How To Create A Life Plan Dashboard

This is the third 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 Document

In my last post, I gave you a detailed description and break-down of my main LIFE Plan document. I described my Roles, Focus Areas, and Goals. I gave you a couple of samples from these areas. I also gave you access to download my [Title Page Summary] and [Godly Father Role].

As you can probably guess, combining all of these pieces into a complete document makes for a long document. The length of the document made it difficult to quickly review it on a regular basis. While I considered cutting it down, I just could not figure out which parts to eliminate.

Dashboard as Summary

So, as a result, I decided I needed a “dashboard” of sorts. With a one-page summary, I felt I could use this document in a weekly review process. I used a compilation of several resources I had found (and created a spreadsheet that would represent the month to month living out of my LIFE Plan. This Dashboard is made up of many sections, or “Gauges”, that help me keep my overall LIFE plan at the forefront of my mind.

Roles, Focuses, and Goals Gauges

For the first section, I started with the eight roles and laid out the sheet in a way that would allow me to see all eight Roles and the corresponding Focus Areas. Then, I left three blanks under each Role for monthly Goals. Each month, I update my monthly Goals, leaving the Roles and Focus Areas the same throughout the year.

Take a look at the picture below to get an idea of what I mean. (Note the Roles and Focus Areas have changed…this is part of my dashboard from December 2010)

life plan

Remaining Sections

As I have said several times, this whole process has evolved over time for me. You may want to stop right there and let your dashboard include only your Roles, Focuses, and Goals Guages. I started here, but have since added to mine. I will share the rest of my Dashboard with you and let you decide if any of it is interesting to you.

Strengths Gauges

In his book Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham describes how working on your strengths is the best strategy. At the end of the book, you take a test and are told your top strengths. I really found the material to be enlightening and began determining how I could apply it to my life.

In a sequel to Buckingham’s book, StrengthsFinder 2.0, author Tom Rath details out a list of 10 strategies for developing each strength described. I picked the top two or three of those actions for each of my top four strengths and put them on my dashboard.

Take a look at this picture to see how this looks.

life plan

Final Gauges

Across the bottom of the LIFE plan Dashboard, I added four more sections based on what I felt was most important to review regularly. You may substitute your own categories here, but I included the following:

1. Prayer Focusa listing of various ongoing areas in which I focused my prayer
2. Reading/Listening Plana list of the books and audio for that month
3. 360 Assessmentmy top ten concern areas from a 360 degree assessment of me
4. Scripturea list of references to the 15-20 verses I am trying to memorize

Here is a visual of these gauges.

life plan

Closing Quote

To close out the bottom of my LIFE Plan Dashboard, I wanted something to keep me focused on the big picture. I learned in my C12 group that I should always be ready with a conversation-starting response to the question, “What do you do for a living?” I used this answer to close out my dashboard.

I work for an unusual company. It is an car dealership group that is a Christian company. We are trying to learn, and to show, how Jesus would run a company if He were the boss.

That’s It!

So, there it is! That is my LIFE Plan Dashboard, in all its glory! If you want to see the entire document together, just [Click Here].

Some of you are thinking I am crazy and others are thinking I am weak. That is fine! I can handle it!

Regardless of what you are thinking, I encourage you to do something similar. I will go into more detail about how I use this Dashboard in my final post in this series, but for now, I urge you to think about what you could create that would be easy to review on a weekly basis. Keeping your life plan in front of you in some shape or form will keep you closer to the path God has revealed to you.

What is your reaction to this dashboard?

Do you see how you could benefit from a weekly review of your life plan?

What do you see to be your next step in the life planning process?

Originally posted 1/26/12

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  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Chris, my reaction to your process is one of a kid stepping into the cockpit of a Boeing 747, both fascinated and overwhelmed. I followed the C12 link. Intriguing concept. Thanks for sharing both your life plan process and your links.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Thanks…I think!

      It is certainly something that has taken time to evolve to where it is, but it has been helpful in keeping me intentional on a fairly consistent basis. I still have a long way to go before I am executing like I want, but at least I am improving as I go.

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Wow, you’ve really spent a lot of work on this dashboard. That’s cool.
    How long does it take you to review this dashboard?

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Loren, it usually takes me 30-45 minutes to work through it each week. I will have a little more detail about this process in the next post, but the weekly review is a critical part of my process. Without that, I would be drifting blindly!

  • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

    My reaction to this dashboard is one of being overwhelmed and awed at the same time. I’m glad you say that it takes shape over time because thinking about putting that together as a whole is just too much. I’m more likely to do just one part at a time. As I said in a comment on a previous post, you could teach a class on this and lead students through the process. A weekly review of my life plan (if I had one down in detail like you do) would help me stay focused. It would make saying yes to what’s relevant easier, and saying no would be easier too. Right now, I know what my main goals are, and God has shown me the first few steps with them. But, he has not give me the whole picture. I’m taking the steps I know about and waiting for His leading to take me further. Really, the process you are showing in these posts just seems like too much for me, and I’m a pretty organized person who likes to plan. I’m just struggling getting my mind around it all. But, I appreciate what you are doing and certainly get ideas out of it to use toward my own progress.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Kari, I completely understand that this is overwhelming. I really did not realize how in-depth it had gotten until I began trying to summarize it for this series! I see that I really need to work at simplifying it before I try to teach it again.

      As far as your plan, I will say again that a life plan does not need to be so robust. You just need to start with simple. The main point I wanted to communicate is that we need something that guides us. It is so easy to want to head in a certain direction, but not actually plan how we are going to do it. A life plan is just a map of how we plan to get to what we want the end of our life to look like.

      It may be obvious to some, but this is a life plan, which means it should take us all of our lives to work it out! It is a long-distance run, not a sprint!

      I encourage you to ignore what I have shown you in that it is overwhelming. If there is a part of it you like, then take that and forget the rest. Mine is not perfect in its size…it just works for me. Bigger is not better! Find what works for you and get started!

      • http://www.struggletovictory.com/ Kari Scare

        I like getting new ideas, and for that what you write is thanks for the detailed response. It is very useful. I am praying that the Holy Spirit shows me how to use it to make adjustments in what I am doing. Keep the ideas coming. I will most likely refer to them again over time. I’m in the race for the long haul. Thank you for the detailed response. It is both encouraging and helpful as are all of your posts.

        • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

          Thank you Kari!

  • GreaterSeas

    This is great stuff. Seriously. Thank you for taking the time to share your resources and your heart. I do believe God is working in ways you cannot even see.

    I too found the dashboard overwhelming at first. Then I thought about the fact that this is my life and to consider it unworthy of 30 minutes of my time a week is foolish. Not only am I planning my life but I’m allowing God to reveal His will for me through the action of living intentionally. It’s worth it.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Mike, I really appreciate your encouragement! I love your blog and value your opinion!

  • http://www.coachbrown.org/ Coach Brown

    As you have time, please send a copy of your template. Thanks Chris! I have enjoyed having the focused vision to guide me daily.

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Will do, Coach.

  • CST

    I would appreciate your templates for the document and excel dashboard as well.

    Thanks for doing this! So helpful!

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  • Alan Young

    God wants us to be a good steward of our time, resources, and gifts…all things given to us, right? Your dashboard concept pulls one’s stewardship into a constant top-of-mind focus. I too would appreciate any templates you could offer. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.ChristianFaithAtWork.com/ Chris Patton

      Thanks for the encouragement, Alan. I just sent the templates to your email address. I hope they are helpful!

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