How to design your life

Meeting Topic

Set Aside Time to Plan By Gaylene Hughes

This meeting topic is contributed by Gaylene Hughes. In this article, Gaylene shares the value of setting aside time in your diary to put together not only your strategic plan for the year but 90-day plans to help you reach those overall objectives! In your 60-second introduction, consider weaving in a bit of information about one of the following thoughts:

  1. If you set aside time for regular planning, HOW do you ACTUALLY make it happen (as important but non-urgent work like this often gets put in the too hard basket)?
  2. Do you do this process alone or with someone else and if with someone else, how has this added value to your thinking?
  3. OR if you don’t regularly do this, share how you will commit to STARTING this practice in your business – what’s that easy first step?


Years ago at a conference in Bali, I observed a fellow attendee who was challenged to clean the leaves from an enormous swimming pool (full of water) with a butterfly net. He was given all day to complete the task – there were that many leaves!

He stuck it out for a good 10 minutes in the heat of the day, then sat on the edge of the pool to THINK. Observing people laughing & headed to the nearby gym, he asked them to join him in the pool for a few minutes. He promised them a good workout and some fun. The only rule? To chase him, running 2-abreast in the pool as hard as they could, in a clock-wise direction. The reward:

  1. a vortex of water which allowed him to quickly scoop up all the leaves
  2. a good work out, laughs and a few beers afterwards (for the newly enlisted team)
  3. a considerable amount of time spent (by him) that day on the beach

What are you currently doing that creates frustration and chews up your time that if addressed at a strategic level could create an opportunity?

The Power of Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning is an opportunity for you to dream big, to set some goals and objectives and then plan the actions that will ensure your vision is met. When done well, having a strategic plan can:

  1. Set the direction for all those involved in your business
  2. Lead to better-informed decisions and decisive action, and
  3. Provide a process & tool that clearly shows whether you’re achieving your goals (or not)

It often makes sense for a third party, independent of the organisation to facilitate this Strategic Planning exercise as they often bring a wider viewpoint and experience to the table.

The process will determine where you’re currently “at”, whether your original vision is clear and whether you’re achieving the outcomes you require. Starting with the end in mind, the process ensures you are focussed on long-term agreed targets over a 3-5-year period and you’re able to inspire and direct others to make it happen. At an individual level, you’re clear on what you want, what’s negotiable and what’s not.

Introduce 90 Day Planning: a simple, effective tool

The real value in having a Strategic Plan is when its implemented! Because once the bigger picture’s known, the next step is to chunk things down into smaller pieces – you may have heard the phrase “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” This is where that happens! You need the detail (written down of course – not just in your head!) so that you can hold yourself and/or others accountable.

This means setting some short-term goals and putting milestones in place once you have clarity, so you can time set aside for completion, then review every 90 Days. The review helps close any gaps and confirms you’re making progress. It’s that “feel good” factor.

I have found the 90 Day Planning process highly effective because everyone knows exactly where they and the business needs to be in 90 days. This can be a powerfully motivating process as it means action points are clear (and diarised) and people “own” the actions required. They can be held to account when things are not being achieved but also congratulated when things are going to plan.

The Quick & Dirty: 7 Steps to take to make your 90 Day Plan a Reality

  1. Using a white board, draw up 4 columns with 3-4 rows in each
  2. Focus on the 3-4 goals that MUST be achieved at the end of 3 months. Be very specific what these are, then
  3. List them in Column 1 with one row assigned to each Key Focus Area (KFA)
  4. In the next column (column 2), define the outcome or result that’s required beside each KFA. Again be specific – what do you truly want to achieve? Be realistic here!
  5. In the 3rd column, for each KFA, list how the result can be measured ($, #, %)
  6. Then in the last column (column 4), list all the action points required to make the KFA a reality. Here, detail is the key, because then
  7. Each action point must be diarised

When complete, take a photo of the whiteboard and transfer your plan to a brightly coloured piece of paper to ensure it doesn’t get caught up with other paperwork on your desk. Put it in a prominent place where it regularly catches your eye!

Diarise a time weekly (with yourself and your team if you have one) where you review progress being made against your 90 Day Plan – no exceptions, no excuses.

Remember, your plans can be updated at any time. They’re living documents designed to be regularly reviewed so you achieve that end result. Go for it!

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now” – Alan Lakein

You can find out more about Gaylene here:

Read original blog here

Next Meeting Topic

How to Design Your Life with a Crystal Clear Vision By Jo Robertson


For the past couple of meetings, we’ve focused on designing our strategy for our businesses. This time, our article (contributed by Jo Robertson) is focused on how we can design the strategy for our lives! In this article, Jo shares the importance of creating a clear vision for our future, because when we are clear on what we want, opportunities become clearer as well. By getting clear on what we want, we also become clearer on what we don’t want – what isn’t serving us. In your 60-second intro, consider addressing ONE of the following thoughts:

  • Have you ever used a vision board to support you to create your strategy for business or life? If so, how did you find it?
  • Has creating your vision provided you with clarity around where to focus your time and energy – what is one of those things that ‘made the cut’?
  • Have you had a time where you needed to ‘clear out’ people who weren’t lifting you on your journey?


Ten years ago I mapped my vision. I was ready for a change of pace and a different lifestyle. I was feeling uncertain about what I wanted, or how to get started and I was ready to set a new direction, so I got to work to create my vision collecting images and words that would help create a big picture of what I wanted my life to look like and feel like. The exercise provided a chance to reflect on my skills, qualities, strengths and experiences, to tap into my dreams and aspirations, and to prioritise what was important.

I still have the large sheets of paper folded up and carefully stored, and every now and then I get them out, reverently unfold them and the content of those pages still resonates with me and gives me purpose today.

It’s worth taking this time to create a vision, to decide what you want to paint upon your canvas of life, so you know:

  • where to focus your time
  • which opportunities to pursue and seize
  • which to decline and
  • the sorts of people you want to share your journey with

Creating a vision for life and working intentionally towards it puts you in the driver’s seat, so instead of just letting life happen– living life by default – you intentionally set out to design the life you want to live.

This process is an opportunity for you to also look at what no longer fits or serves you well.  By clearing out, we make space so we can step back and see with more clarity. It can be really freeing and can give us vitality and space to move forward. Sometimes having a coach or support person to help do this clearing out is a good place to start.

Recently when guiding a group of women through the process of mapping their vision, I decided to take the opportunity to work alongside them to create a new vision board and to revisit my “vision”.  It was a magic experience of reflecting and sharing as we put together our “visions” each setting a direction for our future.

It’s important now that we have patience and understand that the miracle of progress can seem invisible. We will need to keep faith, feel gratitude for whatever turns up each day, and surround ourselves with people who will support us and help to bring our emerging vision to reality.

It can take some time to form your vision. Sit quietly with it, and revisit it. Treasure it. Your vision is a very special thing you can do just for yourself.

Forming a vision can bring a wealth of opportunities to your life, whether you are a person who normally sets goals or not. You move forward with a sense of purpose of where you’re at and where you’re going.

I have my own proof that the opportunities people often experience after forming a vision can be simply amazing. You may find that ideas, people and events come into your life to make your vision happen. When opportunities present themselves, check in with the strength you have within yourself to go with them. If it feels right, then run with it. It’s sometimes only afterwards that you see the benefits that come your way as a result of an opportunity. These opportunities can be stepping stones leading to greater things.

I know you want to create your very best life, and you’re on your way to doing just that.  I would love to provide you with a gorgeous tool to help you create your vision and set a new direction for your future. Go ahead and sign up to grab this FREE booklet to help you:  Map My Vision

You can find out more about Jo here:

Original blog here…

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