Several times over the last couple of years, different pieces of my life plan have been documented; seven priorities, three life goals and five core values to name a few. A milestone birthday and the looming end to the year felt like triggers for a thorough review of these various bits and pieces, the objective being to meld these somewhat disparate attempts at building a roadmap for my life into a coherent whole.
Life does not occur in vacuo, but is lived in the context of community, with different elements (individuals, groups and/or organisations) interacting together. Sociologists capture these interactions – actions and qualities – as ‘roles‘. If life consists of these interactions, it is not a huge stretch to then suggest that success in life consists of excelling in the various roles an individual has to fill; little daily, weekly, monthly and yearly successes adding up into a life well lived.
One’s roles are necessarily multiplied, which is why for simplification I have grouped mine into what I call Interaction Clusters; broadly similar groups of people I interact with which are defined by the perceived depth of relationship and the population size.
- Personal: High proximity, Small Sphere of Influence (~1 to 20) – mainly family and close friends
- Professional: Medium proximity, Medium sphere of influence (~20 to 1000) – mainly work colleagues and fellow members of professional associations
- Public: Low proximity, Large sphere of influence (>1000) – mainly the wider society, church and remote acquaintances.
In his pamphlet, Creating Your Personal Life Plan, Michael Hyatt describes a process that goes from determining what the key outcomes (looked on from the perspective of life’s end) through determining what relationships (or accounts) are priorities and then defining actions to support these.
For my Personal interaction cluster, I consider success as being the best husband, father, brother, son and friend that I can be:
A husband (of one wife) and father (twin boys and a daughter if the universe is listening) whom I provide for, protect, lead, love and model life for/with. In my role as a son to my parents, I respect, honour and provide for them as well as constructively engage and communicate with them, keeping them in the loop as I plan and do life. As a brother to my siblings, I provide leadership and stability, contributing to family life and ensuring we exist as a close-knit community of upwardly mobile siblings, each successful in our own right both professionally and in personal life. As a friend, I participate in mutually beneficial, sharpening relationships with my close friends, cherishing their time and companionship and prioritising them over the wider connections I may have.
Undergirding all of this is a commitment to living and eating healthily to minimise the burden of care my latter life will place on these people.
For my Professional interaction cluster, I see success as excelling in my chosen (Corrosion, Materials and Inspection) discipline:
Being the peer of colleague who delivers work of the highest standard, both as part of a team and when required to deliver as an Individual Technical Specialist. When working with others, as a boss (or team leader), in addition to leading by example in delivering work of an extremely high quality, I treat everyone else with respect and value, taking time out to know them as individuals and ensuring the right atmosphere for them to flourish is created. Within the context of work I provide mentorship to other less competent members of the team, and seek and receive mentorship for myself as required. As a Technical Specialist, I am dedicated to keeping myself on the cutting edge of knowledge in my (Corrosion, Materials and Inspection) discipline and delivering simple, practical, cost-effective solutions to complex problems
In the Public space, success for me is living in and contributing to life in a great church and a great city:
Becoming a global citizen to access to multiple locations and geographies around the world. As such a one, I will have settled long term into life in a great city. There, I live a life that is above board, in keeping with the laws of the land and the socio-political context in so far as it doesn’t go against my Judeo-Christian worldview. In the wider community, as a Responsible Social Citizen I contribute to life, supporting worthy causes, engaging the less privileged as appropriate and contributing to a vibrant conversation in the social sphere by voting and engaging with the wider social issues in my community. Beyond that, as a committed member of a local church, I contribute to life within that context and serve in some capacity. The overarching desire is to leave something of value in the lives of all I am acquainted with.
Focus Areas and Actions
Analogous to the priorities Hyatt defines in his model, I consider seven focus areas which taken together provide a framework for defining actions which support the goals defined above. These are:
- Spiritual: Covering my relationships with God, Faith and Worldview as well as spiritual practice.
- Physical & Health: Covering my health, diet and physical condition
- People & Socials: Covering my relationships with friends, current and future family and other close acquaintances
- Financial: Covering earnings, savings, investments and plans for retiring early.
- Work and Career: Concerned with what I do and how I progress in the current work space and how I plan for the near to medium term from a development perspective.
- Mental & Personal Development: Covers the elements of continuous learning, improving, developing non-work related skills and abilities as well as efforts to keep my mind sharp
- Causes and Charities: Covering what I do to give back to my communities – professional and social as well as more remote locations
The plan – if I can call it that – is to conduct an annual review between Christmas and the New Year and define what the key activities required to close any gaps identified are.
Fingers crossed. Hopefully this doesn’t go the way of all my grand plans.