Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Why you need a Life Plan

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To reach a port we must sail, sometimes with the wind, and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.

—Oliver Wendell Holmes

Are you drifting in your career or your life? Do you have unmet goals or life-long aspirations you’ve failed to achieve? If so you’re not alone. You know where you want to end up, but why is so difficult to get there?


According to Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, authors of the new book LIVING FORWARD: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get The Life You Want, you get caught in the ‘drift’ that pulls your away from your goals and aspirations. This happens when you get distracted, overwhelmed, deceived or when you are simply unaware of what’s going on around you. The ‘drift’ leads to confusion, expense, lost opportunity, pain and/or regrets. If you’re not careful you’ll lose track of where you are and what you want to become.

My experience reading their book and beginning work on my plan has led me to realize that it’s easy to get off track. It’s common to think you’re on track and things are going well, when in reality they are not. Their book serves as a wakeup call for everyone willing to read it.

So what is a Life Plan and how can it help? According to Hyatt and Harkavy, it’s a short written document, created by you and for you, which describes how you want to be remembered. It provides the specific actions necessary to take you from where you are to where you want to be in every major area of your life. It’s a living document that answers three powerful questions:

  1. How do I want to be remembered?
  2. What matters most?
  3. How can I get from here to where I want to be?

And from my perspective, most importantly the Life Plan helps you identify and address the aspects of your life that are most important, and deeply meaningful, that you may be ignoring without even knowing. The authors make good on their promise to “provide the clarity you need to articulate a vision for your life—your whole life—and develop a plan for getting to a better destination.”

So how do you pull out of the ‘drift’ and take your life from good to great? That’s truly what Living Forward is all about: prioritizing your life, doing the right things now so that you have the life you want to live in the future. “If you don’t figure out how to say ‘no’ to the good, you won’t get to say ‘yes’ to the great.” Here are a few best practices the authors recommend for building your life plan:

  • Check your attitude. Be thankful for what you have. Anticipate gaining experience, insight, wisdom and inspiration. If you expect the things you want, you’ll be far more likely to achieve them.
  • Remind yourself of the goal. Focus on the deliverable—a plan that will give direction to your life. Fight through the obstacle; make it happen.
  • Trust the process. This is not an easy undertaking. Don’t despair, keep your head in the game and stay engaged.
  • Listen to your heart. Notice what you feel. You are laying the groundwork for a major transition in your life.
  • Don’t worry about getting it perfect. This plan is for you (it will not likely get published). Make it work for you, don’t get caught up in perfection.
  • Stay focused. Remember why you’re doing this and concentrate on the end goal.

If you decide to read this book and do what it says, it will push you. It will make you feel uncomfortable. It may even scare you. But I promise you this: you will come out of the experience far better than when you entered. You will know yourself better. You’ll emerge confident in your ability to achieve the life you really want to live. You’ll know your why.

Question: Do you have a life plan? How can/has a written plan change your life? Please leave a comment below.

Update 22-Mar-2016: I spent yesterday writing my Life Plan. It was an energizing experience! I’m confident that as I move forward great things will come as a result.

The Product Management Perspective: Creating your Life Plan is incredibly important for product managers. You are in a leadership role and therefore need to have a firm grasp on where you’re headed. This will help you provide clarity on your products’ direction, and give you the ability to effectively lead those responsible for making your product successful.

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