Developing a Life Plan that Works

What is a Life Plan and Why Do You Need One?

A life plan is a set of goals that you develop for yourself to track and guide your life experiences.  Many of us are merely existing and not living.  Living is to be done on purpose and anything that is done on purpose is usually premeditated.  I wrote a book, Turning 30, because I felt life had started to get away from me and I found myself in this vacuum where I was living for everyone else besides living for myself.  I had no life plan at the moment.  My plan was to get up and just make it through the day.  If you are reading this article then I am certain that you have probably been in this space at least once in your life and if you still are in this place, then this is definitely for you.

You need a life plan so that you do not continue to just deal with the unhappiness that you have about your life.  A life plan will help you understand what you want out of life and it will give you eyesight on what you need to do to start making these things take place for you.  We will take a brief journey through steps that will help you develop a life plan.

Take an Assessment

Before you ever set plans to do anything, you have to take an assessment of where you are and what you have and do not have.  You cannot achieve a goal unless you first realize how far away from the goal you are and what you need to do to achieve it. I want to coach you into setting goals that actually mean something to you.  Sure, you can set a goal to get a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering but what will that achievement bring to your life in the long term?  For this reason, you must be strategic in your goal setting by knowing where you stand now and what you are missing that you otherwise would like to have.  At the end of the day, it is about fulfillment and self-actualization.  There is a system that can lead you towards this.  I will show you.

I’ve determined the best way for us to narrow down goals that will support our very basic well-being is to focus on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  If you’ve ever touched a PYSC 101 course, you will already have an idea of what these needs are and a little about Abraham Maslow.  The Hierarchy of needs is a pyramid structure of basic needs that all humans require in some order or another to be generally fulfilled.  These needs are simple on the surface but can be broken down into very complex sub-needs.  Evaluating your future based on these needs can also help you address areas of your life where you are not as fulfilled as you may have thought.

The Hierarchy of Needs Diagram is Shown Below.

Hierarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow developed the Hierarchy of Needs to support his theory of the developmental cycle of human personality. Based on this theory, people develop based on a set of needs ending with self-actualization. Self-actualization is the last, final, and most intense stage of personal development.

The general understanding of this diagram is that these needs are foundational building blocks leading up to the next need.  However, the human nature is very complex and we are shaped by the nature/nurture complex whereas things about us are shaped by our culture, environment and some by our genetic makeup.  Therefore, some people may not value certain aspects of a level before another level such as sex.

Take a look at the diagram and start a life plan based on these basic needs.  The fact is, a lot of us are at the self-actualization stage of our development.  If you are in a space where you feel like you need to develop a life plan, then self-actualization is probably where you stand right now, but that does not mean that you don’t have life plans that may focus on some of the other areas.

Physiological Assessment

At most, before you can attempt to self-actualize your life, I will ask a question.  Are your physiological needs secure?  Do you have adequate shelter and a daily supply of food for nourishment?  Are you quite healthy and do you lead a healthy lifestyle?  Let’s say you have all of these but you do not lead a healthy lifestyle.  You eat all manner of junk and never exercise.  This assessment lets you know what you need to add to your life plan because unhealthily living is taking away from a component of your basic hierarchy of needs and will eventually severely disturb your quality of life.  Be honest with yourself and identify if you are truly taking care of your life in these areas.

Consider the poor and how their lack of physiological satisfaction can get in the way of them actualizing their lives.  Why is that?  This is because having adequate food, a secure and guaranteed shelter will greatly reduce the amount of stress a person is exposed to.  Who has time to plan for their future when they have to worry about where they will sleep?

Safety Assessment

We should feel safe and secure in order to have a happy life.  Security can be physical security and it can also be economic security.  These are the two that we typically work the hardest to provide for ourselves.  Lack of security can really disturb your quality of life and it will disrupt a life plan.  If you are in a space where you do not feel secure economically or physically, then jot that down as something you would like to change. This will require you to be specific about your specific circumstances.  As it concerns economic security, I do want you to understand that not being wealthy is not the same as not being economically secure.  Being economically secure is when you have the income needed to provide for your physical needs.  There is no imminent threat or loss to this income.

Love and Belonging Assessment

We have a basic need to belong and be a part of a group.  No man is an island and it is not really good for a person to be alone with no socialization of any sort taking place.  Most of us have these types of connections already whether they are family, friends, or coworkers.  Belonging can be fulfilled through church circles and other social clubs.  Many people get to these phase of development and it seems like everything stops and then sadness and feelings of emptiness settles in. This is because they use these connections to give them inner esteem.

When thinking about a life plan, most tend to believe that those plans should only include ambitious goals involving career and financial development.  However, those plans should evaluate whether or not you have relationships in your life that satisfies your need to belong.  I come from a close-knit family, but I have discovered that everyone does not have that.  If you are one of these people who does not have access to a close family dynamic, then consider listing this need as a part of your plan.  You can find social groups or clubs to join in order help build upon this need to belong.  Evaluate your need for this and ensure you are doing it for the sake of ensuring you belong to a group and not to fulfill any low self-esteem you may have.  That leads us to the next step.

Esteem

The need for good esteem is closely related to the need to be loved and belong.  Good self-esteem will give you the power to finish off your hierarchy of needs and the self-esteem is fueled by all the other needs below it.  Ask yourself, “How do I feel about myself.”  What are you insecure about?  We all have insecurities, but what is it that affects your self-esteem?  It could be anything in the hierarchy that is lacking that is contributing to low self-esteem.

When you have low self-esteem, your potential to make any significant life plans take action will be hard to do.  You should see by now that as we move up the pyramid how all the needs are related to the other.  The end goal is to be able to get to a place where you have equipped to self-actualize yourself.

Self-Actualization

At some point in life, we begin to really focus on how we can truly become the best person we can become.  Having all of your basic needs met gives you a firm foundation to be able to actualize plans that you have set for your life.  A life plan will begin to actualize itself at this phase.  When you do not have to worry about how you will eat or how the bills we get paid and you have the support you need from loved ones and other important people and you feel good about yourself, you are capable of doing anything you set your sights on.  In this place, you can think clearly about what you truly want to contribute to the world and what you want to have the world contribute to you in return.  Build your life plan based on what is important to you.

Goal Setting

This assessment has taken you through the journey of your basic human needs and in that you may have discovered that you are not even ready to start building out a complex to-do list of goals and activities you wish to accomplish as a person because you now realize that you have little things here and there that you first most focus on about yourself.  This means you will not be able to jump to trying to change the world when you have yet to change your own world.  Now that you have taken an assessment of yourself, it is time to build out goals to help make you happier with the deficiencies that you have discovered.  If you discovered that you are not economically secure, your life plan, for now, should focus on that so that you can build up to the next phase of development.

A goal is a mark that you attempt to hit.  You will not always hit the goal but the goal should always remain until you hit it.  Maslow has many quotes.  In this case, remember this one:

[beautifulquote align=”full” cite=””]What is neccesary to change a person is to change his self-awareness – Abraham Maslow[/beautifulquote]

Your life plan is only a reflection of what you can fulfill within yourself  If you are feeling lost or underdevelop then consider assessing your needs according to Maslow and then develop a plan to address the deficits you may have.

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