Applying Better Manhood to Life Planning and Goal-Setting

As I continue this series on the skills needed for better manhood, I want to emphasize the importance of life planning and goal-setting. Men, in particular, need plans and goals to succeed in life. It helps them measure their personal and professional success. It helps them navigate life’s challenges and measure progress toward longer-term aspirations. Plans and goals provide structure, direction, and purpose that lead to more success in life. Success improves our self-esteem, enhances all of our relationships, and provides financial stability. Plans and goals create a vision for life, which is an important step toward maturity in adult men. 

Disciplines for a Better Life

As I have suggested throughout this series, maturity in a young male comes by learning to Manage Yourself Well. This begins as guys learn the hard and soft skills of better manhood and apply several personal disciplines such as: 

  • Setting Goals
  • Developing Good Habits
  • Learning to Prioritize
  • Developing Self-Discipline
  • Seeking Feedback
  • Learning from Mistakes
  • Being Self-Aware

Notice that the first discipline is setting goals and that each discipline relates to the others. So let’s start by describing the benefits of life planning and goals. 

Benefits of Life Planning and Goal Setting

Generally speaking, men (and women, for that matter!) who have a vision enjoy a more purposeful, focused, and fulfilling life. They create a plan for their life and set achievable goals that provide:

  • Direction and Purpose: As I wrote in an earlier post in this series titled, Discovering Your Purpose as a Man, all males need to know that they were put on this earth for a purpose since it guides their decision-making and actions. Identity helps males identify their passions, values, and priorities on how to use their masculine skills for good. It also helps them develop a long-term vision.
  • Motivation and Inspiration: Having clear goals and a life plan increases motivation and builds self-confidence. It provides a sense of achievement and inspires men to work towards achieving their goals. 
  • Focus and Prioritization: Good planning involves identifying priorities and focusing on what truly matters. This helps men to set clear and achievable objectives, learn new skills, overcome challenges, and develop a greater understanding of themselves and their priorities. 
  • Maintains Balance: Life planning helps men keep balance in the numerous areas of life: career, relationships, health, and personal growth. It guides the decision to say “No” to less important things and “Yes” to those with the most impact. As I wrote in Re-Prioritizing My Priorities, I once had wrong priorities due to a struggle with workaholism that teetered on depression. Fortunately, I found some deeper more authentic friendships that helped me understand and develop a better work-life balance. 
  • Resilience and Reflection: Planning and goal setting promotes perseverance and resilience. It encourages men to reflect on their behavior and habits, learn from their setbacks, and make any necessary adjustments to stay on track toward their goals.
  • Action and Progress: Setting goals involves breaking down long-term aspirations into smaller, actionable steps to create an action plan that helps track progress to increase your chances of success.  

All told, these areas help them create the stability and success that increases their overall satisfaction with life.  

Create a Personal Master Plan

Many businesses create a “master plan” that contains 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year goals that help them meet their vision to grow the business. Each year, companies that use a master planning process re-evaluate their goals and make adjustments to any actions to achieve those new goals. The same process can be used to create a “personal master plan” for your life.

  1. Create a vision: What is your long-term goal in life? Where do you want to live? What big accomplish do you want to achieve? What career do you desire? What are your family plans (Marriage, children, etc.)? 
  2. Perform a self-assessment: Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. What skills and strengths can you leverage? What areas do you need to develop? 
  3. Identify your values: Align your goals with your core beliefs.
  4. Determine your priorities: Identify what areas matter most to you.
  5. Establish SMART goals: Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound goals that help you meet your objectives. Make sure they align with your values and core beliefs. 
  6. Create an action plan: Write everything down in your plan to increase commitment and accountability. Outline the steps needed to achieve the goals. Which of the hard skills and soft skills do you need to develop? How you will measure progress on each skill? Who can help you maintain progress or develop the skills needed to succeed in those areas?

Find books or templates to help you organize your thoughts. Don’t get overwhelmed by the process. Just get started and refine or reorganize as you go along.

Think Long and Short Term

Mature men learn to think about their future. They realize the importance and persevere through making plans and achieving goals. They start by tackling their long-term plan in small pieces. This may take several months or even a year to complete so “Don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one sitting” as the old saying goes!

Begin your life planning project by identifying 1 or 2 “big picture” goals for your life. This creates the vision for your future. These goals should include where you want to live, what you want to accomplish, what career to pursue, and any family plans. They may include graduating from college or trade school, finding a well-paying career, moving to a new state or country, or finding a spouse or partner. 

Next, break down these big goals into small, manageable steps to help you reach each goal. Add 5-year, 3-year, and 1-year actions for completing those goals. Create actions that help you achieve those longer-term goals.

Finally, once you have your basic structure for the years of your plan, add concrete and actionable steps to each goal. Identify the actions and resources (people, money, education, skills) needed in the next year and the next 3 years. Always make sure the plans stay aligned with your values. 

You might enlist the help of a friend for this task. It can be a bit overwhelming so find someone to help who has done this process before.  

Small GB logo

GodBuddy Focus 

The Bible says that the chief end of man is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, Westminster Catechism). With this “SMART goal” in mind, the action plan of a godly man should include some spiritual disciplines that bring him closer to God. The actions help him learn to become more like Jesus Christ, the ultimate role model for men.

Years ago, I helped my congregation put on a workshop based on the spiritual disciplines. It started with a Spiritual Assessment tool that helped us create a plan to improve our journey to Christ-likeness using several spiritual disciplines:

  • Worship Continually
  • Pray Daily 
  • Study Diligently 
  • Live Graciously
  • Serve Generously 
  • Witness Boldly

The workshop concluded with the suggestion that we find a close friend to help us work on a plan. For men, this becomes our GodBuddy. That same suggestion can apply to better life planning and goal-setting because better men have a plan and goals that help them become better men, more godly men.

For discussion:

  • Have you ever done life-planning and goal-setting exercises? If so, how did it help you?
  • If not, how might a process of life planning and setting goals help you achieve a more fulfilling life? 
  • Do you practice any spiritual disciplines? Could those disciplines mentioned above help advance your faith journey? 
  • Who could help you through this process of life planning and goal setting? 

[Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash]

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