Let’s take a minute to think about plans. What exactly are they and why are they important?

The wiki says that: “A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. A method to reaching your goals.”

When building a house, you have to have a plan. You can’t just start digging and hammering nails and expect to just come up with something.

In business school they teach you about writing business plans because if you don’t have one, you might have a hard time making any money, which is the point of a business after all.

So what about life? If you want to get to where you want to go in life, you will also need a plan. How else will you reach your ultimate goals and fulfill your dreams? You do have goals and dreams right?

So why is it that so many people go though life without making any plans?

The main focus of my job right now is Information Architecture for software development. This means I draw plans that focus on how a piece of software is supposed to work, look, behave, interact, etc. Needless to say, it irked me a little when I came to the shocking realization that, while I make plans all day for my job, I didn’t actually have much of a solid plan for my life.

So, over the new year I decided to sit down and make some lists and plans for myself and my family and our future. The result was a basic, one year plan and then an extended 20 year plan. (I wrote this post in January, but to be honest, after I made my plans, i was so motivated and busy following them, i forgot to post this, so here it is…)

List 1 – 3 Words

List one is made up of 3 simple words I used to orient myself and stay focused on my key goals over the next year. (I got the idea from Chris Brogan)

My 3 words for 2011 are: Streamline, Ship and Share


This year is all about cut, trim, hack, slash and burn. This year I am stepping off the hamster wheel, and focusing on building oil wells and planting the seeds. I am managing my time more effectively and efficiently, removing obstacles, completing projects and streamlining anything possible to allow me to reach my 20 year goals set up in list 2.

Basically, if it doesn’t serve the 20 year plan, it’s outta there:

  • Slicing away all of the unnecessary
  • Focus on only learning things that will increase my efficiency and effectiveness
  • Ignoring and unfollowing LOTS of distracting social things and activity that don’t provide real value
  • Less email checking
  • Less random web surfing
  • Making the best use of time: time boxes, lists and schedules, practice
  • Throw out junk and organize, both physically and emotionally
  • Focus on the important and revenue generating
  • Focus on what I am good at and what I LIKE doing
  • Focus on the positive and less bitching (i really need to work on this one)
  • Increase investment momentum and build on my exit strategy


  • Complete unfinished projects
  • Launch work related projects
  • (no excuses)


  • (I need to work on this part)
  • Build on ways to Influence others and share their ideas
  • Focus on ways to help people
  • Build my influence in the process

List 2 – The 20 Year Plan

The 20 year plan is broken down into chunks of 2, 5, 10 and 20 year milestones.

These are both personal and professional plans and I shared these with my wife so that we can stay in alignment. Basically a list of everything I want to achieve in a 20 year time period and a realistic assessment of when I can expect to do so.

We all have big plans, dreams and goals we want for ourselves. At least we SHOULD. Let me tell you, once you break down all of them into a 20 year plan, it forces both a scary and exciting kind of immediacy to your life. It gives you perspective on why and what you need to do to fill the gaps between connecting all of those dots of your life goals.

What are your 3 words for 2011? What are your plans? Do you have any?

Have you made any long term goals for yourself?

If not, you had better make the decision to do it now. The clock is ticking. tick… tick… tick… Think i’m kidding? Try it. You’ll see.

Sean Earley

Sean Earley is an American digital consultant, podcast host, speaker, publisher & music producer. He advises Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and organizations on innovation, new technology, strategy, communications, marketing & design. He is the host of several podcasts and makes regular appearances on international media platforms where he discusses the latest trends in technology, culture, business and politics.