Maximize Your Process with a Self-Management Plan

No matter your passions or career path, everyone is capable of achieving their dreams if they foster a sense of purpose. Once you’ve figured out the ideal kind of life you want to lead, the next step, before you take the leap into action, is to come up with a plan of attack.

In my book, Love Your Life, I use the illustration of a gardener to break down this process:

A master gardener has an empty plot of ground in which to sow a new garden. She isn’t going to simply start sticking plants in the earth here and there. She's going to assess what she has to start with by testing the soil and determining what it needs to support the plants she wants to grow.

. . . And then as our master gardener begins to plant her garden, she will position each flower, bulb, tree and bush with an eye to how they will look on their own, as well as in relation to their surroundings.

This is no different for us when we’re creating the life we want.

The lesson is that you are the master gardener of your life. And after you figure out what to plant in your garden, and what you want it to look like, you need to consider the time-frame of the planting process. Just having the dream is the beginning, but taking action to make it a reality is the essential next step.

Planning Your Time

Though it seems paradoxical, the people who tend to get things done are often the ones with the most to do. Busy people are rather adept at the art of “making time.” Do you find that you have passions and dreams, but put them off because you don’t have the time? Well, the secret is to make the time. This is a fact of life—it may not be easy, but it’s true.

You will not create the life or career of your dreams if you wait to find the time to get started. Productive time is not found. It is made. If creating a life you love is actually a priority for you, then I challenge you to make time for it every single day. Block out time each day or week, mark it on your calendar like you would an appointment. Once you set aside the time, you can put in the work.

Establish a Writing Habit

This doesn’t mean that you have to be a passionate writer, but rather that you put in the time to log your thoughts, ideas, dreams, and more. This way, you can spend time with your thoughts and get important information down. There are so many different forms of writing that can help you start achieving your goals.

When you research the career you want to work in, take notes! This can come from talking to professionals, or simply doing your own digging. Another key to the time-management aspect of this is to write task lists, so you always know what you need to do next. Don’t leave room for stagnation. Life moves fast—it's so easy to forget what you need to do and what matters. Writing these things down eliminates that risk, so you’ll always have a touchstone to return to.

Managing Overwhelm

Investing in self-discovery and the life you’re dreaming of is hard work. Like I said before, life moves fast. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything to do, as well as by the prospect of redefining your entire perspective. But I encourage you to hang in there. All the list-making and planning is helping you to create your perfect life. When overwhelming feelings arise, you need to meet them-head on.

The first step to combating overwhelm is to reframe it. You’re not overwhelmed, you just have a lot you want to do today. Language shapes reality, so the language you use about what overwhelms you can hurt or help your situation. You can handle more problems effectively when you describe your experiences differently. And guess what—you can ask for help. Delegate tasks. You don’t have to do everything alone.

Your willingness to develop and use a self-management system will allow you to handle every area of your life with ease. You will become more fully present and better able to recognize your ideal life when you reach that destination. So, go ahead and get started creating a life you’ll love. The sky’s the limit!