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People Who Do Planning Retreat Every now and then it is worth taking time out to check where we are heading. Not just this week or month but for the whole year, the next decade, the rest of our lives. Time moves faster the older we get and we need to make the most of it. If you reach a point where questions like these loom in your mind: • What am I doing? • Why am I doing it? • When do I have to have it done? Or: • • • •

Where am I heading in my life? Why am I doing this job? Where is this relationship heading? What’s it all for?

Or: • Why am I am so bored ...? • Why do I have a general feeling of unease? ... then it’s time to take stock and consider what you want. This book outlines a process that can help you to reconsider what you’ve been doing, decide what you really need to be doing and clarify how you can move from one to the other.

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Laying Out The Framework We typically function at various levels of focus in our lives. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Current tasks (Helipad) Current projects (1,000 Feet) Areas of responsibility (3,000 Feet) Yearly goals (5,000 Feet) 5 year vision (7,000 Feet) Life goals (10,000 Feet)

It’s easy to see how the things higher up the list drive those lower down. It’s easy to see how the list fits in to a work structure. We can apply this to all aspects of our lives. It is common for us to stay too focussed on levels 1, 2 and 3 (and sometimes 4) without much consideration of 5 and 6. If we think clearly about what we want from our lives and from the next five years, we can start to take responsibility and plan how to achieve our goals so ensuring that what we do day to day is getting us closer to our aims. This process in this book will encompass all of these levels.


Step 1 - The View At 3,000 Feet The flight path of a helicopter is a useful analogy for thinking about the various levels of focus. The ‘helicopter’ analogy is also good because you can ‘hover’ in a helicopter and take a very considered view of things. Let’s start at 3,000 feet and consider the following questions:

What are my current areas of... 1. Focus? 2. Interest? 3. Responsibility? This is not just about work; consider all aspects of your life. Note down below, all the things your focused on, interested in and responsible for.





Step 2 - The View At 3,000 Feet - Life Area’s Now you have identified your focus, interests and responsibilities, give some consideration to each of the key areas of your life. Make a list under each of the headings. Take a half page for each of them and note down your thoughts.

What am I doing in each of these life areas?: Work/career/professional development Health (Vitality: exercise, nutrition, energy level) Family Partnership Friends Finances Home Community Service Creative and artistic expression Personal growth/spirituality Fun & Adventure Holiday/time off Add any further headings you feel are relevant. Leave any out that have no relevance to you.

Ask yourself: How am I doing in each of these areas?

How much time am I spending on each area? Review your notes and note in the margin how much time you have had for each area. Give a percentage rating to each. It does not have to be accurate, just give a score you feel is appropriate. If that doesn’t feel right make a note for each area as to whether the time you have spent was about right or too much or too little.


Some further questions: What projects (personal and professional) should I have on my list that I don’t have yet? Does the time I have allocated to each area feel balanced? If not, where should I shift the balance? What projects do I have on at the moment: work / personal, large / small (make a list) What projects might I want to do in the future someday / maybe? What do I fall asleep concerned or worried about? What have I been resisting? What (if anything) has been causing me to feel out of balance? What conversations have I NOT had with people close to me, personally and/or professionally? What surfaces when I think about them? Have I done any creative/artistic/me projects in the past six months? What projects (personal and professional) should I have on my list that I don’t have yet? Have I done anything just for FUN in the past 3-6 months?




Step 3 - 5,000 Feet Up - 12 Month Review At this stage in the refocus flight it is helpful to climb a little higher to consider where we’ve been. Take your diary or calender and review the past twelve months day by day.

Make a long list of all the achievements and milestones you have encountered over the past year. Organise the list under the life area headings. Your list may contain anything that is significant to you.

Life Areas: • Work/career/professional development • Health • Family • Partnership • Friends • Finances

• • • • • •

Home Community Service Creative and artistic expression Personal growth/spirituality Fun & Adventure Anything else that matters to you

Make sure you include: • • • • • • •

Work projects delivered or worked on Targets met Personal achievements Major purchases Holidays Parties Birthdays (yours, family and friends)

• Other celebrations (christenings, funerals) • Memorable days with friends and family • Key achievements or milestones by friends or family that matter to you • Other significant milestones

What did you spend your time doing? Take a look at the distribution of the milestones you picked out. Do any life areas receive more attention than others. How does this compare with your rough estimates for step 2? Does it feel right?

Some further questions: Look back at the “further questions” on “Step 2 Cont”, do you want to modify or add anything to your previous answers?





Step 4 - 10,000 Feet - Guiding Principles These days we often fail to give consideration to our guiding principles: our values. It is easy to assume we know what they are and that we stick to them rigidly. In fact we are often influenced by external things without realising it (advertising, corporate culture). Being clear about what matters to you can be very helpful in deciding what you should be doing and how you should do it. When you are defining what defines you, it can be useful to discuss with other people what matters. It gives you a sounding board, something to compare yourself with. It’s also important to be realistic. This exercise is not about being noble: it’s about being honest with yourself. Make a list of your guiding principles and values: the way you think you are and the things you value. Take a page and list the principles and qualities. Expand on them if you need to.

How do you measure up against your own values? Look over your current and recent activities in the previous steps. Are you successfully sticking to your principles? If not do you need to change the way you do things? Do you need to rethink your principles and bring your stated values in line with your reality? There is no right answer here: go with what feels right for you. Understanding why and how you do things is very helpful when trying to make long and medium range plans, which in turn will inform what you should be focused on in the short term.



Step 5 - 10,000 Feet - The 100 Year Chart This exercise will help you visualise what you might do with the rest of your life, follow these intructions and complete your personal 100 year chart.

Set up the Chart • The chart is designed with a span of 100 years across the top, starting at year 0. Year ‘0’ is your birth date. We have already plotted your age in ten year intervals up to 100: there’s a good chance we’ll all live that long. • The chart is bisected at the current year. Everything to the left has happened, everything to the right has the potential to happen. • The chart has a key for each of the life areas, choose your colour scheme and use these to plot past and future activities and milestones. Mark each life area or activity in the left margin. • Take a block for the first life area, work and training and starting in pencil, plot your education and jobs to date along one line (use additional lines for overlapping activities). Add colour once you are happy and annotate lines if you need to • Project this into the future – how long will you stay in your current role, what learning do you want to do in the future? • Now add detail for each life area, think about how the future might pan out. Add you own life areas to the key if you want to. • Be bold: as well as the obvious milestones, set your self some adventures or challenges for later in life. Where will you live, who with, what could you do? When you have finished you will have a graphical representation of how your life could pan out and a sense of where you are on your life journey. If you need some suggestions for what you could include look at the continuation sheet overleaf.


Step 5 cont - 10,000 Feet - The 100 Year Chart Adding the detail This is your chart so it is up to you, but topics could include: Finance: Dates of income available from your employment Dates of income available from a partner’s employment Any mortgage, overall dates, mortgage rate changes contracted, planned mortgage completion Other major financial events, e.g. any pension start dates and ongoing income

Home Life: Marriage dates Children born Children’s significant dates, training, leaving home etc Any significant family deaths Holidays planned

Non work activities: Ambitions Skills Hobbies Clearly everyone will have their own individual set of significant line items and dates, but please think of the key ones which impact on your life. To help you identify what you might do in a 100 year life span consider the 20:10 exercise from the next worksheet (step 6). The questions below might also help: Are there any big goals I have for my life? What does a successful career mean to me? How will I measure that success – how will I know I have succeeded? What are the other things in my life I want to succeed at? How will I measure that success? What kinds of relationships do I want to have with people What sort of person do I want to be? At my present time in life, is it time for a change?




Step 6 - 10,000 Feet - 20:10 We are considering what our long term life long plan might include. This can be difficult to conceptualise. If you are having trouble visualising what you might do with your life, try this optional focusing exercise. Imagine you had £20 million in the bank – a mystery benefactor has credited your account no strings attached. Take a page or two to note down: • • • • • •

What do you do now? Where do you go? Do you work? Where do you live? Who do you spend time with? What do you spend your money on?

Now change the scenario. Imagine the money thing never happened and you’ve been to the doctor with a bad case of flu. Only you’ve been diagnosed with a fatal disease that fixes your remaining life span to one decade. You have ten years to live. Bummer. Take a page or two to note down: • • • • • •

What do you do now? Where do you go? Do you work? Where do you live? Who do you spend time with? What do you spend your money on?

One more thought: Do your answers to these questions fit with your guiding principles? If not maybe you need to redefine what motivates you and what makes you tick?




Step 7 - The Five Year View Here’s another tool you can use. For each life area, take a circle (use those that follow and add more if you need to). In the circle, capture what you would like to achieve in the next five years in that life area.

Life Areas: • Work/career/professional development • Health • Family • Partnership • Friends • Finances

• • • • • •

Home Community Service Creative and artistic expression Personal growth/spirituality Fun & Adventure Anything else that matters to you

How you fill in the circle is upto you. Make a pie chart, a clock, draw pictures, use words. Whatever works for you. You might want to use a circle to represent how you’ll balance your life across the life areas. • Now go back and review your earlier notes and decide which current and recent activities will continue. What are your objectives for these? Some will have been completed, some will lead to new activities and others will prompt you to plan completely new things. Add the objective for each continuing activity under your life area lists for the next five years. • Look over your 100 year chart. Which long range activities fall in to the next five years, have you already included them, if not what are the objectives for these? • Review your list of objectives, do you have something for each life area. How is the balance? Does it reflect any adjustments you want to make? If there are gaps think hard about how you could fill them – open it up for discussion if you want to. • Include any important milestones under each area (kids leaving home, major anniversaries, mortgage renewals...). • Finally how do your objectives measure up against your guiding principles? Look at some of the following examples to get some inspiration. The circles represent a wish list of what might happen. Don’t worry too much about wether you can fit it all in. Rather, think of this step as a leader up to your one year plan.

If you are struggling... Try the optional exercise on step 8 to help you visualise where you could be in five years time. When you are ready, you can either move on to your short term planning and start thinking about the next 12 months (step 9) .






Step 8 - 7,000 Feet - 5 Year Retrospective This is an optional exercise. If you are having trouble framing the next five years for each of your life areas try answering the following questions. They will help you get a feel for where you were five years ago and will help you get a view on how things could change over the next five years. Five years ago it was ............................ (enter year here). Where were you living? Who were you with? Where did you work? What was your job title? How much did you earn? Who was your most important customer? What age would your parents have been? If you have siblings where were they living and what were they doing? If you have children, how old were they and what were they doing? Where did you go on holiday that year? Where did you spend Christmas? What did you get for your birthday? What did you think you would be doing in five years time (now)? Were you happy then? Take each life area from step 2 and try and remember what else was happening five years ago. Take a page or two and write down the answers to the questions.




Step 9 - Returning To 5,000 and 3,000 Feet - Planning for the next year Soon we will complete a chart for the next year. Before we do that there is more detail to consider. Before we get to that stage it is helpful to list all the activities we expect and want to do this year. We’ll then evaluate them before committing them to our plan. Take the next few pages to complete these exercises:

Transpose the Five year Plan Starting with your five year objectives using the circles: • Under the headings of your life areas and areas of focus, interest and responsibilities, and giving half to one page to each, list all of the elements of the five year plan that are active over the first twelve month period. • Allocate twelve month goals for each of these activities. • List the key milestones that will occur this year. • Make sure you include things like holidays, visits to friends and family.

Now return to your areas of focus and life areas from steps 1 and 2 Briefly and for the final time, review your current activities. Is there anything else that needs to be included in the year plan? There may be things that did not make it to the five year plan that might still have relevance in the short term. Include everything that you intend to continue with plus any other ideas that have occurred to you during the day. There are likely to be new activities that you may wish to embark on this year, make sure these are included. There may be things that you have identified you no longer wish to continue with. Make a separate list of these too. Some of these can simply be abandoned, others may require some work to allow you to exit from them, we’ll need to plan for that.

Consider your answers to these questions: How does your plan for the next year measure up against your guiding principles? Do you need to refocus some of your existing activities and projects? Do you need to redistribute your time to make space for other goals? Do you need to take responsibility for new things? Do you need to let go of some areas of responsibility?




Step 10 - Returning To 1,000 Feet – Identifying Projects For Each Activity Your review of your areas of focus will have identified new activities and activities you wish to abandon, in addition there will be many that you intend to continue with. All of these activities will have a number of active projects that you’ll be undertaking to move you closer to your goals. In this context a project is anything that has more than one next action associated with it. Projects can be big things like buying a house or launching a business, they can be small things like getting your car taxed and Mot’d (did you include those on your list?!). Make a list of all the projects you associate with all of the active and future activities you have listed under the life areas and areas of focus, interest and responsibilities for the next year. Some activities or areas are self contained projects in their own right, others involve multiple projects – that’s fine just make sure you have everything broken down to project level.

For each project make a note of the following: 1. What does this project look like when it’s finished? 2. How much time will it take? 3. What resources will it require? This will help you determine when and how each thing will happen, especially when it comes to planning your time. Some projects are small and self explanatory. Others may need time allocated for dedicated planning. If you want to, you can use the spare pages in your exercise book to map out some project plans.

Some prompts to get you thinking: • You might have a number of new projects which might include: getting retrained, getting promoted, changing jobs, finding a life partner. • They might include taking up a new hobby, working on your home, building relationships with family and friends. They may be big or small but they should all tie in with your ambitions. • You might now be able to see that there are projects you should not be doing, that are taking you away from the direction you want to travel. • Moving yourself out of an activity might be a project in itself. Now you can give some thought to the steps you need to take to make it happen.

Ask yourself: Do all my projects move me closer to my stated short medium and long term goals? What otherprojects (personal and professional) should I have on my active list? What projects should I get rid of because they are not about me or what I do? Do these projects fit with my guiding principles? 36


Step11 - Returning To 1,000 Feet - The 1 Year Chart Now it’s time to add all of the activities, milestones and projects for the next twelve months to a chart. This will help you visualise your year and make sure your planning is realistic. It will soon be come clear if you have given yourself too much to do. This chart is optional, if you prefer you can use your own calendar to plan your activities. Make sure you include activities for each life area as well as start dates. If you choose this option remember it can be useful to roughly plan periods of activities on paper first, even if you don’t fully complete the chart. Once you are happy you can update your calendar with the key activities and milestones.

Set up the chart • Take the 1 year chart from the back of your exercise book. It is set up much as for the earlier charts, with months along the top and areas of activity in the left margin. • Set up your key colours for each life area. • Taking a block for each life area mark in lines to represent each period of activity. • Immediately below the line marking the active period for each activity colour in squares to represent each of the projects and their timing. (In some cases an activity and a project are one and the same: just mark in the squares). • Transpose all of the activities and milestones from the lists for your year plan (steps 9 and 10). • Annotate the chart carefully so you can see what’s what. • You’ll need to think about when you allocate time for each activity and project. This acts as a great reality check, helping you to see what you can realistically achieve and when. • If you have planned too optimistically you might need to leave some things for the next year. • Don’t forget those family milestones, holidays and time with friends, partners and family.

Summarise your plan Once you have completed your chart summarise all the milestones and goals you have set for the year in a final list in the far right column of the chart. These will be a useful reference point for you throughout the year. Refer to this list once a month or so and tick things off as you complete them. Make a note in your diary to do this. 38


Step 12 - Coming in to land The final step is to decide exactly what needs to happen next to start or move each project forward. By allocating well defined next actions now, you can make sure your projects and activities have the best possible chance of being completed. Scan through your project list and note down the next action required to move the project forward. Make these physical/do-able actions - these will help your projects move from the list to the real world. Strong next actions have the following hallmarks: • • • •

they include a doing verb they have a specific outcome They are context specific (email , phone, online) they represent the very next doable thing for that project

Good examples Research online versions of current sales software and make a list of pro’s and cons Phone accountant regarding shutting down joeblogs LTD Bad examples Change sales software Shut down joeblogs LTD Put them in your system if you use one: keep time specific actions on the Calendar and everything else on a list of Next Actions. If you don’t use a system, use the next few pages to note these things down as a todo list. Put any time sensitive actions straight into your calendar. You can use your calendar to prompt you to start future projects. Enter the relevant next action at the relevant date. When you come to that date you will know exactly what to do to get the project moving.





Notes: Please use the rest of this notebook for your own writing, thoughts, ideas and creativity..... You might find it useful to make notes during the next 12 months about your progress and ideas you want to develop in the future. It will be a useful tool if you choose to do a review in further years.









Thank You At the end of this process we hope that you are able to enjoy a sense of clarity and renewed motivation to do things you want to do and be what you want to be. If you need any advice or feedback on this planning exercise or our other services please get in touch:


Planning Retreat Book  

Follow our free step by step guide that enables you to work out where you've been and where you want to go in life, work, play.

Planning Retreat Book  

Follow our free step by step guide that enables you to work out where you've been and where you want to go in life, work, play.