In this week's blog: the 4 key steps a personal plan should cover

He opened up his jacket, and withdrew a tightly folded piece of paper from his inner pocket.

“This,” he said, “is my personal plan.”

The gentleman in question had built an enormously successful company. Two, in fact.

And one of the secrets to his success, he claimed, was this A4 sheet which he carried everywhere and referenced every single day.

It listed his personal goals for the quarter, and the actions he was going to take to make these happen – exactly like a business plan, but for his own life.

I am a big believer in personal plans – I created one for myself before I hit 50, to ensure that I thrive in the years running up to retirement.

And I believe companies should help their employees create personal plans when they hit the middle of their careers, too, for the same reason.

So what should a good plan look like? What should be included?

There are 4 categories you need to think about:

1. Work.workplace-people

But the type of work you enjoy doing, the hours you want to work,the level of responsibility you wish to shoulder, and the people you want to work for, or with…

…all these may change considerably.

Many people, for example, want to start cutting down their hours several years before they approach retirement.

We’ve had staff members who have opted for a sabbatical, to recharge their batteries.

And lots of my friends have changed direction entirely, and set themselves up as entrepreneurs.

How do you picture your career developing over the next 10-20 years?

And just as importantly, what qualifications, skills and experience do you need to put in place now, to make that happen?

Those will form the core of your personal plan.

Helping your mid-career staff map out their answers to these questions is a great opportunity to ensure that your visions align (where possible), and to get them the support they’ll need to continue developing and contributing to your company.

When you know what they’re considering, it will also help you with future planning.

2. Wealth.workplace-money2

Being able to eventually reduce your hours at work to support elderly relatives, taking a sabbatical, taking some extra courses to build up new skills…

…these all take money!

So have you worked out just how much you’re going to need, to fulfil your goals? And if you haven’t already saved enough, how will you fund the difference?

To take control of your future you have to take control of your finances, so this must be a key part of your personal plan.

And again, the same is true for your mid-career staff. By providing them with financial education, you will reduce their financial stress. But just as importantly, it may open up additional possibilities for them – for example, going part-time or taking a sabbatical instead of dropping out altogether – which may suit you too.

3. Pension.workplace-piggybank

Just as you need a vision for the rest of your working life, both you and your staff need a vision for retirement.

Do you plan to continue working in any capacity? What kind of hobbies do you want to take up? How do you envision spending your days? Will you still be supporting any family members? Where do you want to live? What kind of lifestyle do you picture leading?

There may be some preparation you need to do several years ahead, to make your vision a reality – this is why you need a plan!

And of course, retirement takes funds too. Usually a lot more than most people have saved up.  

So if you – and your employees – are to retire eventually, and have enough money to enjoy the lifestyle you envisioned, you’ll need to develop a plan to make this possible many years ahead.

4. Wellness.workplace-hand-heart

You’ll need more than money to support your desired lifestyle in the coming years. You’ll also need good health.

And while this health can never be guaranteed, there are steps you – and your staff – can take to improve your health, for example taking on more exercise, healthy eating, sleeping better and of course taking care of your mental health.

With the right plan, you – and your employees – can extend your working life and stay more productive and focused for as long as you are in work.

And when you eventually retire, you will be in a better position to enjoy that stage too.

Of course, that’s just an overview of the kinds of issues you need to consider. I’ll be exploring each of the 4 areas in greater depth over the next few weeks, so watch out for those emails…

…and in the meanwhile, start thinking about your personal plan. It doesn’t have to fit on one sheet, like the businessman I told you about, but any plan is better than none!

Posted by Steve Butler

Topics: Age diversity, wellbeing, Mid-life

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