A Research Paper By Alexandra Jimenez, Career Coach, SWITZERLAND
The Value of a Life Plan and the Impact of Coaching
The following questions have shown up more than once in my life and these are not always easy to answer without a life plan: What do I want to do next? Who do I want to become? I have an education now, what is my next step to success? What do I have to do to reach my goals?
The answers to these questions are often found through external advice following a trend: a family trend, remuneration expectations, success trend. All are external reasons to the individual or the expectations of the advice giver. In a better case scenario, we may be given the advice to: “do what you really feel more comfortable with” or “do something you really like, choose by yourself”.
In both cases, the answers point to external perceptions of what “should” be done, a perception based on external expectations, a trend based on other people’s definition of success rather than our own journey of conscious self-exploration. Our reaction to these questions very often lacks a profound and well-informed decision in alignment with values, strengths, and priorities. In other cases, it responds to limited options set by the life circumstances of our perceived reality, cultural environment, and context.
What does a life plan have to do with these questions? These pages build on my personal life experience and several clients that were in similar situations. Sooner or later, we find ourselves in front of a crucial decision in our lives, which has the potential to impact several years if not decades ahead.
I am hoping this research paper particularly helps my coaching niche audience, be it, college students, about to decide a career choice, newly graduates about to start their professional career, or junior professionals trying to decide if their recent work experience fulfills their expectations.
This research paper offers a perspective on the value of a life plan and the impact of coaching to find answers to these questions by exploring:
- What is powerful about creating a self-designed life plan?
- How can a life plan be meaningful when making important decisions?
- What role can professional coaching play in the creation or amendment of a life plan?
The Power of a Self-Designed Life Plan
There is tremendous power in self-designing a life plan and the sooner the better. It has a great impact on your life because it is the expression of your dreams, needs, desires, objectives, and priorities on your own terms. It is a creative piece that displays in front of your eyes and has the power to guide your life and ease your decisions. It helps you be connected with your present moment, and how it’s supporting your future aspirations. It helps you be more content with your life as it happens and how that can create a better future for your dreams.
A self-designed life plan does not have to be an engineering exercise, and it is not a one-in-a-lifetime exercise either. It should be created and reviewed regularly, it should become a habit that fuels your life, challenges you, and renews energies. Ultimately, it is the journey toward your life objective that makes the ride worthy, as long as you are in the driver’s seat and own your life plan.
The highest reward for a man’s toil is not what he gets for it but what he becomes by it. John Ruskin
The power of a self-design life plan starts with being curious about knowing yourself better and acknowledging your uniqueness and your strengths. By genuinely asking yourself questions such as: who am I? what do I want? and what is important about that for me? you will raise your consciousness level and will find critical information to create your plans the earlier you make self-consciousness a habit, the clearer you will be about your goals and objectives, remain true to yourself, and avoid getting lost in other people’s expectations of our life.
Creating a self-designed life plan has the potential to save you some pain or otherwise help you go through the necessary pain with more self-awareness of the possible results at the other end.
What a Life Plan Is and How It Can Look Like?
Adults learn to be in control of their life, and a life plan is a structured way of achieving that control. It is a roadmap that includes your objectives and a strategy on how to achieve them.
Antony Robbins defines a life plan as follows:
A life plan is like having a map, is about pursuing goals that align with your ultimate purpose in life, being able to embrace the challenges that can show up with the right mindset and preparation.
A life plan is best when it is clear, easy to access, and flexible to change over the years. A life plan is like a route proposed by a GPS to arrive somewhere. A key component is to know where you want to arrive to.
A life plan can look like a practical document physical or electronic, easy to access, that contains various basic elements: date of creation, a vision of yourself, your core values, your goals to achieve the vision, your prioritization of these goals, a self-assessment of your current situation and actions to close the gap.
It can range from a simple paper plan or digital plan to a vision board or flow chart where all those elements are represented, visible, and ideally well represented by a picture or tangible result.
How a Life Plan Can Be Meaningful When Making Important Decisions?
Having a life plan is particularly useful in moments when you stop to ask yourself, either for the first time or in a critical decision phase, some of the following critical questions: What do I want to do next? Who do I want to become? I have an education now, what is my next step to success? What do I have to do to reach my goals? Is this opportunity in front of me worth pursuing?
It is important to look at your life plan as many times as needed because it helps you remain open to opportunities, realign with your values, and better perceive the changes around you that will impact your decisions.
Quite often what you bring to your attention, to your consciousness, makes you see it clearly and more frequently. This happens because where your attention and awareness go, energy grows. Your conscious mind is suddenly focused on capturing those situations or items aligned with your conscious thoughts and visual images in your brain.
Equally, if you are frequently in touch with your life plan your awareness and energy will help you recognize the answers to those questions as they come to you. The opportunities will become more evident, and it will be easy to identify how much they are linked to your values.
When we connect regularly with our desires and are conscious of them, we can better channel our energy, so we spend it in those aspects of our daily life and act when it really matters to us.
Is a Life Plan Static? How Strategic It Is?
No, it is not static. A life plan is about you and your life, and you are not static. We all are in constant change. A life plan is about mapping out the route to your desired destination with a growth mindset. Curiosity, life experience, and unpredicted events will keep adding elements to your plan, both positive ones as well as challenging.
Experience is not what happens to you; but what you do with what happens to you. Aldous Huxley
As we go through life phases, our definition of success may change, what is important for us may change. A fixed mindset about our life plan, where no space is considered for change and adjustments can only bring a sense of frustration.
Yes, it is very strategic to have a self-design life plan because being conscious of our goals in alignment with our main values, being present, and connecting with them on a regular basis, will help us stay on track towards the objective, recognize opportunities when they appear, and help us make difficult decisions. It is strategic because we will be less vulnerable to change our path of development and growth to the desires of others, it will help us to own our truth.
What Role Can Professional Coaching Play in Your Life Plan?
Looking at our life plan, whether at the end or beginning of a new turning point in our life, is powerful because it can help us remain focused and true to ourselves. Life moments in which you need to choose from competing opportunities, identify a challenge worth pursuing, decide the next academic or career path, a career change, and many other examples give you a great opportunity to create or review a life plan.
In phases like this, we often ask ourselves quite challenging questions, these questions should not be answered lightly. It is important to take time and make space to challenge our beliefs, expand our perceptions, take a critical look at our current path, and re-imagine and re-invigorate our dreams for the future.
A life plan is a purposeful activity that may have an impact on your life for years to come, as such, it has its challenges and could potentially create a feeling of being stuck or limited in your options. The support of a coach in the exploration process while putting together or reviewing your life plan can help you expand your creativity, and come up with more options and the right specific personal reasons for your life choices.
A professional coaching engagement can be an ideal partnership in helping you challenge your own beliefs, explore different perspectives, and confirm or change the strategies to achieve the dreams you have set for yourself.
The effort of creating a life plan should belead by the client, a client with a conscious desire for greater creativity and exploration. The coach’s role will be to hold space for that creativity to show up and invite you to observe and explore different possibilities and routes to achieve your destination while enjoying the journey.
Having a thinking partner to accompany you through that process of expanding perspectives, and exploring new strategies and alternatives to your original ideas is purposeful work. You need to be willing to dig deeper than what is just evident while looking at your life plan. You want a coach who helps you consider a broader criterion and search for ideas to consider in your life plan process. Ultimately your life plan may impact you for several years.
When creating a life plan for the first time, not only is the content important but also exploring the best supporting tools to make sure your life plan is practical and present in your day-to-day is a good topic to explore with your coach.
When renewing or revamping your life plan at a turning point in your life, challenging your route to the objectives and your support structures will be quite valuable for your life plan.
Partnering with a professional coach, whether to create your first-time life plan or renew your existing one, is a great way to start or maintain the good habit of challenging your beliefs. Your assumptions, beliefs, and habits may have served you well to arrive at the present point in life but can be challenged toward your future dreams. The partnership with your coach can help you review if your life plan is a good balance between pushing your growing mind limits while keeping it simple and attainable.
What Are the Main Areas of a Life Plan?
Shannah Kennedy in her book “The Life Plan” proposes the following main areas to explore and include when creating and maintaining a life plan. Although each of them is very subjective and must be developed by the client, working with a coach in reviewing each of these areas may highly increase the levels of commitment to follow through with your life plan.
Who are you?: Being clear about who you are, is very important to be able to develop a relevant life plan. Only then it will be your life plan and not the life plan of who I “should be” or what I “have to do”.
Be clear about your values: Values give you a sense of life on your terms, values are individual, and speak for what is important to you.
Define a life purpose: A life purpose has to do with knowing you are part of something bigger or beyond yourself. It is about finding what you can add up in life by having both a big-picture life purpose as well as a daily purpose that contributes to a bigger picture.
Be conscious of the big lessons learned: Being aware of the “greatest lessons in life” is important because they have made you who you are now. The awareness about how these lessons have impacted us can help us make decisions in our future and can also give us great information about the problems that keep recurrently happening.
Gather your golden moments: “What memories do I treasure?” is a question we want to keep asking as we go through our day and life. These golden moments must be part of our definition of success.
Success definition: My own success definition is about what is important to me and how can I measure it. How can I know I have achieved that level of personal satisfaction? It is about knowing what reaching a goal or dream means to me, and how it makes me feel.
Three Main Challenges of a Life Plan
Identify the right questions and let go of the answers: What is more important than just finding the answer to those questions, is asking the right questions. Constantly asking ourselves, how this situation aligns with my values? Is this behavior, decision, or option getting me closer to my objectives? And then let go, letting go of the obsession to find the best and perfect answer and rather focus on just posing the questions.
Remain flexible without failure feelings: Life circumstances change, and we all go through different phases, but if flexibility towards the objective is one of our values, we will be more likely to achieve them. A new opportunity can be the answer to navigating the present circumstances with a view of a possible different viable route to the objective rather than a failure.
Be consistent and check constantly: Consistency is about being conscious of the link between the circumstances and the objectives with your values and strengths. Revisiting your life plan work is important because we change. Our priorities may have changed as well given specific circumstances.
Making Time and Finding Inspiration to Create a Life Plan
Dedicating time and inspiration to create a life plan can have a transformative power in your life! It works like a map and guidance to take you where you want to go and adds intention to your life. While the destination is one of the most important elements of the life plan, is not the only one, there is great power in the process and the journey to discover about yourself and imagine how to get there.
Having a life plan can help us identify the opportunities when they arrive in our lives. Even if these opportunities make us take unexpected turns or temporary pauses in the route to the destination.
Taking the time to work on a life plan and have the support of a coach can make the decision process clearer and the journey more enjoyable search for the answers to Who am I now? Who do I want to become? What do I want to do next? I have an education now, what is my next step to success? What do I have to do to reach my goals? Is this opportunity worth pursuing?
A professional coaching engagement offers a dedicated and creative space. It creates an environment in which you want to challenge your beliefs and explore perspectives and alternatives that increase your creativity about how to reach your dreams and aspirations.
Creating and reviewing your life plan regularly is a great habit. Once you know the destination and a clear objective are set, then you may choose different routes to get to it. Some of those routes may be longer, curvy, or faster, and you may have more than one way to get there. Those different ways to get to your goal represent the changes in our life circumstances. Some can be unexpected, but ultimately having a clear life plan will help you to be able to identify better the opportunities when they show up for you.
Ultimately, your life plan should aim to guide you through a meaningful life on your own terms and make your life purposeful and enjoyable.
Indeed, the Editorial team, “How to make a life plan in 6 steps”, 2020
Kennedy, Shannah, “The Life Plan, Simple Strategies for a Meaningful Life”, 2017
Obama, Michelle, “Becoming”, 2018
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Robbins, Antony, “7 areas to master your life”, 2022
Robbins, Antony, “Personal Coaching Collection – Finding your true gift”, 2006
Schwantes, Marcel, Inc.com – “5 simple ways to discover your life purpose”, 2016
Spenst, Dominik, “The 6-Minute Diary – A book that will change your life”, 2016