Craft the Life You Want: Creating a Blueprint for Your Future

by Brett on February 8, 2011 · 78 comments

in A Man's Life, Personal Development

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The craftsman is an archetype of manliness that has been with us for millenia. We admire his independence, his work ethic, and his unwavering sense of purpose. We envy the way he personally shapes and creates the fruits of his labor.

While not many of us will ever make a living hammering horseshoes or chiseling wood, we are all artisans in a way, because we are all charged with crafting our own lives. Each man must take an active role in shaping his future. He must gain entry to the Guild of Greatness.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll be offering a series of articles on how to craft a more remarkable life. Like all good craftsmen, we need a blueprint to guide our work, a shop where we can do our work, and tools to help us accomplish our work. We’ll be taking a look at how these three facets of a traditional craftsman’s vocation can be applied by every man to the task of crafting a satisfying life.  First up: the blueprint.

Creating a Blueprint for Your Life

Are you living the life you want or have you shoulded all over yourself for years and feel as though you’re simply going through the motions as you try to gain the approval of others? Being a mature man means knowing what you stand for and where you’re going in life. A man always has a plan, especially for something as important as his life.

But many men today just drift along and let life happen to them. Maybe you’re one of them. I know I’ve done lots of drifting in my life, and I always feel like crap when I do. It’s an angsty feeling that drives you bonkers because you feel this strong drive to live with more purpose, but you don’t even know what that purpose is, which leads to an existential funk and the desire to eat several Supersonic Cheeseburgers with jalapenos. At least that’s how it works for me.  Have you ever experienced that restless, anxious feeling and weren’t sure what to do about it?

Well, today we’re going to stop that angsty feeling in its tracks. Today we’re going to start crafting the life we want to live.

Like any good craftsman, we need a solid blueprint to guide us. But instead of creating a blueprint for a cedar chest, we’ll be drafting a blueprint for our life. Below I’ve laid out the steps that I’ve personally used to hash out a life plan. It’s a mash-up of ideas from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Brian Tracy’s book Goals!. This is what has worked for me, and it’s helped other people I’ve shared it with. I’d encourage you to read other materials on goal setting and experiment with different formats to find something that’s comfortable for you.

With that said, let’s bust out our t-squares and protractors and get to drafting.

Time and Tools Needed

Drafting a blueprint for your life is a huge endeavor. It’s not something you should expect to complete in just an hour. We’ll be doing a lot of meditating, writing, and soul searching, which is surprisingly difficult and draining work. Ideally, you should dedicate a weekend to drafting your life’s blueprint. Go on a camping trip, lock yourself in your man cave, or just check into a hotel that offers hot continental breakfasts (mmmm…am I the only one who loves continental breakfasts?) and hash out your blueprint.

If it’s not possible to do it in one fell swoop, then feel free to break the process up over a couple of days.

Where should you draw up your life’s blueprint? It just comes down to personal preference. If you’re a digital guy, do it in a word document. Personally, I prefer using my leather-bound journal and a nice pen to write up my life plan. I feel more engaged with the process, and I feel like I think better with pen and paper than I do with a keyboard. Some studies actually support the idea that writing with pen and paper increases cognition.

But you don’t have to use a fancy journal and pen. A spiral notebook and a cheap Bic pen will do the trick. Just make sure you write this stuff down.

Alright, we’ve got our tools. Let’s start with the first step in drawing up a blueprint for a manlier life.

Define and Prioritize Your Roles as a Man

Every man wears different hats throughout his life and even during a single day. We take on the roles of husband/boyfriend, father, friend, businessman, volunteer, citizen, employee and so on.

To become a complete and well-rounded man, we need to thrive in each of our roles. So much of our happiness as men depends on our success in our various roles in life. But before you can figure out how to excel in each aspect of your life, you first need to clearly define your roles as a man. Sit down with your pen and journal and really think about the roles you take on each day. Write down as many of them as come to your mind. Don’t hold back.

Here’s a list to help get you started:

  • Husband/Boyfriend
  • Father
  • Son
  • Brother
  • Friend
  • Grandson
  • Manager
  • Employee
  • Leader
  • Disciple
  • Artist
  • Student
  • Photographer
  • Writer
  • Soldier
  • Landlord
  • Coach
  • Teacher
  • Citizen
  • Mentor
  • Mentee

Finished? Killer-diller.

A great deal of stress and angst in a man’s life occurs because he doesn’t spend enough time nurturing and growing in the roles that are most important to him. A man might consider himself an entrepreneur even though he works a day job at a corporation. Working on projects that he’s passionate about fills him with a level of manly vitality he doesn’t feel doing anything else. He might even have hopes of one day hustling his side job into a full-time gig. But whenever there’s a choice between working on his business and going out with his friends, this man consistently chooses his friends. Consequently, his small biz never goes anywhere and he ends up bitter, resentful, and depressed.

To help guide our long term goals and even our daily choices as men, we need to put down in ink what roles are most important to us. Look at your list and start prioritizing your roles in order of most important to least important.

You might be looking at your list of roles and thinking, “Boy! I’ve got a boat load of roles to prioritize!” Being involved in lots of people’s lives is a good thing, but too much of even a good thing can lead to burn out. Are there some roles that are causing you a lot of unneeded stress? Perhaps you have taken on a few roles that don’t provide any fulfillment and take away time from the roles that are truly important to you. You might then consider pruning those “dead” roles away to strengthen your core responsibilities. This can be tough to do, especially if what you’re eliminating is a “good” thing. But you don’t want the good to become the enemy of the best.

With your prioritized list, you can now start making better choices that are more in line with what you really value. This list will especially come in handy when you find yourself in situations where you have roles with competing demands. For example, let’s say you’re asked to come into work on the weekend. It’s not mandatory, but it would definitely look good and help with your career advancement. But that weekend your daughter has a soccer game. Which do you choose? Well, if you put your role as a father over your role as an employee, than you’d go to your daughter’s soccer game.

Now a few caveats with your prioritized list of roles. First, this isn’t a static list. The order of your roles will change during the different seasons of your life. So take a regular personal inventory and make adjustments when needed.

Second, sometimes your roles will have conflicting demands. Try to find ways to make both work at the same time. You might have to bring some reports to your son’s basketball game and work on them during timeouts and half-time. It’s not ideal, but it’s a good compromise.

Define Your Purpose for Each Role

Now that we’ve defined our roles, it’s time to establish our purpose for each of them. Without a strong sense of purpose, we feel lost and shiftless. Roles with clearly defined purposes enable us to make decisions that will enrich rather than impoverish us.

How will we establish our different purposes? Stephen Covey suggests imagining your own funeral. A bit macabre, yes, but it’s a very effective exercise. Imagine the people in attendance. Who will be there? Many in attendance will probably be the people you interact with in your various roles as a man: your wife, your children, your friends, your boss, your co-workers, your clients, and maybe even your dog.

What would each of them say about you? Which of your contributions will they mention in their eulogy to you? What memories of you will they share? How do you want them to remember you?

Now take a piece of paper and write out each one of your roles in a nice column. Leave some space in-between so you can write a paragraph or two underneath each role.  Underneath each role, write out what you want the people you affect in that role to say about you when you’re dead. Be as idealistic as you want. For example, underneath my Husband role I’d write something like this:

I want Kate to remember me as a caring, patient, and loving husband. I want her to say that I made her laugh each and every day. I want her to remember all the fun adventures we went on together and those quiet moments when we just hung out on the couch or took a walk. I want her to remember me as her rock during all the hard times.  I want to her to say that I helped make her life magical.

Take as much time as you need. Really ponder about what you’d want the different people in your life to say about you.

If there’s a role you currently don’t have, but want to have one day, write it down and establish a purpose for it. Let’s say you’re single,  but you’re looking to start a relationship in the future–write down “husband/boyfriend” and what you want your someday significant other to say about you at your funeral. Then start living your life in align with those standards and get out there and start looking for that lucky lady.

Define Goals For Yourself

Our roles as men are often others focused, but in order for us to serve others effectively, we need to be on top of our game personally. That’s why we need to also establish goals and purposes that focus on ourselves and our progress as men.

Make these BIG long term goals; goals that really stretch you. And make sure they’re YOUR goals, not the goals that you think you should have. (Remember, don’t should on yourself!) If you want to travel the world  with nothing but a backpack, that’s great. But if you’re more of a homebody and would be happier advancing in your current career without having to re-locate, that’s fine, too.

Below I’ve listed some broad areas in which a man could set goals for improvement. Go crazy when brainstorming your goals. Just sit down with pen and paper and write down any and all of the things you’ve ever wanted to accomplish. We’ll whittle the list down later.

  • Health
  • Career/Vocation
  • Financial
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Travel
  • Social
  • Lifestyle/Where You Live

Alright, so by now you should have a pretty hefty bucket list of stuff you want to accomplish in life. Now, under each broad category you’ve selected, narrow your goals down to the five that you will focus on for the next five years. Remember, these are big goals like paying off your debt or starting your business or publishing a book.

The stuff you’ve written down is probably really broad like “Lose weight” or “Travel the world.” These aren’t the most inspiring or useful goals. As every corporate motivational speaker has pontificated: Vague goals produce vague results. Yeah, it’s cliche, but it’s true.

Take any vague goals you might have and re-write them so that they’re laser specific. Our goals need to be measurable and have a deadline for completion. If you want to lose weight, state how much you want to lose and the date you want to lose it by. If you want to pay off your debt, state the exact amount you have to pay off and the date you’ll pay it by.

And I don’t know how much of this is New Age/The Secret bull crap, but according to neuro-linguist programming, stating your goals in the present tense has more of an impact on your brain than stating goals in the future tense. I don’t know. If it helps, awesome. If not, no loss.

Here are some example goals:

  • On or before June 6, 2011, I weigh 175 pounds.
  • On August 31, 2011 or sooner,  I can perform 25 pull-ups.
  • I have paid off $30,000 worth of debt on December 31, 2015 or sooner.
  • I run my own blacksmithing business by June 30, 2014.
  • I live in Vermont in a small cabin and make $60,000 a year selling homemade maple syrup and moose skin rugs by April 1, 2015.

Define Your Current Reality

Before we get to where we want to go, we need to know where we’re at right now. Take a look at each one of your roles and the life areas where you’ve established personal goals. Write down your current reality in regards to each one. Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t sugar coat things. It won’t do you any good.

Let’s use the Husband role as our working example:

Things are pretty good with Kate and I. We rarely argue, but when we do it’s over really dumb things. There has been a romantic disconnect between us since the birth of our son. We’ve been so busy being parents, we haven’t had time to be a couple. I know Kate would like some more romancing.

Your descriptions of your current reality don’t need to be well-organized. It could be just a series of bullet points or a stream of consciousness paragraph. So long as you don’t pull any punches, you’re golden.

Establish Specific Action Steps

With our current reality analyzed, we’re now going to set some very specific actions to fulfill our purposes and goals.

Create a heading for “Action Steps,” and under it, write out all your roles and your personal goals. Underneath each role and goal, write down five specific actions you’re going to start taking today to achieve your purposes.

Let’s continue with the Husband role as our example. My purpose for my role as a husband was this:

I want Kate to remember me as a caring, patient, and loving husband. I her to say that I made her laugh each and every day. I want her to remember all the fun adventures we went on together and those quiet moments when we just hung out on the couch or took a walk. I want her to remember me as her rock during all the hard times.  I want to her to say that I helped make her life magical.

What specific actions can I take today to move me from my current reality to something that’s more in line with this ideal reality? Here’s five I thought of off the top of my head:

  1. Book bed and breakfast for Kate’s birthday.
  2. Plan camping trip for just Kate and I for April 15-16.
  3. Buy Kate some flowers for Valentine’s Day.
  4. Leave her a love note twice a month.
  5. Find a babysitter for weekly date night.

Repeat with each role and personal goal.

Review Frequently. Amend When Necessary.

Congratulations! You’ve drafted a blueprint for your life.

You should be feeling less anxious and restless and more grounded and centered.

But crafting the life that you want isn’t a one time thing, it’s a life long process. Just as master craftsmen review their blueprint frequently,  you should review your life’s blueprint on a regular basis. Frequent review will help keep you on track with your goals and purposes. I like to review my blueprint at least once a month. Some people do it quarterly, while others do it weekly. Find a schedule that works for you.

And just as master craftsmen change their blueprints in the middle of projects because they encounter unforeseen issues, so should you amend your life plan when necessary. Again, your roles as a man will change throughout your life; you’ll achieve goals and will need to establish new ones; goals that were important two years ago, stop being so important anymore. Perhaps you can set up a yearly ritual where you do a deep review of your blueprint and make changes to it for the coming year.

That’s enough yapping. Time to get to work. I’d love to hear about your life’s blueprint. Share them with us in the AoM Community. I’ve established a discussion thread just for that.

Craft the Life You Want Series:
Creating a Blueprint for Your Future
Setting Up Shop, or The Importance of Where You Live
Gathering Your Tools

{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle F. February 8, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Damn Brett…..you’ve been on fire recently. The posts in these last few weeks have been nothing short of incredible. You’re quitting your corporate job was a great service to men everywhere!

2 Jason February 8, 2011 at 1:22 pm

I agree with Kyle! Phenomenal! Thank you for this service you provide to men everywhere!

3 THO February 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I have to echo Kyle F., wow! Good job and right on the money as always. I am a dreamer by nature and have noticed that all of my desires and energies move towards a “big picture” scenario without the know-how or even desire to take the necessary small steps. Small steps are what I need and I really like the idea of a blueprint that would force me to evaluate that big picture dream at a manageable level. Only the present exists and it’s the only time I can do anything so might as well act in the present. Thanks again for your incredibly relevant articles. You’re doing this society of ours an incredible service.

4 Michael Hilton February 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

This is a great article, Brett! I hope to sit down sometime and write all this stuff out. Thanks for the inspiration.

5 Evan February 8, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Thanks again Brett for another amazing article to help me put my goals in life in perspective.

6 Joe @ Not Your Average Joe February 8, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Excellent compliment article to “Don’t Should All Over Yourself”. Coupled with this post, every guy that reads this site has no excuse not to plan and execute their ideal circumstance.

Way to go, Brett. I appreciate these insightful posts.

7 Josh Knowles February 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

Thanks for another great article. Made me very much aware of those areas in my life that my mouth says are important but my actions say otherwise.

I best be doing some thinking until supper time…

8 Ryan February 8, 2011 at 5:07 pm

When writing down goals remember to write why that goal is important to you. This will reinforce your motivation and conviction to follow though with the goals.

9 Curtis T February 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Just what I need at a time when I needed it the most. Thanks for the info. Just printed it out and plan on starting on this tonight!

10 Carl February 8, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Thank you Brett for this amazing and indeed motivational article. I have big goals for my future, and I hope with these tips that they should be more attainable than ever. Thanks again!

11 Mato Tope February 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm

It’s exactly a year since I was looking up The Man in The Arena speech by TR. and stumbled upon the Art of Manliness.
The inspiration, down-to-earth wisdom and quality of your writing has been life enhancing and, without doubt, life changing.
I can offer no higher accolade;
Brett, you are a Gentleman.

12 Scott C February 8, 2011 at 7:16 pm

This is a fantastic post and I’m looking forward to the rest in the series. I’d just like to add something that I’ve learned about goal setting. It’s a pretty prevalent acronym (SMART), which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These criteria really help when specifying goals. You touched on some of them, but I think measurability is something that should definitely be mentioned, because if you can’t measure your progress it’s very hard to hold yourself accountable.

Just my two cents. Keep up the great work!

13 DanL February 8, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Great post. It is cool to have it written down on paper and I look forward to watching it transform. Perhaps writing down your present situation for future reference is a way of measurement?

I really enjoyed reading “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. The book explores how someone lives a good story by applying the elements of a story to life. Its an interesting and inspiring book.

14 Alex V February 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Great article. Just what I, and I’m sure several other men have been needing to help them find happiness and success.

15 Nik Rice February 8, 2011 at 10:58 pm

I remember doing all of this in my 7 Habits course in college. Brett has explained this process much better than my instructor, as he always does. Brett, I wonder if you are going to cover “writing your life’s mission statement,” as well.
@ Scott,
I also learned the SMART acronym, although it was “MASTER,” in school but had forgotten it. Thanks for the reminder. That’s what separates goals from dreams; they have to be attainable.

16 Jack Daniels February 8, 2011 at 11:08 pm

I’ve been reading AoM for about two weeks now.
After my wife and I discovered our first conceived child had been miscarried, I found an article here about grieving properly. I have continued to be motivated by these posts every day and have used them as fuel to turn my life back in the positive. I can’t express how important this site and community has been to me in recent days, and I hope it will go on strong for quite some time. I would love to contribute to the site in any way possible.

Also, I didn’t realize until I purchased the book that Brett and Kate were in Oklahoma, my home state. It was a strangely comforting thing to discover.

Greetings from West Virginia!

17 Jonathan Brook February 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Brett you have done it again!!!

This and the superhuman article have really made me want to push myself over the next few years. I continually ask myself where I want to be and this article has motivated me to put it on paper. Cheers Brett

@ John Daniels My thoughts are with you mate (sorry I am Australian). Hang in there. It will get better. I know that it is tough at the moment, but their is happiness just around the corner. All the best to you and your wife.

18 Brent February 9, 2011 at 2:28 am

Thank you, Brett. As a young man, having gone through numerous years without a father, I find myself reading your articles ever more intently. It’s like you’re providing the wisdom my dear ol’ pops never got the chance to tell me. The thought of taking one of those lonesome, soul-searching trips out into the wilderness has been weighing ever more heavily on my mind, though I’m not sure what I expect to find or do out there. This article has given me a starting point on where to begin once I’m there.

On a side note, I completely agree with you; there’s something magical about putting a pen to paper. A keyboard works for those ADHD moments, when so much stuff is floating around the noggin that physical writing proves to be too slow to capture much of it. But with physical writing, I like to think of it as the only act a man can perform in which he physically creates something from nothing.

19 Frank February 9, 2011 at 2:29 am

I’m in my last semester of college, at a point in my life where I really should do this. Thanks for the great article Brett!

20 Randy Turner February 9, 2011 at 5:44 am

Great stuff, Brett. I agree with all the other comments and am encouraged to put a little pen to paper on this. The section above that talked about prioritizing your roles as a man reminded me of something I posted on this site about a year ago. The essay is called “Who are You?” http://community.artofmanliness.com/forum/topics/who-are-you-1

Great post and great site. Keep it up.

21 Luke February 9, 2011 at 9:30 am

Curtis T said it above, great article at the perfect time…going to be making some big life decisions coming up in the next year, and this is a perfect way to look ahead. Thanks bud, this was an awesome post.

22 Brad February 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

Great post as usual! Real-world applications one can put into use instantly.

23 Joshua February 9, 2011 at 10:59 am

What a great article. I’m going to go over this with my 10 year old young man tonight.

24 James S February 9, 2011 at 11:18 am

It is posts like this why I am glad I found this website. I started visiting in September, mainly to try to be a better man. Unfortunately, outside my wife, I have a pretty shallow support pool in this area. Thank you, Brett.

25 ramunas February 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

This is an awesome post!

26 Steve February 9, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Fantastic article. Figuring out what I really want is a challenge right now. I’m in a job that is a poor fit, and living in a new city where I don’t really have community. I’m here for four months, then back to law school. I feel like I’m waiting. Being in limbo like this gnaws at me soul! But this is good advice on how I might use my time while I am here.

By the way — I’ve started using stickk.com to make commitments and create an incentive to stick to them. The site requires you to pay money if you don’t follow through on your goal. You’re the one who says whether you did it or not, but still, it has a powerful effect. I get an e-mail once a week asking me how the goal is going, and a chance to reflect on how pursuing that goal is impacting my life. I’ve used it to quit coffee and start a new exercise regime. So far it’s been very effective. Well, I’ve been very effective! and I think stickk has helped.

27 Andrew February 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Beautifully stated. This says exactly what I’ve been trying to tell myself for the past year but in as perfect a way as anyone could say it… fine work again Brett! I hope you and your wife continue with this blog for years to come!

28 Daniel February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with Kyle F. (first poster).

This and your article about “The Age of Anomie” have been the most intrinsically helpful articles I’ve read in my lifetime. I’ve been stuck in a huge rut lately, feeling the feelings of anxiousness and restlessness, and these types of articles have been guiding me along most helpfully.

Thank you for your time and wisdom, Mr. McKay.

29 Heather February 9, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Every teenage boy needs this! I have noticed so many 18-23 year old guys (namely my 4 nephews) living with mom and dad, lacking direction, playing video games all day, dragging themselves to lackluster jobs.

Unfortunately girls have not raised the bar. They still sleep with them! But I know young women would really appreciate a man cultivating himself this way. We all eventually figure it out but it seems like our young men are wasting time and energy. Great post!

30 Ben February 9, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Awesome. Totally needed this. It’s difficult enough to try and figure it out on your own but having another model to compare and follow certainly helps.

My post college life is just eating away at my soul.

31 Strong Man February 9, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Very good. I’ve done this a few times, and probably need to do it again.

Heather’s thoughts about young men also apply to middle-aged men. Sometimes both categories get to drifting and could benefit from some real goals and direction.

In addition to this overhaul blueprint exercise, just some simple short-term weekly goals can also be very helpful–maybe even as a “baby-step” practice exercise to build your “going somewhere” muscles.

32 Cassandra February 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Fantastic article. T’was also helpful to me as a woman.

33 Perry Randall February 9, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. McKay, for another great article. I’ve only recently come to some of the same realizations, and set out to pay off my debt, and find a way to finance an education that is long overdue. This is in no small part due to my dear wife, without whom I would perhaps be doomed to the doldrums of mediocrity for the remainder of my existence.

She, combined with the wonderful community you have created here, allow an awesome support system for lifting myself out of this over-long lull in motivation.

Kindest Regards,

Perry

34 Henry @ barbie pink camper February 10, 2011 at 5:17 am

Very much detailed about the blue print of our life.. thanks for sharing
your insights… But we can not control what’s life ahead and not all
that we plan is perfectly happen…
Great article!

35 Travis February 10, 2011 at 8:35 am

Great post, I’m 31 married with two kids, and feeling in a rut. This is just what I needed to hear. I don’t know how you know, but you know!!

36 Chris E. February 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Great post. I, like many other readers have always been a dreamer, I remember when my mother was young she would always say you need to write out your goals and use that as a rough map to your life. I did that and have been ammending and continuing with goals all my life. This is a great tool for those out there that love to dream big and also get things done.

37 Tubby Mike February 10, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Interesting article Brett. I’ve been sent on several Covey seminars by previous employers and while I see the sense in Covey’s advice, I’ve always been guilty of struggling with tying up the long-term goals and mission statements with the chaos of the here and now. The deadlines for goals always seem unrealistic to my current situation. I guess my main problem was with the roles being what I wanted them to be; not what they are, in (harsh) reality. I’m currently working on a book by Nicholas Bate called “Get a Life”, which seems to take a similar approach to Covey but substitutes areas on a compass (career, finance, mind/body etc.) as opposed to roles. I must admit that this idiot finds that easier to grasp (although just as challenging).

If anyone is interested, the book can be found at http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1841126489/ref=mp_s_a_26?qid=1297385096&sr=8-26
It has a bit of a British slant on things but is mid-Atlantic enough to translate well and is full of practical tips to help one think about making and keeping a life blueprint or compass. You pays your money and choose your metaphor. I hope someone finds this useful.

38 Nick February 11, 2011 at 4:36 am

Brilliant post here as always, useful, clear and practical. Sometimes all it takes to make really good progress in your life is a bit of a framework, nothing too onerous, but just enough to make it clear what you need to do.

I think one of the most important things I’ve learned is that it’s OK not to want to do something if you don’t like it or if it doesn’t motivate you. I try to let those things slip out my life quietly and most of the time I don’t event notice. Those that I do miss, or that keep drawing me back, I return to.

39 Guy February 11, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Great post Brett. It gives good direction and focus. I’d comment though that it seems to me a good idea may be having your significant other clued in a bit on any goals that pertain to them. Its awesome we want our wife/girlfriend to remember us in certain ways, however writing up those specific acts you’ll perform so she will think of you as you like may not produce the outcome if they are clueless. For example you may be thinking that writing her a love note twice a month will prodcue your result when she is thinking….”boy these notes are nice but I really wish he would take out the garbage once in a while instead”.

40 Mike February 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm

This is a great article man. I esp. liked how the principles you laid out contains aspects of things that I’ve heard before. The repetition–sort like how if you’re looking for a new doctor and multiple recommendations of the same guy pops up–is good for me. Thanks for doing this website, I find it really helpful!

41 Duncan February 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Brilliant article – I’m just about to graduate college and this sort of focus is exactly what I need for myself.

42 Waldemar Gute February 13, 2011 at 10:49 pm

This is a great reminder to step back and take a look at the big picture from time to time. You don’t fully appreciate how the decisions you make early in your life impact the rest of your life’s course until you see the repercussions of those decisions years later.

Sometimes it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees, but it can be just as easy to miss the trees for the forest. Creating a life plan should involve being honest with yourself about the steps that exist between where you are and where you want to be.

Take higher education. So many people today (no thanks to a culture that encourages this) take earning degrees so seriously that they fail to consider the consequences of borrowing thousands of dollars for a degree. It *might* make sense for a bachelor’s degree, but going into debt (and spending years of your productive life) in grad school turns into a trap for far too many people.

On that note, here are 100 reasons NOT to go to grad school:
http://100rsns.blogspot.com/

A life plan is most helpful when it’s realistic. You can hope that there will be a job waiting for you after three years in law school, but there are no guarantees. And you can hope that you’ll finish a PhD in five years, but very few people do that. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, but it’s good to see clearly what is ahead of you.
And it’s a good idea not to let degrees distract you from the important things in life.

43 Recky February 15, 2011 at 2:23 am

This is a lifechanging post! Somehow you managed to look right inside me as this couldn’t be more relevant to my life right now. I will soon take a week off from work (was already planning to do so after a very busy period) and will make my blueprint. Last friday I had a Covey course at work and today I read this.. Coincidence? Probably..

44 George February 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

If this excellent article still hasn’t convinced you or you’re the cerebral type and you need to understand how important it is to have a fluid life plan that gives your life a self-defined meaning and purpose (without the psychiatric mumbo-jumbo), I recommend reading “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl. At 160 pages it’s an easy read, and there’s nothing like learning about meaning and purpose in life from a Holocaust survivor (it takes true manliness to live through four concentration camps).

45 Mike M. February 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve visited AoM. What a great article to come back to. The blueprint, the should, and the hustle are three great elements to assessing yourself. Personally, I’m trying to figure out what to do with my career and life and this article provided a great framework for me to build on in that quest.

One thing that will blend getting rid of the should and drafting my blueprint is going to be a list of dream jobs. I’ve always had a list of jobs I’d love to do but are completely unrealistic. I’m talking taro farmer in Hawaii, professional boxer, traveling handy man, that kind of thing. Tomorrow, I’m going to sit down and write out every one I can think of and ask myself why in the hell I find that so ridiculous? I can choose to do any of them if I’m willing to hustle. Thanks for these articles!

46 Adam February 16, 2011 at 8:29 am

Thanks Brett. You’re posts always reach me just when I need the advice you’re dispensing and knowing I’m not the only one struggling to be my best makes all the difference.
I’ve hit that point in my life where I need to change course and man this post really hit the mark. YOU ROCK!!!

47 Ewan February 16, 2011 at 6:29 pm

I started 2011 in a serious rut. For the first time this year I feel inspired. Wonderful article which I will be making the most of. Many thanks.

48 Nick Graham February 16, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I have done a variation of this each year for the last three years. It has been highly effective in me acheivingy own crazy goals. Great work and nice post.

49 Kit February 16, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Wonderful article! A fitting complement to what I call my Four Facets of Life:

I strive for health in
HEART – nurturing personal loving relationships with family, friends, colleagues and strangers
MIND – pursuit of knowledge and improvement of skills
BODY – keeping fit, eating well, and sleeping soundly
SOUL – a relationship with God built not on fear, but founded in love

I do my best to invest in all four equally, none more important than the other. I am Catholic, and sometimes I feel that the consensus is that the SOUL is the most important. I beg to disagree. I believe that living a balanced life is how God really wants us to live.

50 Brad February 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm

great article! as a coach, I use this type of map or landscape for planning with my clients and for myself. I’ve always done this, even as a young lad…what I find helpful is to bite things up – 1-3 yrs/3-5 yrs/ 5-10 yrs – then for each of those, I like to play with it…and do the blue print process as you describe it.

we as humans exist in 4 realms – mind ( how we think ); emotions ( how we feel ); spirit ( how we connect to the Divine and each other ); phyisical ( how we act it out/ do it ) – this blue print allows for each area to be addressed.
keep it coming!

51 Kevin February 19, 2011 at 12:18 am

Wow. I’m about 1 hour into step one and I’ve found myself exhausted, and with about 7 full pages written. This really is draining work, but I think it’ll be worth it.

52 Mike February 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Maybe I’ll be able to give myself a swift kick in the butt and do this. It will be a nice addition to my journal, which is due for me to give it some lovin’.

53 Sean Mathena February 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Great post!

I love this series, keep it going!

54 TJ Kastning February 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm

Would you gentlemen do me the honor of voting for my humble submission. I wish to be an engineer and helicopter pilot and this is a great opportunity to do just that. Statistics say if you give me a vote it’s likely you will find a large amount of money under your mattress tonight.

http://dockers.contextoptional.com/entries/21541

Thank you!

55 sam September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm

this is one of the most exceptional blog posts I have ever read. I read a fair amount of these self-help books to define goals/stop procrastination and what not, but this post really distilled these books into a thoughtful, actionable method.

Thank you!

56 Ron November 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm

Spot on man. Your posts are always very timely to what is going on in my life. Great post.

57 Clive December 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

Wrote my life plan as I went thru the article. Great article very helpful.

58 Steve December 3, 2012 at 7:26 am

Hey man, you really nailed. It’s true there a lot of people out there, that haven’t created a blue print and I think it’s because they haven’t seen the fun and peace that it can bring to one self.
Great Job!

59 Ayah December 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I’m a lady, I think this is relevant to all genders. I’ve had to work all my life long long hours, and then after my father died, I crashed. That was 2010. Now i find myself wanting to find a healthy way to live and work, not make work my main focus as the only time I ever have any routine is if I work. This structure great. Thank you very very much, this is life changing :)

60 efeme obahor January 4, 2013 at 10:24 pm

great article .it gave me the insight needed

61 Stefan February 9, 2013 at 11:35 am

Hey, this article has given me a huge push into the right direction. After I read it, I spent the whole day writing a guide for the years to come and I chose to change a major decision.

62 Martin April 10, 2013 at 12:26 pm

I am adapting this article into a lesson for a youth conference I’m teaching at for high school youth. I think it’s going to be awesome for them to hear and tackle these concepts now at an early age in their lives. And to look at the decisions they will be making as they leave home for college, military, workplace, marriage, etc. with these tools and truths in mind.

63 Jonathan June 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

This is an excellent article, I agree with everyone who has posted (I read through them all). It’s wonderful to see this community of people that are on board with this concept of self-improvement and clarification. It makes me feel refreshed and inspired by the energy everyone has. Thank you for this wonderful break-down. Maybe it was a stroke of inspiration, but I can see how it would’ve taken a lot of energy to organize and write out such an article. I really appreciate your contribution to your fellow human beings! Can’t wait to read your other articles others have been mentioning!

Best regards,

Jonathan

64 José July 4, 2013 at 12:32 pm

That’s just pure gold, Brett.
Too bad I found out about your website just this year. Anyway, I’m 21 and a long life ahead (I hope). This is really helpfull.

Regards from Brasil,

Jose Jones

65 Lahiru August 25, 2013 at 1:46 am

You are amazing, You really made a change in my life. I am going to work on my life blue print, I will keep on reading this article time to time and refresh it and follow your steps. It looks great and I was able to get out of a bad relationship, still I am feeling good with this article …

Thank You so much !

66 prasad September 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

Wonderful article. Absolutely love it. I have always thought there is less importance given to one’s emotional state/health. Goals should not just be focussed on career or money but it should be holistic.

67 David Enríquez September 28, 2013 at 12:50 am

Thank you so much!! You are great! God bless you. Regards from México,

David

68 Logan October 24, 2013 at 12:50 am

AoM has been a big inspiration to me. A lot of the topics you write about I already have basic knowledge of from the way my parents raised me. However you have a way of driving the point home and keeping what I understand relevant to today. I know countless “males” who have no concept of what it means to be a man, other then to do their basic animal function of mounting anything that will stand still long enough. If only more men had of been brought up in the art of being a “Man”, our world might be a very different place.

Thank you for all your work.

69 Cat October 24, 2013 at 10:45 am

This article is completely relevant for a woman as well. I find myself feeling lost and directionless all the time. In a job that I’m good at but detest. At the young age of 25 starting this practise hopefully gets me to my 5 year goals that seem to constantly be extended. Thank you for the article. It is relevant for any sex at any age. I must thank my mentor again for introducing me to this site.

70 Linda November 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

Thank you for sharing this useful information. I’ve just set up a new business group which starts tomorrow and this will be invaluable!

71 adam December 1, 2013 at 4:42 am

thanx you so much for this tips of life planning and my self i have started my own business.

regurds to all
from dar es slaam

72 boma January 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Brett this is good stuff.
just shared it out to my kids and i hope they make the best out of it.
life could just not be soo simple.
thanks for the inspiration
DON
CAMEROON

73 Mel Bond January 5, 2014 at 9:24 am

As I was contemplating how to be a man of focus and excellence (still searching for a catchy way to say that) in 2014, I remembered this series of posts. Three years later, these are still changing lives!

74 james mcmei February 8, 2014 at 7:51 am

sense of purpose comes out of a strong will of search of knowledge… I thank God I found this. great work.

75 Marquis Sadiq February 13, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Great link, this has really helped me out with my life, taking the time to write these down helped with setting priorities and recognizing where I am.

76 Dilpreet Bhatia February 16, 2014 at 1:46 am

Easier said than done, Clarity is a good thing and thanks for a really nice outline!!

77 Sandy March 31, 2014 at 5:12 am

From a lady..so nice to see all you guys interested and saying so! I am at the other end of the spectrum…have no commitments after have brought kids up, parents gone..my own person. Freedom can be as difficult as being stuck sometimes. So many choices to analyse is hard to decide which one to go with when I know life has no limits :). Thanks though…I am trying to figure out where to base myself after having travelled lots..I make goals all the time then life itself moves in other directions, jobs end, etc. A cancer survivor too so realise life is too short to waste. Thanks all of you. It will help to be back in touch. In the end..just doing SOMETHING is better than just doing NOTHING :) Cheers! Sandy

78 Kevin April 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Hi. I discovered your blog quite by accident at a time when I was in deep trouble. I think I was suffering from sloth, if one can ‘suffer’ from something like it. But your work is nothing short of incredible. I had already read a lot and spent time thinking about the direction I ought to take, but seeing my thoughts echoed here, and then seeing some more words of wisdom I hadn’t thought of is really encouraging. Thank you very much for your effort.

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