Live the Story You Want to Read (And Why You Need a Life Plan)

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
– Steve Jobs

You got up every morning…went to school…got straight As…went to a great college….got a 4.0…landed a great job…and there’s still a little voice inside that says, “Are you living up to your potential?”

Trust me. We’ve all been there. And before things start sounding too Sunday-morning infomercial, let me say you’re not alone.

Truth is, most people go through school never taking a course that asked them about their passions and taught them how to reflect — how to ask the meaningful introspective questions that spark the inner drive.

In fact, Pete Herr shares 10 Things We Should Teach You in High School, But Usually Don’t on this interview.

It’s okay to keep searching

Traditional public schooling isn’t there to help you find your purpose. It’s actually there to help build factory workers, but the truth is…the world doesn’t need as many factory workers. Or left-brain number crunchers. Just ask Daniel Pink: “The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind.”

It needs thinkers, doers, changemakers, conceptualizers, creatives… it needs YOU.

One purpose, two purpose, three purpose, four… (or more)

Very often, I hear someone say, “I need to find the one thing I’m meant to do in this world.”

That’s way too stressful and unrealistic.

I distinctly remember a time in my life when I stressed out about finding my one true purpose. I spent days on end going to a bookstore/coffee shop and got every self-help book on careers I could find. I dyed my hair black and listened to punk, then dyed my hair blond and listened to jazz. I prayed to God, meditated like Buddha and all it brought was more stress on finding my one true path (and a serious caffeine buzz).

I learned to let go.

You can have many purposes in the world and it will probably change as new elements of your life come together — like a marriage, a new baby, or a life-changing event.

What’s important and often neglected is that you need to focus on one purpose at a time. Otherwise, you’ll be exhausted and driving in all different directions.

The goal here is to keep moving forward and be the driver. You ready?

I think it was Yogi Berra who said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” In other words, you need to take charge of where you are going.

In today’s socially connected world, if you don’t take control of where you want to go, someone is bound to do it for you.

Chances are, if you’re still reading this, you want massive change in your life — a shift towards living a life you want to be remembered by instead of building up an impressive resume that leaves a numb feeling inside. A life full of purpose. Your unique purpose that ties your story together.

Or perhaps you just want to check in with yourself and make sure the life you are living feeds your soul. I get that. Hey, that’s why I take at least one day per year to write and reflect on my annual life plan. Here’s the template I use.

(Let me be clear: I don’t like the term “life plan”. It’s too Sunday morning infomercial for me, but it’s clear and direct, so I’ll let it be. If you do know of a better term, let me know.)

Taking the time to complete a life plan puts you in charge of your story. It allows you to be the driver instead of a passenger in someone else’s car.

Perhaps you won’t even write much down. That’s OK. But I guarantee that you’ll be full of thought throughout your day. In fact, the harder these questions are to think about, the more likely it is that you need this in your life.

This will all change, of course. What you decide right now as your purpose will most definitely change in either large or small shifts. Such is the beauty of life.