Success is more than economic gains, titles, and degrees. Planning for success is about mapping out all the aspects of your life. Similar to a map, you need to define the following details: origin, destination, vehicle, backpack, landmarks, and route.
Origin: Who you are
A map has a starting point. Your origin is who you are right now. Most people when asked to introduce themselves would say, "Hi, I'm John and I am a 17-year old, junior college student." It does not tell you about who John is; it only tells you his present preoccupation. To gain insights about yourself, you need to look closely at your beliefs, values, and principles aside from your economic, professional, cultural, and civil status. Moreover, you can also reflect on your experiences to give you insights on your good and not-so-good traits, skills, knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses. Upon introspection, John realized that he was highly motivated, generous, service-oriented, but impatient. His inclination was in the biological-medical field. Furthermore, he believed that life must serve a purpose, and that wars were destructive to human dignity.
Destination: A vision of who you want to be
"Who do want to be?" this is your vision. Now it is important that you know yourself so that you would have a clearer idea of who you want to be; and the things you want to change whether they are attitudes, habits, or points of view. If you hardly know yourself, then your vision and targets for the future would also be unclear. Your destination should cover all the aspects of your being: the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Continuing John's story, after he defined his beliefs, values, and principles in life, he decided that he wanted to have a life dedicated in serving his fellowmen.
Vehicle: Your Mission
A vehicle is the means by which you can reach your destination. It can be analogized to your mission or vocation in life. To a great extent, your mission would depend on what you know about yourself. Bases on John's self-assessment, he decided that he was suited to become a doctor, and that he wanted to become one. His chosen vocation was a medical doctor. Describing his vision-mission fully: it was to live a life dedicated to serving his fellowmen as a doctor in conflict-areas.
Travel Bag: Your knowledge, skills, and attitude
Food, drinks, medicines, and other travelling necessities are contained in a bag. Applying this concept to your life map, you also bring with you certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These determine your competence and help you in attaining your vision. Given such, there is a need for you to assess what knowledge, skills, and attitudes you have at present and what you need to gain along the way. This two-fold assessment will give you insights on your landmarks or measures of success. John realized that he needed to gain professional knowledge and skills on medicine so that he could become a doctor. He knew that he was a bit impatient with people so he realized that this was something he wanted to change.
Landmarks and Route: S.M.A.R.T. objectives
Landmarks confirm if you are on the right track while the route determines the travel time. Thus, in planning out your life, you also need to have landmarks and a route. These landmarks are your measures of success. These measures must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. Thus you cannot set two major landmarks such as earning a master's degree and a doctorate degree within a period of three years, since the minimum number of years to complete a master's degree is two years. Going back to John as an example, he identified the following landmarks in his life map: completing a bachelor's degree in biology by the age of 21; completing medicine by the age of 27; earning his specialization in infectious diseases by the age of 30; getting deployed in local public hospitals of their town by the age of 32; and serving as doctor in war-torn areas by the age of 35.
Anticipate Turns, Detours, and Potholes
The purpose of your life map is to minimize hasty and spur-of-the-moment decisions that can make you lose your way. But oftentimes our plans are modified along the way due to some inconveniences, delays, and other situations beyond our control. Like in any path, there are turns, detours, and potholes thus; we must anticipate them and adjust accordingly.