End Malaria - Creating a Personal Masterplan

I’m proud to join a group of 62 authors in publishing End Malaria - the first business book that literally saves lives.

End Malaria is available from Amazon.com, and costs $25. Your purchase sends a $20 mosquito net to a family in need and supports life-saving work in the fight against malaria.

In the printed version of End Malaria, you can find my contribution on page 127, in between contributions by Dave Ramsey and David Allen. The book features contributions from Kevin Kelly, Pam Slim, Sir Ken Robinson, Derek Sivers, Barry Schwartz, Jonah Lehrer, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Chris Guillebeau, Jonathan Fields, Dan Pink, among others. I read the entire book last night, and it’s a very solid collection.

For End Malaria, I contributed the latest version of my “Personal Masterplanning" technique. This simple goal-setting and prioritization technique will help you discover what you actually want, and what’s most important, in record time.

If you enjoy my contribution, you’ll enjoy End Malaria. Be sure to buy a copy today - and save a life in the process.

Creating a Personal Masterplan

Want to experience immediate clarity about your life and work? Want to ensure you’re prioritizing the projects that will lead to the results you desire most?

Create a personal masterplan.

Step #1: The Mind Dump

Here’s what to do first: grab a pen and five sheets of paper. At the top of the first page, boldly scribble “Here’s What I Want…"

Go nuts. List all of your big dreams, major projects, and minor preferences. Anything you want is fair game – what other people want you to want doesn’t really matter. Try to self-censor as little as possible – things that other people wouldn’t find socially acceptable are okay too. (You can always burn the list later if you’re worried someone will read it.)

Dump the contents of your mind onto paper as completely as possible. You’ll know you’re done when you can’t think of anything else you might possibly want.

Step #2: Sorting

Here’s the second step: we’re going to sort the list you created into three separate lists to add a bit of clarity about what each item actually is. Here are the categories:

  • 1. Goals - statements of achievement. Well-formed goals pass what I call the “Everest Test" – if you want to climb Mt. Everest, you know precisely when you’ve accomplished your goal. The best goals are positive, immediate, concrete, and specific. They’re also things that you have the power to accomplish if you invest enough time and effort.

​- 2. States of Being - qualities of your present experience. “I want to be happy" is not a goal, since you can feel happy in one moment and miserable in the next. States of Being are actually decision criteria, not goals. If you “want to feel free," and you’re not feeling free in a given moment, you know you need to change something.

  • 3. Habits - daily supporting behaviors that keep you healthy, calm, and sane. Habits take some willpower to install, but the results accumulate over time. Brushing your teeth is a habit. So is going for a walk every day after dinner.

Step #3: Prioritizing

Once you’ve separated your list into these three lists, you’re ready for the third stage: prioritizing.

Most people think of prioritization as “deciding what’s most important." The trouble with that definition is that it easily leads to overwhelm – way too many things feel important at once. (If it wasn’t important, it wouldn’t be on your list.)

That why it’s easy to feel overworked and stressed out: unless you make a conscious choice, your mind will continue to want everything, all at once.

Prioritization is actually the process of deciding what’s not important: what you’re not going to focus on right now. If you delete, delegate, or defer your less important wants, you free up time and energy for the reminder, which is more important by definition.

Start with your Goals list, and apply a simple rule: assume you can only accomplish 50% of the items on this list this year. Which items do you keep, and which do you cross off your list? Cut your list in half.

When you’re done cutting, cut the list in half again, then again, until you have four items left. Those are your most important goals right now.

When you’ve finished pruning your Goals, do the same for your States of Being and Habits list. Yes, the last few cuts are the most difficult, but they’re also the most valuable.

Cutting something from your list doesn’t mean you’re giving up on it completely – it simply means it’s less important than other items right now. Everything you cut can go on what David Allen calls a “Someday/Maybe" list that you can revisit later, when you’re ready for a new challenge.

Using Your Masterplan

Creating a masterplan takes at least an hour, but it’ll be one of the most productive hours you spend this year. Here’s why: having a masterplan makes it very easy to determine your most important tasks each day.

At the beginning of each day, review your masterplan. Figure out the very next thing you can do to achieve each of your goals. Those tasks will, by definition, lead most directly to what you want, so do them first.

Remind yourself of how you want to experience your daily life. Schedule time for the habits that support you.

It’s amazing how much a simple list can help you feel grounded, focused, and motivated each day. To your success!

If you enjoyed this post, purchase a copy of End Malaria now. You’ll learn a ton, and save a life in the process.

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