Monday, April 20, 2020

Life Planning: The Big-Picture Approach

Whatever it is I’m involved or interested in, I always like to see the big picture. That’s why I like books such as The World Is Flat and Guns, Germs, and Steel. They give me the big picture of the topics they cover (which are globalization and history, respectively).
Seeing the big picture helps me understand the overall situation. That, in turn, gives me some benefits:
I know where I fit in. 
Knowing the overall situation helps me know where my position is related to other things.
I know what action to take. 
Since I know where my position is, I can figure out what action I should take. Reading The World Is Flat, for instance, led me to creating this blog.
I can avoid doing unnecessary things. 
Since I get the overall picture, I can figure out whether or not something is necessary to achieve my goal. I can then avoid wasting time on things that are unnecessary.
Seeing the big picture, as you can see, has significant benefits. And you can use this approach for life planning.

Let’s look at it in more detail.
Life Planning in Five Steps
To apply the big-picture approach to life planning, here are five steps:
1. See the big picture of your past years.
First of all, you need to know how your life has been. How is the big picture of your past years? For this, I use a simple life map. There I put important events and achievements in my past years (I usually have less than five entries per year). Looking at the map helps me see the big picture of how my life has been.

2. Figure out your future direction.
Checking your past years can help you figure out your future direction. For instance, is there any pattern in the past that you can use for the future? In my case, I had several achievements in IT so it makes sense to build upon them in the future.
By checking your life map, you might recognize idle potential, hidden patterns, and the direction that you have taken. You can use them to think about where you should go.

3. Set long term goals.
After figuring out your future direction, you can project the big picture of your future. How will your life be years from now? A good thing to do here is to set long-term goals. In my case, I have a few goals for the year 2020. These goals give me an overall picture of how my life would be years from now.

4. Beware of distractions.
Your life map might reveal not just useful patterns, but also inefficiencies. You might find that you’ve spent time on things that turned out to be unnecessary. You should be careful not to let such things happen again in the future.

5. Do regular review.
Day-to-day busyness can easily distract you from the direction that you have planned. That’s why you need to have a regular review time. It helps you reconnect with your plan and brings you back on track. It also allows you to adjust things as necessary.

Many people live their lives on autopilot. They aren’t aware of where their lives are going. That, of course, is not a good way to live. Using this big-picture approach can help you live a more effective life.

How do you plan your life? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
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