The Earned Life: Life Plan Review

We began a summary of the 2022 Malcolm Goldsmith book The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment in our previous post. Part I of the book focuses on establishing a proper mindset. This post covers Part II of the book and is about taking action to live your earned life. We describe the five building blocks of discipline and explain Goldsmith’s Life Plan Review to complete our book summary.

Earning Your Life

To achieve an earned life you must, “decide what you want that life to look like, then work as hard as necessary to make your decision come true.

A team of leaders with a self-proclaimed structure consultant sitting at a table, planning and organizing.

It is your job to create your vision of success. The hard work afterward is greatly facilitated by structure. Goldsmith has spent a lifetime as a self-proclaimed “structure consultant,” as have members of the Lean East team. We both work with leaders and teams to help them develop new and improved habits, processes, and systems.

The major action in Goldsmith’s book is his Life Plan Review. It uses the daily questions introduced in Goldsmith’s book, Triggers in a structure that provides the five building blocks of discipline.

The Five Building Blocks of Discipline

Living your earned life should be easy. All you need is discipline and willpower to follow your plan and avoid distractions. Easy right?

Goldsmith learned in his work as a CEO coach that discipline and willpower are not the skills for success, they are rather the evidence that one has succeeded. He identifies five building blocks of discipline for success:

  1. Compliance refers to your adherence to external policies and rules. We are often told what we need to do (by a doctor, for example) but don’t fully comply with the instructions.
  2. Accountability is our response to expectations we place on ourselves. Accountability is hard, so Goldsmith prefers his clients publicly disclose their goals to raise the stakes (and hopefully their performance).
  3. Follow-up uses the outside world to assist with compliance and accountability. Good follow-up is supportive and helps us be honest about our progress.
  4. Measurement helps take the guesswork out of discipline. We are either hitting our goal and achieving the results we want or we aren’t.
  5. Community binds the four actions above together. A good community comes in many forms and will help, encourage, and coach discipline and results.

Lean East clients should note that the five building blocks above are all contained in the weekly meeting format we introduce and facilitate. We can agree with Goldsmith that this stuff really works!

Life Plan Review

A larger group of people all with cameras. A community of people who all enjoy photography.

Goldsmith created the Life Plan Review to help close the gap between the plans for your life and what you actually achieve.

The Life Plan Review is a simple four-step structure that works best within a community. A community could be an organization, a group of friends, or another group with a shared interest in improvement.

Life Plan Review Step 1

You and your community take turns answering these six weekly questions:

“Did I do my best to . . .”

  1. Set clear goals?
  2. Make progress toward achieving my goals?
  3. Find meaning?
  4. Be happy?
  5. Maintain and build positive relationships?
  6. Be fully engaged?

Answer each question with a score from 1 to 10 that measures your level of effort, not the results. Effort is measured because this is something you control (just like a good KPI).

Life Plan Review Step 2

A weekly calendar for the daily life plan review!

Between weekly Life Plan Review meetings, review and answer the six questions above yourself on a daily basis. Feel free to add additional questions, but don’t skip your daily review! This must become a habit as important as eating breakfast or brushing your teeth.

Here are tips on creating new habits, like a daily Life Plan Review.

Life Plan Review Step 3

Goldsmith suggests you review your plan for relevance and personal need once a week. Is your goal still meaningful to you?

Also, review the effort required to achieve your goal. The more experienced you become at the Life Plan Review the less effort it should take to do it well. Examine the goal for your life and ensure that the required effort you must take continues to be worth it to you.

If you ever stop making progress you will either need to increase your effort upwards or begin to search for a new goal.

Life Plan Review Step 4

Don’t follow the steps of a Life Plan Review on your own.

The weekly meeting with others helps ensure compliance and honors accountability. The meeting structure runs on follow-up and measurement. The community applauds success and helps share good ideas and best practices. Judgment and cynicism are not tolerated.

Goldsmith compares the Life Plan Review meeting to a round of golf with friends.

Goldsmith compares the Life Plan Review meeting to a round of golf with friends. Following the rules of the game is compliance. You follow the playing order and keep your own score. Great shots are praised by your playing partners. Poor shots are met with encouragement and possibly coaching. Players are supportive of one another as the idea is to play well, have fun, and maybe beat your own personal score.

Life Plan Reviews in Action

Goldsmith has created the “100 Coaches” group to participate in Life Plan Reviews and help one another grow. I haven’t researched this group much myself, but plan to reach out to learn more in the coming weeks. Reach out to us or leave a comment below if you are interested in hearing what we learn.

Please also leave comments about other key parts of the book, questions, or anything you feel would interest other readers. Thanks, and be well!

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