Practicalities – Forward Planning

I’m sitting here, writing this article on New Years Day. This is one of my favourite times of the year as it allows me reflect on various parts of my life and to plan how best to move forward into the New Year.

I’m not just talking about New Year’s Resolutions, although these do form part of my planning, I also consider other things that I want to do during this year, or further out, either personally or with my family or friends.


My personal nature is to plan, but I appreciate that the word ‘planning’ could be intimidating or tedious to some people! However, I know do how enabling planning can be. I often get asked how I manage to fit so much into my life. The simple answer is planning and sticking to my plan.

I try to plan across various timescales: years, months, weeks, days, sometimes even parts of the day. I also plan across different aspects of my life: meals, finances, exercise, chores etc. This probably seems very structured to some people, but it really helps me to optimise my life and keep me focused. It also serves to enable, not constrain me without being obsessive. Ironically, I’ve also learned to become more flexible and even spontaneous through planning, by being able to change plans to fit a changing situation.

Admittedly, I’m not always as organised as I’d like to be – I feel like I’m operating in organised chaos for much of the time – but planning definitely helps sets me along the right path. Planning doesn’t always mean that everything is organised, but quite often is prioritised.

There are also some things that are out of my control, regardless of the plans I make. The key here is to go with the flow and try not to get stressed. At least I’ll have played my part in queuing something up.


Benefits of Planning

I heard a great metaphor recently about people being ‘cow like’ i.e. grazing grass, moving from one patch of grass to the next bit without really looking up and around. What if you’re missing out on a really succulent piece of grass across the field? What if there is a danger ahead that you can’t see? What if everything is not about the next tuft of grass?

Forward planning gives you the opportunity to lift up your head and take a look around you.

I love planning as it provides me with the best chance of succeeding:

–        Forward looking – considers the future and where I’m aiming

–        Gives me the best chance of fitting in all the things I want to do within limited time

–        Financially, it helps me to make rational decisions up front, both short and longer-term

–        Enables me to foresee some risks and issues and mitigate against them

–        Doesn’t remove all risks or issues, but gives me the biggest chance of success.

I’m not the only advocate of planning, it seems like I’m in good company:

Benjamin Franklin once said that “By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail’.

Stephen Covey, in his amazing classic, the 7 Habits of Effective People, talks of planning within Habit 2: Begin With the End in Mind and Habit 3: Put First Things First.

Then there’s the Military adage of The 7 Ps of Planning, that I learned from my husband, an Army veteran. There are various interpretations of this, but I think you’ll get the point.

Planning and its relevance to ALB

If I’m totally honest, I see planning as a big part of Age Life Balance. If there is something that I can do today, that may positively impact my future self and future life, then the sooner I’m aware of it the better.

I’ve listed some questions below that will be useful to consider at some point. This is not an exhaustive list, but could provide some food for thought.

You may not be comfortable answering all of these questions (or at least not yet), but looking further ahead and thinking about some of those questions before working back to the present could be useful to you and your loved ones…


Questions to ask yourself:

Begin with the end in mind – Later years

Where do I envisage spending my later years?

What are my thoughts about palliative care and death?

What are my preferences for funeral arrangements?

Longer term planning – Retirement

How much money will I need and how will I finance my retirement?

At what age to I want to retire?

How do I plan to spend my time?

Where would I want to live? Location and accommodation

How mobile and active do I plan to be?

Who do I want to spend time with?

Medium term planning – Pre-retirement

Will I be able to continue my lifestyle for the foreseeable future?

Do I want to / will I be able to continue in the same line of work?

What other options do I have for filling my time / earning money?

Do I have or am I building the right social connections?

Short-term planning – Here and now

What can I do now to positively influence the answers to any of the questions above?

Finances – can I pay more into my mortgage or pension fund now?

Health – are there any changes I could make to my lifestyle to optimise my health now and when I’m older?

Mind – how can I keep my mind as sharp as possible?

Body – can I do more exercise to keep me strong, mobile and flexible as I get older?

Taking this on board

On reflection, what could I do right now?

  • Thankfully, I’m fit and healthy, but I continually look for ways to refine and sustain this, and I don’t take my health and fitness for granted.
  • I’m working with a Financial Advisor on my retirement planning to give me the best chance of maximising my retirement finances.
  • One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to work on my cognitive functions. I will be doing a daily Sudoku or logic puzzle, to get different parts of my brain working. This is a hard one for me as the Sudoku part of my brain seems to be in a coma, unable to be revived!

I’ll let you know how I get on with my challenges….



Forward planning can be a great enabler. It can be useful across different components and timescales of your life, but you can start with some simple suggestions to try it out and build up to more complex or life-changing plans that could positively influence your future.

So, what one thing could you plan right now?


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