This is a period of reflections – a time when many of us sit down to draw up our New Year Resolutions. I look around and see so many great men and women of yesterday. They are no longer considered great by the society. Why is this so? Their names were synonymous with power, and their power was money in those days. Where did something go wrong with them? Why are they not popular any longer? Why are they poor today? Where did all the money go? Where are their connections of old? Where are all those powers of the past?
As I search, I see the reason. These people failed in one area. And it is a key area. They failed to draw up their personal life blueprint.
If you are still young, you are lucky; time is on your side. You can draw up your life blueprint today. If you are still in employment, I rejoice with you. You can fill the vacuum in your life, and end up happy. If you are old now, don’t despair. You can still pick up from where you stand today. The past might have been bitter; the future can be made better.
So what is a personal life blueprint?
It is simply the “business plan” of your life. The only difference here is that the plan is about you. The “business” is YOU. Is it not amazing that many business executives are marvelous in producing fantastic business plans for their companies, but fail woefully when it comes to their personal life plans? Well, don’t be surprised. Perquisites of office have a way of beclouding people. Yet, time waits for no one.
If you are a young person just starting out in life, hear the words of wisdom. Stop for a moment, grab your writing material and do some thinking. You need to draw a plan for your life. Every builder knows that having a building plan in place is the first step in construction. You don’t just clear the ground and start digging the holes without knowing what you intend to build there. That would be stupid. And people would see you as silly. Why, then, do we fail to do the same for our life? The answer is not far-fetched. Many people don’t know. And so many don’t care! Now you know; you must care. You are the building. YOU must be planned and be built according to specifications – YOUR specifications.
How is a business plan prepared?
Preparation of a business plan usually starts from the mind; mostly the mind of the business owner or promoter. This man must first figure out certain things in his mind. He must decide on the kind of business to be founded. When he is certain of this, other things will follow. He figures out the kind of market he wants to serve. He determines how much he would need for the business. He comes up with Vision and Mission statements. He employs people to work with him. He focuses on his dream, and so forth.
Drawing up your personal life blueprint is not too different. It is likely that you’ve been involved in business plan preparation at one point or the other. The difference is that you have never thought of doing the same for your life.
As with a business plan, so it is with your personal life blueprint. The starting point has to be your mind. You must first determine the person YOU want to be; because your aim is to build The YOU Corporation. This is the critical stage of drawing up your life blueprint and you need to be sincere with yourself. You have to ask yourself a number of key questions before coming up with the appropriate “business” to be run by YOU Corporation. I can’t do that for you. And no one else can do that for you either. It has to be you; but I can guide you.
Deciding on who you want to carve out as YOU has to be done in line with your existing strengths, and those little strengths you can strengthen. Each and every man or woman under the sun has some unique talents given to them by God. Sadly, many people fail to notice this. Yet, your strengths are the bedrock of your life.
What are strengths? You may ask. I will borrow a definition from Brian Tracy. He defines strength as “consistent near perfect performance in an activity.” Now you know it. Your strength is anything you can do well effortlessly almost all the time – something that you do “repeatedly, happily, and successfully.”
In the past, I used to see strengths as those extraordinary things that some people do but others find so hard to achieve. Little did I know that strengths can be found in those small things we often overlook. Yet these are the things that make each person. Thanks to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton who, in their book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” affirm that you and I possess certain universal personal attributes which can make us excel in life when properly harnessed. The book contains about 30 distinct attributes that can set each and every one of us apart. Areas of strengths, according to the authors, include, among others:
- Communication – one who uses words to inspire action and education;
- Analytical – one who requires data and/or proof to make sense of issues;
- Developer – one who sees the untapped potentials in others.
When you look at these three examples, your mind starts to think of so many things. You start to figure out what someone who is strong in communication can do. You envision the business that an analytical person can do well. And you look at the areas where a developer can excel. That is the essence of discovering your strengths. You need it to chart the right course for your future.
Your Vision and Mission in Life
Organizations build business plans to support their corporate Vision and Mission. A company’s Vision Statement describes what the organization wants to be, or well known for, in the future. A Mission Statement defines the objectives of the company and the approach it would adopt to achieve those objectives. In other words, the Vision statement focuses on the organization’s future aspiration while the mission statement focuses on the present roles it needs to play to achieve the set vision.
You as an individual equally need Vision and Mission Statements. “My people perish without vision,” so says the Holy Book. You must have a personal vision which describes what you intend to be in life. It defines your existence; your being. How do you want to be remembered when you are no more? What would you like people to say about you when you are gone? What are the marks you want to leave on the surface of the earth? All these should form part of your personal vision statement. I can, for instance, aim to become the President of my country and be able to serve the entire citizenry. That is a vision. Yours may be to end up as a church pastor preaching the Word of God. That, again, is a vision.
In the same way that companies define the steps to be taken towards achieving their corporate vision, you too must define those things you need to do to achieve your personal goals. This is where your strengths become more pronounced. You need your identified personal strengths to drive your mission in life. When your mission is clear, you would be able to ask yourself, “Can I successfully pursue my chosen vision?” But hold it. I am a strong believer in the fact that we are capable of pursuing any Vision we individually set for ourselves. Yes, it is a fact! We can! If I truly set the Vision of becoming the President of Nigeria, I can achieve it. It may only require that I tweak my Mission towards that. And no matter how long it takes, I will be there, and I may not need to persevere longer than Abraham Lincoln did.
Your personal model
Flowing from your personal mission statement would be your personal model. An organization’s business model describes the core aspects of the company’s business such as its purpose, offerings, strategies, infrastructure, organizational structures, trading practices, and operational processes and policies. You need a similar model for your personal life. How do you intend to live your life? What are those things you will be doing and what will you avoid? What are the tasks you would be carrying out, and how?
This is where self-discipline comes to play in your life. You must walk your talk to achieve your aims. Brian Tracy defines self-discipline as “doing what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.” You must be committed to your personal life model, come rain, come shine.
My friend has a unique strategy for this. He breaks down his life into different segments to indicate what he would be doing at each stage. And he pursues his plans to the letter. It is not surprising that he’s one of the self-fulfilled men I have ever known. He walks his talk.
Back to those great men. Imagine how sweet life would have been for them if they had followed the steps described above. They would have been able to identify what they wanted in life, and pursued them vigorously. They would have been able to discover those things they were very good at, and formulate the plans of achieving their life goals.
I will not deceive you; I am not an expert or a consultant in human development. Rather, I am an ordinary human being like most people. I cannot talk to you about human development theories that our so-called experts present to us every time, and we eventually realize that those theories are impracticable!
Ask me if I’ve always practiced what I’m preaching in this post, and I will answer you, “No!” But that was then. Now I do; because it works. I now know what I want in life. I have my personal life model in place, and I follow my passion.
A little caution before I end this piece. It is very difficult to script a life. Otherwise it would be an ordinary movie. Yet life is a reality, not a film show. That is to say that your life journey cannot always be as drawn up in your notebook. It is a reality that organizations also face, but they manage to achieve their objectives. Air planes fly under various weather conditions in the air, yet they land safely.
In your life, your blueprint will run into one form of turbulence or the other. But stay the course. Keep faith, and keep flying. All turbulences are for a period. You will get there.
Happy 2012 in advance!