Two things are certain about becoming a MadeMan – it doesn’t happen overnight and it is not an accident. One cannot simply stumble around the world and expect to one day awake Made. It requires dedication and discipline. It requires a plan. You are probably familiar with game plans and business plans, but what about life plans? Used by entertainers, CEOs and regular Joes, life plans act as a self-made map for your whole world. With so many distractions in our daily modern lives, we think tools to keep us on track make a lot of sense.

More than goals

We are not simply advocating a goal setting session. If you see yourself as the Regional Manager of a medium-sized paper company, that is a fine ambition, but a life plan requires more detail. It is as much about the means, as it is the ends, if not more so. It is greater than a single destination as well; your plan should include many goals and guidelines. Answer where you want to go not only in your professional life, but also your personal, and importantly, the type of individual you will be when you arrive.

Start with the mirror

To create an authentic plan, you must honestly understand what is important to you. You want success, sure, but what does that mean? Is success measured merely by salary, or do you include health, family and friends? This plan requires a 360 degree view of your life – hopes, dreams, fears, morals, beliefs, etc. Consider what actually makes you happy. There is not a set list for the world. If you truly enjoy working 65 hour weeks in order to drive the hottest car, go for it. When listing priorities and goals, be realistic. A workaholic and dedicated family man that never misses a happy hour with friends is an unlikely combination.

Easy decision making

After you have created a plan that is true to you, daily choices become much more automatic. You now have a guide for everyday life. If you constantly feel pushed and pulled around between differing responsibilities, your plan helps you focus priorities. You will be allowed to commit yourself fully to whatever you truly enjoy and ignore distractions. Even better, it is justified (in your mind, at least) because you have committed to the plan, meaning you won’t look back, wondering if you made the correct choice. If improving your health is a listed top priority, it makes it easier to brush off your buddies’ ridicule for skipping poker night in favor of the gym. It’s like baking cookies; just follow the directions (not that we bake cookies).

Accountability

Assuming you are not performing illegal acts, you call your own fouls in the game of life. Thus, the only way a life plan actually works is if you follow through. Remember when you decided college was over and you weren’t going to stumble home with strangers anymore? Remember WWYD (what would you do?), flag a cabbie and wake up regret free. Or conversely, you promised not to let your job define your life so you can accept your friends’ Wednesday night party requests more frequently. This is not a silly New Year’s resolution, this thought out, (hopefully more) sober commitment to yourself, put onto paper not because it is fashionable to make such proclamations, but because you want it. So stick to it.

Why do I need a plan?

Nobody is perfect, including you stud. We can all use some improvement. Expecting to become a better person just cause you feel it should happen is ridiculous. If you are not currently living the best possible life, ask why not. Earn that promotion by ignoring facebook more. Or win that first date by flirting via social media. This is not an intervention; we don’t want you to live one way or another. Some need freedom, others require discipline. The point is that you can become better at living. You can live on purpose. That’s why you need a plan.