You might be feeling it already if you’re over 40 – the uncertainty as the cares of the world press in. You realize that life is short. You’re not necessarily where we want to be. Maybe you’ve lost your perspective and your sense of direction and purpose.
Not sure what to do? Don’t worry – there is hope. I have found that having a plan on how to manage the change is extremely helpful. It can make the process much more enjoyable and productive.
Suppose you’re in a parking lot at a National Forest and you want to go on a hike. What do you do? Back when we used maps, you would first determine where you were. Next, you’d identify where you want to go. Finally, before you head out, you make sure you have all you need for the hike – your hiking shoes, your daypack, some water, etc.
Even though there’s a lot more to it, in some ways, Life Planning has a similar pattern. Where am I? Where do I want to go? Who Am I? How will I get there? are all critical questions to ask as you navigate the midlife journey.
1. Where am I? You need to know exactly what the problem is. It’s going to take a little effort and little digging to uncover it, but it will be worth it going forward. Something eventually begins to emerge when I ask myself these four questions. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s confusing? What’s missing?
2. Where do I want to go? Once you know where you are and what the need is, the next logical step is to figure out what has to be done about it. Questions like these tend to help. Where do I really want to end up? Who do I hope to be in 3 years? What about the status-quo needs to be changed, and the sooner, the better? Now, more than ever, you’ll want to clarify who you want to be and what you want to see happen in the years ahead.
3. Who Am I? Think back on the analogy of the personal resources and hike. What do you have available to take with you? Take time to evaluate who you are. Your strengths. Your values. Your experiences and skills. You’ll want to celebrate them, but more importantly, you’ll want to be honest with yourself and figure out how to maximize them going forward.
4. How will I get there? This step is like pulling out the compass and developing a plan to get from here to there. Put it together, and then start moving. If you’re feeling stuck or confused, clarifying where you want to go and planning how to get there can boost your sense of purpose and quickly improve your outlook.
If you’re uncertain and not sure what to do next. Take a deep breath; it’s okay. The first step is to reflect and then plan. This will provide you with a roadmap to help you move forward and reach your destination. Your life plan doesn’t have to be perfect. But once you have some answers, it will be easier to see which steps to take next. The most important thing is to evaluate, plan and move forward. You’ll be glad you did.