Macro and micro planning is the way to ensure that you reach your goals and keep your resolutions.
The beginning of the year is a time when we make resolutions and plans and set goals. Setting goals for the year is a very good practice. Everybody benefits from macro planning (5 – 10 year goals, visions for the future, career planning) as well as micro planning (daily, weekly and monthly goal-setting).
Macro planning, or the setting of objectives, is important in helping us to ensure that we achieve what is important to us, rather than allowing life to take on a life of its own.
My favourite planning tool is called the Wheel of Life. Often people struggle to know where to start in setting goals. The Wheel of Life is a quick and easy way to get clear about your current levels of satisfaction in various areas of your life. From there, it is relatively easy to identify what you need to do to improve what you are not satisfied with, and enhance what you are.
This exercise will help you to identify the areas of least and most satisfaction in your life right now.
Step 1: Draw a circle and divide it into eight even sections so that it looks like half of an orange or the wheel of a bicycle. The ‘spokes’ of this wheel represent the eight main areas of your life:
- Personal growth and development (professional and personal)
- Health (including exercise, sleep, diet)
- Work and career
- Family and friends
- Intimate relationship
- Physical environment (the space you occupy)
- Financial stability
- Me time (alone time, meditating, journaling, praying, etc)
If you can think of any that you would prefer to have (for instance ‘community’ or ‘studies’), replace one of these sections or add the new ones.
Step 2: Seeing the centre of the wheel as 0 and the outer rim as 10, rank your current level of satisfaction in each area of work by marking the appropriate place on the ‘spoke’ of the wheel. If you currently feel a 3/10 satisfaction level with your physical environment, you will put a dot a third of the way up that line on the wheel. Once you have rated each area, join all the dots.
Often the highest-ranking areas make up for the lowest ranking ones. For example you may be unsatisfied with your salary, but your love of your work compensates for that. Similarly, there is often a correlation between our health and our physical environment. High satisfaction levels are important (we all want to be satisfied and happy in our lives) but more important is to have a wheel of life that is round and balanced. A wheel with scores of all fours and fives represents a more balanced life than a wheel with 2 nines and 4 ones. Imagine a wheel with one two long spokes and the rest short – it wouldn’t make for a very smooth ride!
Step 3: Now you are able to make some plans based on real information about your own life. Look at the spider web of dots and lines that you have created and think about the following questions:
- How smooth is my journey through life right now?
- Where and how can I improve my satisfaction levels, and make my wheel of life rounder?
- What are the areas that have the lowest ranking?
- What can I put down in order to improve my ratings?
- What actions can I take to improve my ride?
Step 4: You can’t tackle everything at once. Identify at least three goals to improve your satisfaction levels in the lower ranking areas, and maintain and enhance your satisfaction levels in the higher ranking areas.
With your macro planning in place, you can turn to micro planning. Micro planning is your short-term day-to-day goal setting. It is very important for those of us who have a tendency to others-centredness and to saying yes when we mean no as we tend to be very reactive rather than proactive and our own plans can be easily derailed by the various demands that come our way.
It is easier to say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things when you have a clear plan. You can respond to demands by saying "I can't manage it," or "I can do it but only next week.”
Micro planning makes us more likely to achieve our Macro plans, because having a goal is only the start. We need to work out what steps we need to take if we are to reach that goal. Once you have your big picture macro goals in place, you can set realistic goals for your year, your month, your week and your days.
Imagine one of your goals is to publish a book. Your year plan should allocate a milestone to be reached each month or two (eg. First draft of 3 chapters by June). Your monthly and weekly goals should indicate the smaller milestones to be reached on the way (eg. Devise structure). And your daily plans are more specific (eg. Write 500 words a day).
Your daily plan will also include your day-to-day life management tasks, and might look something like this:
- Edit yesterday’s work
- 1 hour of reading and research
- Write 1000 words
- Pay the phone bill
- Water the garden
- Manage supper
I love my daily to-do list not only because I know it is keeping me on track to reach my longer term goals, but also because it gives me the authority to say no when I am asked to do something that I don’t want to do and that would take up a lot of time and energy and derail me from meeting my own objectives.
If you plan with a view to your medium to long term future, you will be able to make decisions based on whether whatever it is you are thinking about doing (or not doing) will take you closer towards or further away from where you want to be in five years time. And your micro plans will ensure that you are keeping yourself on track to get there – every day!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 1Life or its employees.