Are You Missing Your Calling?

Maybe it is the material I am choosing to read. It could be the kind of people I am around these days. Whatever the case, I am hearing more and more about life plans and finding a “calling” from God. I wonder if there might be a serious problem in these discussions that too many people are missing?


Life Plans Are Good

First of all, I do not want anyone to think I believe life plans are bad! I have one myself that I tweak and clarify every year. I have written a great deal about being intentional in living out or lives for eternal impact. A solid life plan can be a great tool in this process.

Does Imminent Bankruptcy Change Your Investment Plan?

Imagine for a minute that you know me as a 100% reliable and trustworthy source. Imagine also that I have just told you that I have undeniable evidence that the U.S. Government is going to file bankruptcy in Federal Court next Monday morning. What would be your reaction?


Ripple Effects of Bankruptcy?

I am not a guru when it comes to these types of issues, but I am fairly sure I could make some educated guesses about some of the ripple effects of an event like this. I assume you could do the same. In light of that, how does your current investment portfolio look? What would be your new financial plan?

Would you buy more shares of stock or sell what you have? Would you invest in the U.S. Dollar or move toward gold and silver? Would you make plans to spend as much as you could before the date of the event or would you try to invest in those areas (food, barter materials, etc.) that would contribute to your long term survival and well being?

Would any of these actions change if I told you the date of the bankruptcy filing was actually 6 months from now versus next week? What about one year from now or longer? How would your urgency change?

Truth Is Worse!

Obviously, I do NOT have advance notice of a bankruptcy filing like this. Unfortunately, the knowledge I have is far worse than this. In fact, I am fairly confident that you have this same knowledge that I have.

Folks, the truth is that this entire world that we inhabit is bankrupt. The filing has already been made and we are simply living out the discharge process. What is the only major difference in this news and my fictional bankruptcy filing?


We read in 2 Peter 3 that this world is already scheduled to be destroyed. Everything in it will be destroyed and our works laid bare. Bankruptcy has been filed, but the discharge process is taking time. Peter tells us here that the Lord is patient, but the events are coming nonetheless.

Lost Value

Let me translate to be clear. Everything you “own” right now will be destroyed. It will have a value of $0. Any investments you have in land, buildings, stocks, etc. will be brought to a total value of zero. This is a total and complete bankruptcy with full liquidation of assets.

So…what is your plan? How does your current portfolio look? Do you feel good about its diversity? Are you wisely invested in those areas that will last after this bankruptcy?

Vague Timing?

Back to the issue of timing. In my fictional bankruptcy, I gave you a hard date, a timeline that you could see and one that would allow you to make necessary adjustments. The world bankruptcy explained by the Bible does not do this. No one knows when the final discharge will happen.

And that, my friends, is why many of us are asleep at the wheel. We think we have time. We are living with the illusion that we can deal with these eternal investment issues at some point in the future. Unfortunately, we simply do not know. Therefore, many sleep.

Portfolio Shift?

I am sorry, but I just don’t think that is what we are supposed to be doing. As for me, I am certain that I have entirely too much left invested in this world and not nearly enough laid up in heaven. I am working on that, but I have a long way to go.

What about you? What if this “world bankruptcy” were to be discharged today…how would your portfolio fare? If you are like me, that is a scary proposition. While I know without a doubt that my soul would survive the fire, I am concerned that I have too much stuff that would not.

Future Investment

I have told you before that my job description, and life’s goal, is to add silhouettes. To the extent that I can accomplish this goal, my investment in this effort will survive the fire. My struggle is to invest more and more time, energy, and resources into this effort and less into the material rewards of this world.

I must continue working to shift my portfolio away from the temporal and toward the eternal. I am convinced that we are called to live IN this world. I am just as convinced that we are not to make it our home. We should be renters here, not owners.

I encourage you to take some time and think through this idea of world bankruptcy. Think about where you are currently investing your time, treasure, and talents. Consider Paul’s warning (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) to us and begin doing work that will survive the fire. I think this would be a great investment for you!

What does your portfolio look like today?

What action do you need to take to correct it?

What is your level of urgency? What should it be?

Lead For God’s Sake – Book Giveaway!!!

[title color=”orange-vibrant” align=”scmgccenter” font=”georgia” style=”normal” size=”scmgc-7em”]Free Book Give Away!!![/title]

Lead...for God's sake

Another Free Book Give Away?

You read that right! I am offering a free copy of Todd Gongwer’s book, LEAD…For God’s Sake!: A Parable for Finding the Heart of Leadership!

How Do You Win?

If you scroll down just a bit you will see the Rafflecopter entry form which outlines a bunch of ways to enter the LEAD…For God’s Sake! giveaway. Just complete as many as you would like to be entered to win!

Why Am I Doing This?

I started this blog in an effort to spread the message of integrating the Christian faith into our businesses. I want to see more Christian business owners and leaders begin looking at their businesses from an eternal perspective and running them as platforms for Christian ministry.

While I know my posts are written toward this effort, I thought I would try to step it up a notch for 2013. My plan is to give away one book a month for the entire year! All I am asking from you is to follow the Rafflecopter instructions below. As you enter, you will be helping me to spread the word about this blog at the same time. We both win!

This Month’s Book: Todd Gongwer’s Lead…For God’s Sake!

…an engaging and compelling narrative. As a business leader I found its takeaways right on target. I wasn’t able to put it down. It’s that good!
–John Beckett, Chairman, the Beckett Companies, Author, Loving Mondays

This is a book I could not put down until I finished it. Every parent, coach, manager, and leader should read it. I wish I had read it 30 years ago. –Lou Holtz, Former Notre Dame Head Football Coach

I wish LEAD…For God’s Sake! had been available to my classes and seminars for business and practitioners over the last twenty five years. It is that good…an engaging story you won t want to put down. –Dr. John E. Mulford, Former Dean of the School of Business; Director Center for Entrepreneurship, Regent University

Enter The Give Away

Follow the instructions below to enter the Lead…For God’s Sake! contest and then spread the word to others! The contest ends at midnight on Saturday, August 31st and the winner will be announced on Sunday, September 1st.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Living In The Details: My Daily Plan

In her second guest post in this two-part series, Kari Scare digs into the details about the daily plan that is part of her overall life plan. Her method is simple and straight forward, making it very useable for anyone! It brings some structure, but retains flexibility for those days we all need it! I highly recommend you take a look at her overall “Big Picture” in her last post as well as consider the details of her daily plan as she describes it today. You will probably want to read more from Kari at her blog – Struggle to Victory.

daily plan

My Daily Plan

As detailed in The Big Picture, my husband and I created a life plan together many years ago. We do our best to teach our boys the elements of that life plan in the way we operate as a family and as individuals.

Each member of my family lives out the life plan in very different ways, that is to say we have unique daily game plans. Though how we each live in the details is unique to the individual, we still work as a unit to make sure our family stays on track with its priorities.

Today’s post details the carrying out of the Big Picture “daily plan” from my perspective.

Creating a Daily Plan

Each morning, I make time to allow the following process to happen. During the week, this process can last an hour or two. When the family is home, the process sometimes need shortened or at least metered out differently.

    1. Hear the timeline the Holy Spirit has for my day. Because I tend to over-control, I must give my day over right away to the Spirit’s control. I do this through time in prayer and God’s Word.
    2. Make a list of the day’s goals. Sometimes this involves repurposing part of my last “to do” list, and sometimes a new one gets created. This list comes into existence during step 1, usually one piece at a time.
    3. Seek confirmation of the game plan. Did I mention that I tend to over control? Because this truly is a chronic struggle for me, I spend time reading Christian blog posts and short devotions after my list is created. No set number, just enough until I feel a peace in my spirit about the day’s plan.

This approach attempts to pre-empt my tendency to over-control and script my day too much. In my head, I call it forcing things. I used to live a life where I forced every aspect, partly because I lacked patience and partly because I thrived on control. This scripting or forcing always led to immense frustration.

Integrating Structure

The above process works well for creating my daily plan. But alone, it’s not quite enough structure. I like flexibility, but I also realize that my moods and feelings can easily distract me. For this reason, I use the following tools to help keep me focused and structured enough to stay productive.

    · Lists
    Some are paper & some electronic. My weekly project list and daily “to do” list (sometimes these are one and sometimes separate), are written out on paper. Then, I use Evernote and Alarm Stiky Note on my tablet for other lists such as books to read and shopping lists.
    · Calendars
    I have an electronic calendar for appointments and a paper calendar for my writing. The electronic calendar goes with me pretty much everywhere, but the blog calendar stays with my writing material. I check my electronic calendar daily and the writing calendar when necessary to direct my writing priorities.
    · Journal
    This is where I keep prayer requests, where I express my emotion, where I address problems and struggles, and where I consider goals and focus areas.

    · Devotions
    Devotions allow God to direct my thoughts, feelings, goals, etc. Sometimes I use a book of devotions, and sometimes I use devotions from other blogs. Sometimes I read just one, sometimes several. God uses devotions written by godly people to confirm His Spirit’s direction.
    · Bible study
    The Holy Spirit always has a specific focus for me to study that goes deeper than daily devotions.

    · Scripture memorization
    This is the area with which I struggle the most. I continually have scripture I want to memorize and am working on a solid system that I can stick with.

    · Idea book
    While I am very picky about the book I use for this, I am not so picky about what I write inside. Sometimes I write brief thoughts, quotes and notes. Sometimes, I write outlines for posts or studies. And often, I write an entire post out before typing it. This is the book I take with me when writing at the coffee shop or sitting outside on the deck. When I want to decide blog post topics, I go through this book.

Each of these items is an essential tool in my daily plan. They are adaptable to my needs and moods, yet they also provide a structure that helps me stay focused. This system helps me release control and rely more on the Spirit’s leading as I live out the details of The Big Picture.

Do you see how you could manage a similar daily plan?

Which of these tools should you immediately add to your daily plan?

Do you see enough flexibility in this daily plan process?

The Big Picture: My Own Life Plan Method

Have you read about the life plan and goal setting methods others use? Do they frustrate you because you think differently or cannot seem to keep up with some of the details they build into their process? If so, you may just love this (and the next) guest post from my friend in the blogging world, Kari Scare. If you like this one, check out more of her work at Struggle To Victory!

life plan

The Best Goal-Setting & Time Management Method in Existence!

Guilt. Frustration. Embarrassment. Inadequacy.

This is how I used to feel when I failed to set goals the “right” way. When I heard about a person’s completed life plan or even a personal mission statement, I felt defeated because I just couldn’t manage to create my own.

Unconventional Life Plan

I have felt like a failure over and over again because I didn’t set SMART goals and because I didn’t do a SWAT analysis or put a daily game plan together in just the right way. I have felt ineffective because I don’t use an app to do just about everything for me, including helping me break negative habits and establish new ones.

Then this thought struck me. If I struggle so much with feeling this way, why am I still so productive? Why do I have so many solid habits that keep me healthy physically, spiritually and mentally? I then finally realized that while my methods might not fit into the mainstream mold of goal setting and habit management, what I do still works very well. This led me to my next question.

Best Life Plan Method?

So, what really is the best goal-setting method? What really works for creating new and breaking old habits? The answer to these questions transformed my life. Ready? Here it is: Whatever works for you!

No two people will use exactly the same life plan method, nor should they. We may take bits and pieces from other methods, but what works best for a person will be unique to that person. We all have different blends of personality style, temperament and learning style, so why wouldn’t our styles for managing time, goals and habits be different too?

As a result of these realizations, I now value my personal life plan method for setting and reaching goals and for making new and breaking old habits. My method revolves around the creation of a Big Picture, a life focus if you will, that sets priorities. It also includes two other essential elements, accountability and regular touch points.

The Big Picture

Each of the elements in creating my life plan holds a lot of details within themselves. The priorities and basic philosophy don’t change, but how accountability plays out and touch points are maintained do change as one season of life fades into another.

1. Set priorities.

My life plan involves three focus areas, God first, family second and work third. My husband and I decided these priorities years ago, and both of our lives are organized around them. The choices we make, such as how to fill our calendars, our financial planning, etc., revolve around these focus areas.

2. Establish accountability.

The primary reason my husband and I combined our life plan into one is to live as fully as possible in the truth that two become one at marriage (Mark 10:8).

Another very important reason we did this was for accountability. While we must make decisions separately at times, we know they must fit within our priorities. We constantly check with each other to make sure we stay within our priorities as well as avoid over-commitment. The idea being that we want excellence in fewer things rather than mediocrity in many.

3. Create touch points.

Touching base on our priorities, which basically means keeping each other accountable, is part of our life’s routine. We coordinate our calendars regularly and discuss commitments prior to making them whenever possible. We have daily downloads every day when possible, even if they need to happen electronically.

We also make a point to talk in more depth on our priorities at least quarterly. We try to do this away from home, say at a coffee shop or on a dinner date. We also go away as a family twice a year for connection that includes delving into goals and priorities.

Solid Guide, Different Parts

The process for creating and maintaining The Big Picture has been solid guide for career and parenting choices as well as served to strengthen our marriage too.

This Big Picture provides the framework for our lives, but we each carry out the unique parts we play in very different ways. In other words, we live in the details in different ways.

Coming Soon

In the next post, Living In the Details, I will detail my personal approach to carrying out a daily plan, and approach that fits my personality and temperament. While no two people live life exactly the same way, we certainly can gain insight, inspiration and ideas from one another. That is my prayer in sharing my personal plan with you.

What do you think about this approach to a life plan?

Which part can you take and apply immediately?

What benefits do you see in using this plan?

3 Keys To Creating New Habits

In my last two posts, I went into detail about a daily game plan that I am working on in an effort to avoid spiritual drift and remain focused on my life plan. While I am certainly seeing some results that are promising, it is also a struggle for me. In comment on the last post, fellow blogger Kari Scare mentioned this same struggle in creating a new habit.

new habit

Here are her comments:

I would love to consistently use something like this. But, something inside of me…keeps it from becoming a habit. In fact, I did use something similar to this for a while but ended up going back to my list method…I still wonder at my inability to stick with that.

I’m a driven person, very productive. I stick to the focus areas that my husband and I set. Yet, I realize how something like this would amplify my life. SO, maybe you could address some of what I struggle with in another post.

New Habit Struggle?

Do you experience this kind of struggle in creating a new habit? Do you get frustrated at your inability to remain consistent with a new habit even when you know it will improve your life?

If you struggle like this, you are not alone. Just visit a fitness club or gym during the first week in January and again in mid-March. There is a huge difference in how busy it is, right? The fallout is huge!

Magic Formula?

So what we really want to know is how to overcome this struggle in creating new habits. What is the magic formula for beating this part of us that resists new habits (at least the good ones!) and keeps us from improving?

Well, to start off, there is not a magic formula. I will not even try to convince you that I have the silver bullet for this problem.

New Habits Not Impossible

What I will tell you is that it is not an impossible feat to create new habits. People that are faced with decisions between exercising and facing life-threatening medical issues have proven this to be true over and over. Others have done it without the threat to life. So how do they do it?

As I said, I do not have a silver bullet, but I do have some simple insights. Take a look at the following three keys and see if they make sense to you. While this is not a guaranteed formula, I am convinced that if all three keys are present, your odds of successfully creating a new habit will increase exponentially!

#1 – It MUST Be A Priority To You

While this may sound overly simplistic, it is true. Either it IS or it IS NOT a priority for you. If you are absolutely confident that any given tool or habit will make your days better and your life more effective, then you just have to decide if that is what you want.

It cannot be a suggestion someone else is making for you. It cannot be something that would be “cool” if you did it. Nor can it be something you are guilted into doing.

You have to want it more than whatever else is currently occupying the time it takes to do it (e.g. exercise vs. 30 minutes more sleep). You have to want it more than it will cost you in time, money, effort, etc. If you want it badly enough, then you will make it work.

#2 – Enlist Accountability

Look back at Kari’s comments. What is the one thing she mentioned that she is able to stick to? Exactly, it is the focus areas that she commits to with her husband! I do not believe that is a coincidence.

Is this the only way? No. Can we develop a new habit without accountability? Sure. I did not say this is the only way. It will just increase your odds exponentially. So if that is the case, why not enlist accountability.

This step is not really that tough. The accountability partner does not necessarily have to be creating the same new habit as you are (though it would certainly be helpful if they did). You just need to have a relationship with them that would cause you to avoid having to admit failure to them.

Just explain to them what you are trying to do and how you need them to help you with it. Then set up regular intervals for follow-up conversations. Give them a list of several key questions you want them to ask you. You could even make it fun (and increase the pressure) by committing to buy their lunch (or a coffee) every time you fall short of the new habit!

#3 – Embrace Grace!

Sure, it needs to be a habit. Sure it is better if we do it EVERY day without fail. At the same time, even this habit will eventually become stale and you will risk becoming legalistic about it. Instead of feeling like a failure when we miss a day or only half-way complete it, we should just give ourselves the grace that God gives us.

Move on. Start again tomorrow. The world will not end. Your life will not suddenly become ineffective and worthless. Don’t buy into the lie that one miss means the whole effort is over!

Of course, if the missed days begin to equal or outnumber the days you complete the task, then you need to refer back to #1. IS it or is it NOT something you need to be doing?


I hope this discussion helps you as you approach a new habit. My prayer is that we all continue to look for ways we can weave new habits into our lives that will continue to help conform us to the likeness of Christ. At the same time, we cannot see ourselves as failures when we fall short. We just need to get up and try again.

Have you attempted new habits with all three of these keys in place?

What were your results?

What is your biggest struggle in attempting to create new habits?

The Daily Game Plan: A Must Use Tool!

If you have ever worked on a life plan for your life, then you know the process can be somewhat overwhelming. You likely know that maintaining that life plan can become a burden at times, depending on how you have it set up. In light of that, I have come up with a tool I am calling a daily game plan that may just be the help you are looking for!

game plan

Daily Game Plan

In my last post, I described how I progressed from modifying and tweaking my life plan to creating a more simple tool called a daily game plan. Birthed out of an idea I got from reading Seven Days in Utopia, this daily game plan is an effort to apply life plan strategy to our daily lives. Take a look at my last post for more on the thought process behind this tool.

As I promised in the last post, I want to take you through the current version of my daily game plan tool. I will go over each area and explain how I use it. I will also give you the option to download a pdf of it. As I go through this process, be thinking about how you would improve this tool. I am going to ask you for your feedback at the end.

How To Proceed

The best way for you to go through the rest of this post is to [CLICK HERE] for a marked-up, full-screen view of a completed daily game plan. Because each section is labeled to make it easier to follow along, you will likely want to keep this open in the separate tab and flip back and forth between them. If you would prefer, you can also just print a copy. Either way, it will be helpful to have it visible as you progress through my description below.

Section #1 – Key Questions

This first section is fairly simple. As you can see, I put the day and date in the box at the top and then I read through the questions. These questions are some that I pulled together and may change from time to time. You could add your own here.

Sometimes I actually write a one or two word answer to some of the questions. Sometimes I just think about them and leave them blank. The point is to read and contemplate these questions every day. I want these thoughts becoming part of my mindset throughout the day.

Section #2 – Calendar

The next section is a condensed calendar picture of my day – only the highlights. I do not put more than three or four items on this calendar. The purpose of this section is two-fold.

First, I want to think through my day and how it will flow. When I have to write it like this and only have room for the select few events, I have to visualize how they will fit together. The second reason is to remind me of those bigger appointments when I glance over the game plan during the day.

Section #3 – Key Focuses

In this third area of my daily game plan, I write the most important task or project for me to accomplish that day. Sometimes there are a total of three or four of these items when I combine the three categories – Work, Home, Other. More often, there are only one or two items listed here.

While my to-do list is always much larger than this, completing this section of the game plan forces me to determine and prioritize my most critical tasks. This is a great exercise, especially when many days my to-do’s overwhelm me. I find that it is seldom that I do not accomplish all that is listed here.

Section #4 – Outreach & Prayer

In this part of the game plan, I stop to think about the people I am likely to work with that day. Is there anyone in particular, employee or otherwise, that I need to reach out to in a special way? If someone comes to mind with clarity, then I write their name in the space and pray for the opportunity to impact them. If not, I leave it blank.

After that, I write in those areas about which I know I need to pray. This may be something related to my marriage or my children. It could be a pending decision at work or even a habit I am trying to break. Nothing is off limits here (except a confidential request from someone else!).

Section #5 – Potential Problems

This is one area where I have seen the most impact on my days since I have been using this daily game plan. Here, on the left side, I ask the question, “What could go wrong today?” I then write down any potential surprises or obstacles that I think may pop up during the day to come.

I imagine what it might look like if a conversation I plan to have that day ends up going bad. It could be that I might receive bad news in a pending project I am working on. It could even be a temptation that I am not prepared to handle.

Once I determine a couple of likely problems, I ask myself, “How will I (later) wish I had handled it?” This is a powerful question because it forces me to think about how I would script the situation after it goes bad. It is accountability in advance! You would be amazed at how much easier it is to handle a crises when you have already visualized it and scripted your response!

For a detailed description of the meaning of the five terms (Observation, Strategy, See, Feel, Trust), you need to read the book, Seven Days in Utopia!

Section #6 – Scripture Memory

This final section of the daily game plan is the simplest, but also carries power. In the top section, I write the Bible verse that I am attempting to memorize for that week. In the bottom section, I write the verse I memorized from last week.

This rotates each week so I am writing each verse once a day for two weeks. I also glance at the reference during the day and attempt to repeat both of the verses aloud without looking. This may only happen once or twice during the day, but any repetition helps!


As I said before, I tried this on a half of a sheet of paper at first (8.5″ x 11″ folded), but I am now loading it onto my iPad in an app called Notes Plus. It is fully contained on the screen and I am able to easily access it throughout the day. This seems to work best for me as I am carrying my iPad everywhere I go now.

Like I said before, this is a work in progress. There may be parts of this idea that excite you and other parts that leave you saying, “Huh?” That is fine! I don’t expect you to accept it all as/is and start using it that way. My main purpose in sharing is to start the conversation – both in your mind as well as between all of us.

Take some time and think it over. Ask me questions or give me some suggestions. The only advice I will give is to be determined to keep it as simple as possible! Do not give in to the temptation to add two or three (or more) incremental improvements that end up making it too cumbersome to use.

For a blank copy of this game plan, [CLICK HERE].

What are your thoughts about the game plan?

Does it generate any ideas for you?

What additions/deletions would you suggest?

A Life Plan Tool, Simplified?

In business, whether you are a Christian or not, it is important to regularly analyze your assets and make sure you are allocating them in the most effective manner. To do otherwise is fiscally irresponsible and even punishable in certain situations. Should our lives be any different? This is where a life plan helps!

life plan

Life Planning

Life planning is not necessarily a common occurrence among Christian leaders today, but it is gaining recognition and momentum. Effectively, it is a process of creating an overall strategy for our lives. The idea is to focus all of your resources and various roles (disciple of Jesus, husband/wife, parent, owner/employee, friend, etc.) so that they are in alignment with God’s will for your individual life.

In this blog, I have completed a series of posts that take you step by step through the process I use for my life plan. I also included the tools I use in that process. I have told you that I am not even close to having this whole process figured out! To this day, after several years of working on my life plan, I still struggle with consistency and focus at times.

Looking For Improvements

For that reason, I am always on the lookout for another tool, or modification to my current tools, that could help me do a better job of executing this life plan. Wherever I see an article about life plans I clip it to Evernote. If I get a chance to download someone else’s diagram of a dashboard, I do it.

Though I still do not have it perfected by any means, I have made some modifications over the years that have helped. Most of these changes have come in the way of simplifying the process.

A New Idea!

Roughly a month ago, I read a book that gave me an idea I thought could be a big help to me. The book was called Seven Days in Utopia, by David Cook. If you have not read the book, then I strongly urge you to do so. The movie is also good, but the book is more helpful in teaching us about life due to the greater detail.

In that book, the main character (a professional golfer) was advised that he needed his own game plan every time he approached a tournament. He was told that his ability to stick to his game plan would determine his success. If he were easily thrown off his plan by opponents or circumstances, then he would suffer for it.

Daily Game Plan

As I read, I realized I could use a similar process in my daily life. If I could come up with a daily “game plan” based on my life plan, then I may be more consistent in my execution. The more I thought about it the more I liked the idea.

As I thought about what I wanted this daily game plan to look like, I first determined that I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. That meant it would not be able to include every aspect of my life plan or even the dashboard I use to simplify that. It would have to leave out some things if I planned to use it every day.

I also decided I wanted to be able to carry it with me throughout the day. I did not want something that would be too difficult to refer to often with a quick glance. Since I move around a lot during the day – from office to office and building to building – this was going to be an important factor to get right.

Finally, I wanted it to be something I could complete every morning in my quiet time. It needed to be customizable based on what any particular day could hold. I wanted it to only contain information I need for that one day.

Not Yet Perfected!

I will close by saying that I have not completely figured it out yet. I have spent the past month trying various layouts of this game plan. I have tried it on paper and electronically. I have skipped parts on some days and other parts on other days.

I am pleased to report that the results so far are good! I am seeing improvement in the effectiveness of my days. While I am not seeing an overnight tripling of my productivity, I am seeing some very clear benefits. I have seen enough improvement so far to keep me working on the idea.

Details To Come!

In my next post, I am going to show you my daily game plan as it stands today. I will take you through each part of it step-by-step and explain the reasoning behind each. I hope you will find some benefit to the process.

I will go ahead and ask you to take a look and give me feedback. I am interested in your ideas and critiques. If you see something I have missed, please call me out on it! I see this as an opportunity to vet this tool and improve it.


I would love to hear from you on what I have shared so far. Do you see this as a worthy process or do you think I am a nut case for even trying?!? Either way, please give me your comments below and lets see where everyone stands on this!

Do you have a life plan that is helping you to be intentional?

Do you see the need for a daily game plan to work from?

What do you use to accomplish this?

Life Plan Process: Overview

life plan

This is the final post in a series on LIFE planning. In this series, I am sharing with you the basics of a LIFE plan and why you need one by going through the details of my own LIFE planning process. Neither my plan nor my process are perfect. In fact, they are evolving from year to year. My hope is that you can take what I do (or even just parts of it) and use it to create your own plan.

Life Plan Variety

Life plans can take on all sorts of shapes and sizes. They can be fully contained on one page or they can consist of several documents. It really is not important how long or short, thick or thin these plans become.

The most important aspect of the life plan is whether it does its job. If it helps to guide you through life, assists you in maximizing your resources for the greatest impact, and keeps your focus on what you have decided is most important to you, then it has done its job.

I have described to you the components of my own LIFE Plan. You may not want to take this process and copy it for yourself. Some of you may think I go too far in planning. Others may think I do not do enough. Regardless, I hope you find the components of my process useful in helping you to create your own.

Now I want to go into more detail about how I actually develop, revise, and use this LIFE Plan in my life.

Off-Site Session

The first step in my process is the off-site session. I first started doing this session in mid December each year, but have since moved it back into November. Just like year-end budgeting or forecasting, you want to make sure you have plenty of time to fully develop the plans before the new year begins.

Much like my brainstorming session, I like to get away from any and all distractions for this session. Whether it is a hotel room, a cabin in the woods, or a private room in the local college library, I have always been intentional about getting away. I schedule a full day and make sure people know where I am and that I will not be answering the phone.


The first part of my LIFE planning process is prayer. This is key to putting my mind in the right perspective and getting God’s wisdom. I do not want to make all these plans and then ask God to bless them and make them His will. I want His will to establish my plans.

Review of Prior Year

I begin my session by reviewing the prior year. The first document I use is the Yearly Audit [CLICK HERE for copy] from the C12 Group. This is a thorough, but also concise, review of the key components in the life of a Christian business owner or leader. It refreshes my memory and helps me to assess my performance during the prior year. I strongly recommend you use this.

The next document I review is my master LIFE Plan Document from that prior year. In this document, I have expanded on all of my thoughts, goals, and plans for the year. I review this document to determine what items were accomplished and may need to be deleted as well as to choose those items to be carried over into the next year.

Finally, I review my LIFE Plan Dashboard from that prior year. Which of my goals did I hit, exceed, or miss completely? I look for patterns of positive habits established or those I struggled even to start.

Prayer & Brainstorm

Once I have a decent feel for how I performed against my plan for that year, I begin praying and brainstorming about what needs to change and what needs to stay the same for the upcoming year. I ask God to direct my thoughts to those areas where He wants change in me.

I take notes on anything and everything that comes to mind. I really enjoy this time because nothing is off limits. I do my best to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to my heart and guide me. I do not want to come into this time with any preconceived ideas.

Prioritize and Review

From here, I prioritize what came out of the brainstorm session along with the plan from the prior year. I make the necessary revisions to the master LIFE Plan Document and save this draft.

I will likely make minor revisions and tweaks to this document over the next few weeks as I set goals for each area. As I do this, I also add the applicable goals to my LIFE Plan Dashboard and calendars. My goal is to have a set of completed documents by the end of December so I can start January with a clean slate!

Weekly Review

I have mentioned David Allen’s Getting Things Done in past posts. One of the best things I learned from Allen was the weekly review. Without this part of the process, it is easy to find yourself two, three, or four months down the road without having accomplished the first item on your life plan.

Essentially, the weekly review is a time I close my office door and plan out the next week. I review the prior week’s accomplishments, my known To Do’s for the upcoming week, my calendar, and my LIFE Plan Dashboard. I prioritize what needs to get done and lay out a rough idea of when I can work on each item.

I take this time every Saturday and would be completely lost without it. I am by no means perfectly efficient with my time, but the weekly review has brought me to a point where I think I am a 7 or 8 on a 10 scale.

Not only am I more efficient, but I am accomplishing more in my LIFE plan than I would otherwise. I am reminded of the airline pilot who announced, “We are lost, but making good time!” My weekly review helps me to make good time and my LIFE Plan makes sure I am not lost!

Nothing More To See Here

life planFolks, that is basically all of the details of my own LIFE Plan. As I said before, it is not perfect, but it works for me. I hope you gained at least some small idea that will help you be more effective with the life that God has given you.

Even if your next step is to create a life plan as simple as the one shown here, then you are at least getting started! I cannot claim this one as my own, but I sure do love the drive and vision!

I will say again, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me privately via the Contact Page.

How do you plan on a regular basis?

If you spent more time in planning (with God’s guidance), do you think you would be more effective?

What are the obstacles that keep you from doing a better job with planning?

Originally posted 1/31/12

Life Plan Process: Technology

This is the fourth post in a series on LIFE planning. In this series, I am sharing with you the basics of a LIFE plan and why you need one by going through the details of my own LIFE planning process. Neither my plan nor my process are perfect. In fact, they are evolving from year to year. My hope is that you can take what I do (or even just parts of it) and use it to create your own plan.

life plan

Life Plan Components

So far, I have told you why I think you need a life plan. I have shown you how to create a life plan master document and dashboard. In this post, I want to share with you the way I use technology as a part of my life planning process. Before you ask, I will walk you through my Weekly Review process in the next post!

Too Many Technology Choices!

Obviously, there are more technology choices out there than Baskin Robbins flavors of ice cream. I know this makes it tough to choose the right one. So, I did the best I could and ran with what I found. My point in telling you this is that my choices are just that…my choices. You may find something that works better for you.

If so, great! If you do not want to go through the search process, then I welcome you to try what I am using. You may even choose some and ignore others. You may even stick to pen and paper. Truly, it is not important. What is important is that you get started with something! Don’t let this subject keep you from beginning your life plan.


First, I will tell you about my hardware. I use an iPhone, iPad, and an HP laptop. I am not an “Apple” guy (no Mac for me at this point!), but I do love the iPhone and iPad. Everything I do syncs automatically and wirelessly between all three of these products. (The one exception is that I have to sync my iPhone and laptop with iTunes to sync my Contacts.)

I could get by without the iPad, but it has been a treat to use (I am still getting used to it) the more I learn with it. So at least for today, I mainly use the other two.

Software / Apps

As for my software/apps, there are four main products that I use. In each case, there are several products on the market, some paid and some free, that are similar in most ways. Again, these are not necessarily the best, but certainly work well for me. Every app listed below works on all three of my hardware products and syncs automatically.

Google Docs

This is probably the guts of my LIFE plan process. This is where I have uploaded my LIFE Plan Dashboard. The Dashboard is in a spreadsheet file, along with several other sheets I have added over time. In this one file, I have sheets that track my progress toward my goals.

I have a separate sheet for each of the following Focus Areas and Goals:

Reading List – books I’ve read, how I rated them, and progress toward goal
Listening List – audio books and messages I’ve listened to, rating, and goal progress
Exercise – exercise time and activities, progress toward goals
Scripture – all memory verses (1 per week) I am memorizing
Teaching – each teaching session I’ve led (topic and time) and goal progress
Blog Stats – tracks traffic metrics and goal progress

I use Google Docs for this because I can access it from any computer with internet access. This way I can do my review whether I am at my own computer or not. I can also access it on my iPhone and iPad.


Toodledo is my To Do list on steroids! In this app, I keep all of my tasks and projects. Using the general philosophy from David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I try to keep everything listed in here and not on my mind.

This app is very flexible in the way it allows me to schedule tasks, group them in folders according to Focus Area or by projects (with subtasks), and tag them any way I want. It sends reminders by SMS text or email (or both!). Whether I am in the car with only my phone or in the bed reading on the iPad, these reminders keep me straight and on task!

Google Calendar

Since I am already using Gmail and Google Docs, it makes sense for me to use Google Calendar as well. One of the things I like about Google Calendar is the ability to create multiple calendars and overlay them with each other, any way I want.

My wife keeps a calendar for the family and kid events. Anytime I want to plan family time or a date night out, I can simply click on her calendar and it overlays mine to show me the free times! This really works well for us.

In addition to my main calendar, I keep a simple reading and listening calendar along with one for my teaching/training schedule. These allow me to leave these calendars hidden except during my weekly review time. This way, my main calendar is not too cluttered.


Evernote is an amazing app that will do much more than I currently use for my LIFE plan process. Essentially, it is an electronic storage cabinet for any kind of document or file you want to put there.

For starters, I have my main LIFE Plan Document stored there. I also have a Weekly Review Template, which is just a checklist for my Weekly Review process. I also clip articles and ideas for future training sessions here.

All of my blog posts are written in Evernote and my prayer “notebook” is there. I also have a template there for my non-fiction book “net-outs.” I keep the net-outs from every book there as well.

All of this is available to review and edit on any computer with internet connection, but you can also download any or all files for offline use. When recently on vacation in Jamaica, this came in handy!


I assume this may seem like too much to some of you. I don’t disagree. At the same time, until I build habits in some of these areas, this process really helps keep me on track.

While I do not expect anyone to copy my process, I do hope my sharing has helped generate some ideas for many of you. If you have any questions about any of it, please feel free to ask. I will help where I can!

Are you using any of these tools or something similar?

How are you using technology to strengthen your performance?

What tools are you using that others may find useful?

Originally posted 1/29/12