I have the firm belief that it’s impossible to make a really great plan for the future unless you take time to reflect on the past.
That’s the thinking behind the Personal Planning Tool I’ve been offering you since 2009. Every year I update it for the coming year and this time when I wrote out the new date, I said something eloquent and thoughtful.
I said, “Whoa.”
As in, whoa, what a great opportunity to reflect on everything that’s happened in 2019 as we plan for 2020, but why not look waaaay back? Why not look at where we all were in 2010?
So I sat down, and I am known to do, and created a tool to do that reflection. What were the most powerful questions? What got to the heart of the matter?
I made a copy of my handwritten draft and walked myself through the emerging process. Tweaked. Refined.
Then I sent my handwritten, scrawled out notes to a dozen helpful souls who offered to try it and provide helpful and critical feedback.
I waited. But before long my email started to ping with messages like this:
“I was surprised by the theme of taking care of my physical body. I’m seeing my family age and it suddenly feels URGENT to care for my vessel in ways it never did before. This came through so loud and clear as I filled this out.”
“I thought the whole review was thought provoking and valuable. The big surprise to me was the question: If you could send a message from today to your 2030 self, what would you say? As I read it, I teared up. Big time. At first I thought the question didn’t make sense – easier to give advice/share wisdom with 20/20 hindsight – but then why did it bring tears to my eyes?! I realized the reason was that my thoughts about the future were pessimistic (which is not my usual personality default) and I didn’t know what to tell my future self beyond “Savor the butterflies now.” ;/ Not a useful way to move forward action-wise. And that I could do better for myself and values than that. Where I am currently is to say to my 2030 year self that the future is still wide open (props to Tom Petty) and to stay sturdy; my work here is not done.”
“I think the biggest thing I learned from this exercise is that you have no idea what the future could bring. Ten years ago, I was single, had not met my husband and could not have dreamt of what my future life could hold. I also noticed today – 10 yrs. later – that I omit my career and myself in much of this plan. I am in a supporting role and put my needs after those of others. However, this process reinforces a few things that I need to make a priority – working out, reconnecting with friends. I also realized how much I am driven [now] by personal vs. professional goals. It also makes me fear a bit for the next 10 years since things have been so good, similar to that of a recession after good economic times.”
“I cried on page 4. These questions were POWERFUL. When you compare 10 years the things that need to be fixed are in such plain sight. I focused on what was still not going well but, I also need to celebrate that I have doubled my income in 10 years.”
Deep and abiding thanks to the brave and kind folks who took the time to test drive the 10-Year Tool. Which is now up and ready for you!
Go to www.michelewoodward.com/resources to access both the new 10-Year Tool and its big sister, the 2020 Personal Planning Tool. These two worksheets are designed to complement one another – and also designed to be the sort of thing you take your time with. To think. To reflect. To grow your understanding.
This ain’t no Cosmo quiz, friends.
And, as always, the resources on my page are available to you at no charge.
After you use the 10-Year Tool or the 2020 Personal Planning Tool, drop me a note and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear about the things you learn!