Steven Covey was the first person I remember hearing say, “Start with the end in mind.” I do this instinctively in my work, but until a few years ago, I had never applied this principle to my life.

When I started working with my coach, Daniel Harkavy, one of the first activities he asked me to do was to identify the primary “accounts” in my life. He suggested five to seven as a good number. Here’s what I came up with:

Faith – Fitness – Family – Influence – Finances

(I know, it would have been great to find a word for influence that starts with the letter F.)

Identifying the accounts wasn’t the hard part of the assignment. Next, he told me to block one day, eight full hours, to answer the following question:

What do I want to be true in each of these accounts 30 years from now?

That’s starting with the end in mind! He asked me to write a narrative for each account with as much detail as I could manage. He also asked me to write an explanation or defense of why I wanted what I had written to become a reality.

This was an extremely powerful exercise for me. In some ways it changed my life, and in other ways it defined my life.

As Daniel explained after I’d finished this exercise, the rest is merely execution. All I have to do is live my life so the things I wrote – my 30-year vision – become reality. My personal planning process is built on this concept. Here are the key steps in my process:

1.  Review my 30-year vision – I call it my Life Plan. I want to see if any of my aspirations have changed. The Life Plan is a dynamic document.

2.  Then I ask myself the following questions:

What did I learn in the last 12 months?

What did I accomplish in the last 12 months?

What did I fail to accomplish that I planned to do and why?

(I’ll write more about what I’ve learned about myself this year in an upcoming post.)

3.  Then, I often select an area of personal focus for the year – some call this a “Deep Dive.” I was inspired when I learned this was a practice of the legendary basketball coach, John Wooden. One year, his personal focus was rebounding. Imagine, a year of studying rebounding – that blew my mind!

4.  Next, I set a few goals for each account and the appropriate strategies and tactics.

5.  Finally, I write it all down. Last year, I also created a mind map to summarize my plan. I keep it on a card in my pocket and use it as the screen saver on my computer as a constant reminder of what I’m trying to accomplish.

I know I’ve included a lot of details here, but I don’t want you to miss the big idea: The 30-year perspective has made a huge impact on my life. It not only captures my heart, it is the heart of my personal planning process.

Start with the end in mind![GLS_Shield]

Have you started working on your personal plan for 2013? If not, a 30-year look would be a great place to start!

 

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.