6 Ways a Business Plan Can Improve Your Personal Life

Do you give your personal life the same priority you give your business? Use these strategies to focus more on the things that really matter.
President and Founder, Clarion Enterprises Ltd.
February 17, 2014

Most successful entrepreneurs have admirable skills that make them stand out from the rest of the crowd: They have a vision they pursue with passion, they don't take their eyes off the prize, and they have a strategic approach to their business.

But the other side of the coin is an entrepreneur's personal life. Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.” All true words. But in that fierce dedication to your business and an unwavering devotion to realizing the vision, your personal life can suffer.

To prevent this, you can use your formidable business planning skills, your acumen and your drive to enhance your personal life. Wouldn't it be valuable if you could be as successful with your relationships, your personal goals and the quality of your life as you are with your business life?

Here are some thoughts on how you can accomplish this:

Keep an Eye on Your Personal Solvency Ratio

Successful entrepreneurs make sure their company has enough cash, assets and low debt to continue operations without running into financial difficulties. This takes discipline. Are you doing the same for your health? For example, do you ignore your cholesterol intake? Do you slow down periodically to avoid chronic stress? Do you put your heart at risk by consistently sleeping less than eight hours a night? Do you read food labels with the same care you read your balance sheet? Self-care is the smartest risk management program.

Gain Clarity About Your Personal Values

Innovation, customer satisfaction, teamwork, respect, integrity, diversity: These are some of the common values that show up in the business world. They're the beliefs we've carefully crafted to guide how we interact in the workplace with our employees and our business associates.

But what about your personal values, those you manifest at home every day? Have you ever given these a thought? Pull out a sheet of paper, and write them down. You might be surprised that upon reflection, such values as calmness, inner peace, friendship, closeness, devotion and warmheartedness show up. But they may be getting submerged in the daily onslaught of work.

If there's a disconnect between these important personal values and the way you behave on a daily basis, the quality of your personal life is compromised. We experience an unconscious friction when our behavior is not aligned with our deeply held values, with how we want to show up with our loved ones and all those closest to us. Pay as close attention to your personal values as you do your corporate values.

Plan Saturdays as Carefully as You Plan Mondays

Time management is a major preoccupation for all businesspeople. We pay careful attention to our to-do lists, daily schedules and calendars. We have a proliferation of apps to keep us on track.

What if you applied some of this diligence to your personal life? Here's a low-tech idea that doesn't require any gadgets and might well have an impact on how you plan your personal time: the Thousand Marbles idea that was first reported by Jeff Davis and quickly turned into a modern parable about appreciating life's finite nature.

Plan Your Saturdays With The Same Care As You Plan Your Mondays

The idea originated with an older man who decided to count how many Saturdays we generally have in our life. The average person, he surmised, lives about 75 years. He multiplied 75 by 52 and came up with 3,900, which is the number of Saturdays the average person has in his or her entire lifetime. By the time he was 55 years old, this older gentleman realized that, if he lived to 75, he would have only about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So he bought a thousand marbles and placed them in a jar. Every Saturday, he removes one of them as a reminder to plan his Saturday with care. "I found that by watching the marbles diminish," he said, "I focused more on the really important things in life. There's nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight."

Take inspiration from this to appreciate the value of your personal time.

Create a Personal Life Plan

Just as a business plan creates a road map for your company, a personal life plan is a torch light that can guide you toward achieving your personal objectives. Start with a vision statement of how you want to be with your spouse, children, friends and your community (outside of your work environment). This will be your compass to remind you when you lose yourself in your business and stray away from your ideal self.

If your current reality isn't aligned with your ideal self, think about what actions you need to take to create that alignment. Make some space in your life for periodic reviews of your current reality and your ideal self. Take inspiration from author Michael Hyatt, who uses a quarterly review process to stay on track with his life plan—this will help you to keep in touch with what matters most. You can download Hyatt's free e-book, Creating A Personal Life Plan.

Protect the Irreplaceable

In business, you pay a great deal of attention to protecting your company assets. For example, you inventory everything, buy insurance, set up internal controls and generally keep your eye on your assets to safeguard them from harm.

How about your personal life—your family, health, friends and spirit? These are what Bryan G. Dyson, CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, calls the "glass balls." As Dyson once said to his staff, “Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them—work, family, health, friends and spirit—and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls—family, health, friends and spirit—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same."

Protect The Irreplaceable

As you struggle to make your company successful, it's sometimes easy to inadvertently neglect those glass balls, the things that are irreplaceable. Resolve to apply the same mindfulness to your glass balls (your personal life) as you do to the rubber balls (your business). 

Set Personal Goals and Priorities

Apply your goal-setting skills in business to setting goals and priorities for your family relationships, and for your mind, body and spirit. To help you with this, try using the "Custom Life Plan Closet" developed by Allison Rimm, author of The Joy of Strategy: A Business Plan For Life. This handy template not only helps you map your goals in these crucial life areas, but it also aids in tracking development tools and resources that you discover as you progress with your life plan, including quick hits and long-term strategies.

After you've mapped your goals, perform what Rimm calls a "time and emotion study." For this, you critically review how well your current use of time lines up with your newly stated goals in your personal life. How much time do you spend on priorities? And, more important, what time are you misspending on activities and people that aren't important to you, that don't further your personal life goals? Why are you wasting time on these non-value-added activities? What is the cost to your personal life when you do this? This is a sobering exercise you can use to help you ditch any activities that don't bring you pleasure or contribute to a life well-lived.

Your personal life is your most important business--manage it wisely. The late Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch put it best: "It is not about achieving your dreams," he said in The Last Lecture, "but living your life."

Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., and the author of two books: Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow.

Read more articles on productivity.

Photos: Thinkstock

President and Founder, Clarion Enterprises Ltd.