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Making plans

Making Plans
Hi I’m Liz Harper, Head of Community and Lifelong Learning at Age and Opportunity. And I’m here to talk about life planning. Life planning is different to the kind of planning that we do every day. It’s important that we’re not making a list that we tick off. Life planning is about taking a step back, and looking at something bigger that we want to achieve in life. Many of us can go through life figuring out the small stuff, while the big stuff just passes us by.
If you can take a step back and identify what it is you would like to do, would like to get, or would like to be, then maybe you could start making a plan to move towards that. And there are loads of different ways of doing life planning. It’s important to say to start that there isn’t one way that’s suits everybody. We all have different ways of doing life planning, and I’m just going to tell you very briefly about four different ways. I’d suggest that you take a look at them and play around with them. Maybe there’s one method that you use normally and you’d like to try another for a bit of fun or to challenge yourself.
So the first one is called SMART Planning. And it’s the most traditional, and it’s very linear and rational. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. So you start by stating what it is you’d like to, and then you turn that into a SMART objective. You can download a template that will help you here. Let’s take an example of going on the holiday of a lifetime. First you need to be specific. What does a holiday of a lifetime mean to you? Do you have a particular place in mind? Is it about a particular setting? Is it about a type of experience? You need to be very specific about that. Next, it needs to be measurable.
In this case, your measurement of success is going on the holiday itself. It’s whether you get there or not. You can’t sort of have a holiday. Next is it achievable? It’s not something that you’re planning that is completely beyond your reach, like a trip to Mars. It needs to be realistic too. If we use the planet example again, a trip to the moon is achievable. But it’s not realistic, because you’re not going to be able to go the moon, at the moment anyway. Finally it needs to be time limited. You need to state when you are going to do this. It’s not enough to say in the next five years.
You have to state, I will go on this holiday in September, 2017. That’s SMART planning. Action Planning, here’s another template that could be useful for making a change or change in direction. It’s called Action Planning. It’s basically a lot of different prompts that you could be thinking about for yourself. It’s very practical. If you know what you want to achieve, it asks a number of questions like, how will I know I’ve achieved it. What’s the cost of me not achieving it? What will work against me achieving it? How will I know that I’ve got there? What might stop it? What might help me? Who might stop me? Who might help me? That is Action Planning.
Rewind Planning is the next method. This is where you start at the end. So you start with what you want to achieve. So again, this is a method that might really appeal people who are very visual. And you can do it on a large sheet of paper. You start with what you want at the top of the sheet of paper. So up here you have your holiday of a lifetime. And that’s at the top. And then you begin to work backwards, through each of the steps, until you get to a step that you can do right now. So let’s look at a holiday to, for example, Iceland.
We might say, before you can have a holiday in Iceland, you have an investigation packages to Iceland. How are you going to get there? You have to find out the cost, who’s doing the packages, and what the availability is. That’s background research you need to do. And then maybe coming down to another level, you need someone to go with, if you don’t want to go on your own. So that might be about calling friends and seeing what their availability is, checking your own diary and all that stuff. Coming down to another level it might be things like, are there people at home who need minding? Who’s going to keep an eye on the house?
And who’s going to mind the dog? You might work that out. And then right down to the next level, what would be the very first thing, the first phone call, that you’d need to make? The idea behind this is that you’d start taking the action immediately. And one action needs to another. And eventually, you’re on holiday in lovely Iceland. This is Rewind Planning. Finally a completely different way of doing planning is when you set your intention. We call this Intention Planning. Let’s say again, you want to go to Iceland. Basically, you imagine yourself in Iceland. You can taste Iceland. You can smell it. You can feel it. And you can see the colours. You can just imagine being there.
You’re imagining who you’re with. You’re imagining what the landscape is like. You’re imagining how you’re feeling. You can imagine what you’re wearing, what the temperature is. You really need to inhabit this image of a holiday in Iceland. The idea with this is not only that you visit the imagination once, but that you do it repeatedly. And you do that by meditating, or by drawing, or by putting images on the fridge, in your diary, on your phone, your laptop, or wherever you will see them regularly. All the time, you’re informing your subconscious of what you want to be, and what your goal is. Your subconscious will then bring that into fruition.
Now I know some of you are saying, how on earth could that work? I don’t know. But I just know that it does work for some people. That is Intention Planning. So those four types again are SMART Planning, Action Planning, Rewind Planning, and Intention Planning. Why not pick something to plan right now, something not too crucial at the start, and literally play around with the type of planning? Try the different methods. Try the one that has resonance with you, or the one that you’re attracted to, and maybe also try the one that’s the exact opposite of what you usually do. And just see how you get on.
And then perhaps, if you find one that works, you might try it again for something a bit bigger, and then something bigger again. And remember to enjoy and celebrate the results of your effort.

Planning your goals in life is an important part of achieving them. It will help you clarify priorities, be realistic, and address your current realities.

In this video, Liz Harper talks about the importance of making plans as you get older, and talks about four ways of doing this:

  • SMART planning
  • Rewind planning
  • Question planning
  • Intention planning

Age and Opportunity have a handout that describes these four planning types. Click on this link to open the document, and use it to plan your goals.

  • Which of the four planning techniques do you feel would be most useful for you to set a goal? Why?
  • Select one of these techniques, and describe how you will use it to reach a goal.
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