Life is full of decision points. Some decisions are fun, such as where to spend a vacation. Others, however, change the trajectory of your entire life. Choices about education, career, where to live, who to marry and whether to welcome children into your family have lifelong consequences. Often, decisions come down to choosing between somethinggood and something better.
When you've finally made those life decisions, when you've chosen a vision for your life, the task then becomes staying on track. Catching the vision of your "best life" is still a long way from actually getting there. If you're looking to make major changes in your life, here are three ways to stay committed to your plans.
Plan with the end in mind
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutiae of life and forget what you're really working for. Take time each day to reflect on your life's direction, and measure your current actions against whether they'll help you achieve your end goal. For example, burning through money buying luxury items will not help you reach your goal of retiring with dignity. Or, overscheduling your family will not help you reach your goal of achieving family unity.
Keeping the end goal in constant sight requires you to block out people and actions around you that detract from your goals. All worthwhile plans require some amount of sacrifice, so participating in the never-ending comparison game is never in your best interest. Everyone is at a different point in their journey, and we all get further when we lift each other up.
Hope for the best while planning for everything
Hope is the cornerstone of a solid life plan. After all, what's the use in planning for future outcomes if you believe the worst is yet to come. Make no mistake, your best days can still be ahead of you, no matter your age. When you're planning your life, set goals with a hopeful, as opposed to a pessimistic, mindset.
However, as Carlos Gadoy has said, “The best paths in life are rarely the easiest.” Realize that life rarely goes as planned. Prepare yourself and your family for any contingency, and keep an open mind to course corrections throughout your life. Some of the most beautiful circumstances come after a major life plot twist. One of the best ways to continue preparing yourself is through education, whether it be formal higher education, training programs or general learning through personal study. The day you stop learning is the day you stop growing, and nothing will derail your good intentions faster than getting stuck in a rut.
Create a network of support
In order to achieve your best life, those closest to you must buy into your vision. Spouses must agree on all career plans, plans for children and financial decisions. If you can't get on the same page with your husband or wife, you can't succeed. Marriage is only half staying in love; the other half is travelling the same road together.
You'll also need a strong support network when the going gets tough. If you haven't already, surround yourself with people who inspire you, and minimize your time with those who bring you down. Life is too short and your time is too precious to spend with those who don't believe in you. Look for mentors and friends who share your values and encourage your personal growth.
Picture your life in five years. How about ten? What about twenty? It's never too soon to start planning the future you want to live. Even if all your plans don't pan out the way you'd envisioned, working towards a noble goal is never wasted time.
Heather Hale is a fourth-generation Montanan, mom to three crazy boys, and wife to one amazing husband. You can learn more about her eco-conscious lifestyle at moderatelycrunchy.com.