Whole library shelves now sag beneath books and manuals written to help human beings live happier, fuller lives. At one extreme, standardized tests categorize individuals’ personalities and match them, like computerized dating services, with occupations to fit those characteristics. At the other extreme, poets exhort us to cast aside our earthly bonds and leap upwards ‘to touch the face of God’. In between, innumerable authorities advise us on overcoming specific emotional blocks to personal growth – unhealed inner wounds, low self-esteem, addictive disorders.
So why on earth write another book?
The complete, ten-step Life-Planning Approach (LPA) described in this book stretches like a rainbow from one extreme to the other. It celebrates the lofty yearnings of the human soul, then hauls out the bricks and mortar to build
foundations beneath them. It goes from, “What thumbprint do you want to leave on the earth?” to “What first and second steps will I take?”
Like many other self-directing techniques, the LPA is designed for individuals facing transitions or seeking renewal, But the LPA differs from other techniques in several ways:
It acknowledges that our “life visions” expand beyond our occupations or day-to-day activities. Aspects such as spirituality or relationships with others or with the earth can be just as important as our careers in creating truly “successful” lives. With clear and powerful life visions, we make decisions about work, relationships, and other facets of our lives in harmony with a higher directive.
The LPA presumes we know the solutions for our own happiness better than any outside “expert”; deep within us, we all have the insight and power to create rich, satisfying lives for ourselves. Some may “hear” this inner knowing as God’s voice inside them; others may envision it as tapping into a spiritual center or force. However we express our beliefs, we are each like a seed, unique and self-complete; the LPA merely helps stimulate the growth latent within us.
The LPA doesn’t pretend we exist in a vacuum; we each live in a unique environment that pushes and pull us. By defining and evaluating internal and external influences, we can create an actual Life-Space Chart to recognize, understand and influence the factors that help shape our lives.
The LPA doesn’t stop with self-awareness, but moves us to a plan for action. We make actual contracts with ourselves, with specific, realistic, empowering steps, and built-in rewards for the goals reached.
The LPA is recyclable. We can use it again and again for self-renewal or “course adjustments” as the circumstances and challenges of our lives change. We can share it with our partners and friends or do it with our children.
Some self-help approaches provided direction without inspiration, motivating us about as effectively as math homework; others conjure insights without clear direction, leaving us all revved up with nowhere to go. The LPA escorts us from the conceptual to the concrete, from “getting excited” to getting to work.” The LPA is neither a psychological model nor a cure-all. It doesn’t dissolve all internal blocks nor solve all external ones, but it does allow us to discover and validate our life visions, to enhance positive influences in our lives, and to effectively identify and address the negative ones. It helps us get inspired, get straight, and get moving.
The LPA was originally created for use with a facilitator and one client. A workbook was also developed and used for group workshops. In this book, we have presented the LPA in a form for individuals to use on their own, by interspersing “growthsheets” with the chapters. Taking time to read, ponder and write may seem like homework at first; but it quickly begins to feel like a gift and a tribute to our inner selves. By listening to the true voice within each of us, we are tapping into the most knowledgeable and qualified advisor we could have.
Remember, the LPA is not a test. It is not standardized; there are no multiple choice questions or incorrect answers. The content comes from each individual who uses it; the LPA is merely a simple, Socratic method to allow us to listen to and follow our own wise advice.