How to kick-start your big picture planning

All this last week, I have been mooning about the place feeling as lost as a Firefly fan at a Star Trek convention.


Despite, or even because of, my wise words about white space in my last post, you might think that I would be switched on, juiced up, firing on all cylinders and generally moving on and up.


After a summer break of wining, dining, sleeping and talking genial nonsense with family and friends I thought I would be organised, focused and ready to go. But I am not.


So if any of you are in the same boat of not knowing what to do next, first or at all, what follows are five simple steps for doing some big picture planning.


It will only take you an hour at most, and will motivate and inspire you to make all these good things happen.


This is based on an educated guess, that like me, you know what you want but you haven’t given yourself time to write it down yet:


Step 1


Take a piece of butchers or drawing paper about A2 size. Fold it in half, then in half again twice more.


When you unfold it you should have 16 rectangles:




Starting at the top left-hand corner, label each rectangle with a month of the year beginning with next month. The remaining rectangles at the bottom of the page are labelled with the next four years.


Step 2


Take a series of coloured post it notes and write on each one a few words about something you would like achieve. This can be something you would like to DO, BE or HAVE and does not have to be all work-related.


Try not to censor your ideas but write about 20 before you draw breath to think. Just get one thing on each note. You can also colour code them by category if you can think that fast.


Step 3


When you have about 20, start placing them on the page to show when you would like to do, be or have that vision.


Once again, no need to think about it too intensely – this has been designed so you can change your mind at any time.


And if your page looks like mine, you will have to when you see that a particular month is overburdened with stuff while others are empty.


Step 4


You have got the hang of it. Go a little bit crazy (being sensible comes later.) Enjoy! Play!




Step 5


Stop when you have had enough or start feeling overwhelmed by all that you want to achieve.


Go away and do something else, and when you come back in a calmer mood you can look at your map in a more practical way and move things back, around or into different parts of your future.


Many thanks to Stella Horgan for introducing me to this method of five year forecasting. It can be done any time of year, and I use it with my clients, very often with surprising and eye opening results.


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