Developing a Life Plan (Part 3)
This is our final portion of our series on developing a life plan. In this section we talk about the need for intentionality and focus. You will also explore specific questions to help you frame the new dreams you are beginning to step into for the next year and decade.
Looking at your life purpose and the intentionality with which you approach approach your life will really be the key to the fulfillment of your life plan. Begin to think in terms of how intentional and purposeful you are with your life, your giftedness and how you invest the best of yourself, your time and your resources each day. Look at your current situation and do some honest evaluation of where you are currently and how you arrived there.
1. How much of your life currently is a response to an intentional design or pattern of decision making?
2. Do you feel particularly directed by God to this situation?
3. Have you been systematically discipled?
4. Has your spiritual development been, or is it now, an intentional direction?
5. How intentional have you been with spending time with God? With key friends in your life? With developing relationships with family?
6. In your spiritual life, have you sought to replicate your giftedness, reproducing it in other people so they can benefit from it?
7. Is your current life purpose and vocation something that has grown out of thoughtfulness and intentional development, or have you just happened to stumble into what you’re currently doing?
8. Do you thoughtfully dream and think about what your life is and could become or do you simply do what is required of you each day to get through it?
Other key questions to ask:
1. Have you participated in the intentional development of other people in your life?
2. Why did they choose you?
3. What did they see in you that they saw as either necessary or useful?
4. How did they impact you?
5. What’s been their ongoing influence in your life?
6. How has that influence changed your life?
7. How have you or can you pass that on to other people?
Some people do the right things for the wrong reasons. To discover why you do what you do, it is important to regularly check your motives. The following are some key questions to ask. Often nothing will show up. It is essential, however, that you do not try to answer these solely in your own mind, but that you have someone probe a bit into other aspects of why you do what you do. This should preferably be done with a mentor or an older, trusted friend with some wisdom who will ask you questions to clarify your purposes. A therapist’s help may even be beneficial. It’s important to note your idiosyncrasies here.
1. Why are you the way you are? What are the life experiences and decisions that have formed you as the person you are becoming?
2. Why do you do what you do? Why is it important to you? What are the key motivational factors for you?
3. What criteria have you used to make decisions?
4. Do you do what you do for the right reasons?
5. Who benefits the most from what you do?
6. Are there any improper motives that need to be checked?
7. Is there any way that you are trying to fulfill your life plan in such a way that it will ultimately hurt, harm, limit or even destroy you or someone else?
8. What are your temptations to do things that will make you look better in the public eye? Do you take too much responsibility for how well you did? Do you give credit where credit is due?
9. Do you have any “dark-side” temptations? Sexuality, addiction or addictive traits? (Again, to have a mentor, an older, wise friend or even a therapist help you with these regularly is helpful.)
10. Who asks you tough questions about your motives? Who speaks truth to you? Who is someone in your life who can tell you that you have made a wrong decision and to whom you will listen?
11. Do you have any patterns or tendencies to discredit people who do not agree with you? Do you discredit them as your opponents or do you take their advice and attempt to understand its implications for you?
Assessments help you create a personal profile of why you are the way you are and why you do the things you do. They will help you understand and see more objectively your preferences, the kind of person you are and God’s work in your life and help you figure out how to develop from there. In choosing assessments, it is crucial to look at personality, temperament, preference, vocational contexts and leadership management styles. Here is a short list of recommended assessments and the area(s) they assess.
16PF: Personality profile
Uniquely You: DISC profile, temperament analysis, spiritual gift assessment and summary profile
IDAK: career assessment
LEAD: leadership style
Management Style Diagnostic Inventory: managerial style
Networking: complete spiritual gift analysis and spiritual gift profile
There is the old adage: “Very few people in life plan to fail; they just fail to plan.” This is a time to take a good look at your life and figure out what is holding you back and keeping you from fulfilling your life purpose. Ask yourself the following questions. You may also find it useful to pursue people in your life who will answer these questions for you.
1. How do you get a focus to your life?
2. What distractions in your life need to be addressed?
3. Are you a dabbler? Do you enjoy many things without focusing on one?
4. Do you have tendencies to overcommit and do more things than you can do well?
5. Are you aware of the things you do best? Are you confident in them? Do they bring you a sense of satisfaction?
6. What are clutter issues in your life? Timing? Relationships? Emotional or spiritual deprivation or needs?
7. If you were to ask the person closest to you, “What is the thing that keeps me from being successful or impacting others?” what would he or she highlight as the clutter that keeps you from experiencing success in your life?
8. What would that same person say was “good” in your life but was keeping you from doing your best?
9. How would the person who works closest with you but dislikes you answer the previous questions?
10. If you take stock in your life today, assuming that the current pattern will continue for the rest of your life, will you be happy with the outcomes?
11. Is this the time for you to get a clearer focus and rid your life of some “stuff”?
Areas to Develop
Don’t forget that sometimes your greatest successes can become limitations. Sometimes you celebrate them too much and forget to keep a clear focus on priorities. Consider the three to five things in your life that you want to do most successfully and the values that drive you. Focus for a moment on any potential or perceived limitations to achieving your goal.
1. Do you take stock of your life in your emerging life plan?
2. What are the areas of your life that still need to be developed in order for you to fulfill this life dream, calling and life mission?
3. What areas need to be addressed with clear intentionality?
4. What areas of depth of wisdom, insight, relationship, spiritual understanding and understanding motivations need to be developed?
5. Is there anything holding you back?
6. Have you let a minor setback keep you from experimenting or trying something else?
7. Have you focused too much on one strength without pursuing additional strengths to accompany it?
8. Have you simply become accustomed to what you do? Although you are comfortable in your current situation, is it possible that it’s not the best use of the totality of your strengths?
9. How do you maintain your passion?
10. How do you stay on the right road? How do you keep a clear focus and ensure that this isn’t another tangent or another “to do” in your life, but really the purpose, direction and focus of your life?
After you have done this assessment for yourself, find some other people to help you. Utilize friends, family members, counselors, pastors, spiritual directors and pastors to ask you questions like:
1. What are some areas in my life that are yet to be developed?
2. What are the developmental steps needed for me to develop them?
3. How do I move from where I am to actually fulfilling my life plan?
As you look at future dreams, ask yourself the following questions. All of these come together to create a life plan for you. The goal is to invest the life you have been given in such a way that it creates the greatest impact on the kingdom of God and in eternity.
1. What else is there for me?
2. Is there one more big challenge? Is there a mission or task that I need to undertake that I have not yet done?
3. Is there something that no one else is doing that I can do?
4. What maturity and development do I need in order to be able to do it?
5. Do I have a unique perspective, calling or purpose in life that could be used in ways I have not thought of? In ways that perhaps others have not thought of, either?
6. What will be the lasting impact of my life? How can I begin to plan for it now?
7. What resources do I need in order to fulfill my mission(s)? People resources? Financial resources? Educational resources? Experiential resources?
A lot has gone into making you the person you are now. Some things you have just assumed, a few you have regretted. But they have all gone into making you the person you are today. Attempt to see your life with the greatest outcomes in view, and also attempt to see your life from God’s perspective. He does have a dream for your life. He is on your side. He is working with you to accomplish it. May your life fulfill both your dream and His for you.