Must-do for Single Parents: Create a Life Plan for 2009

Posted December 15, 2008 by

One of the most important things a single parent can do at the end of the year is to get your family involved in Life Planning.

Life planning is more than just goal-setting and new year’s resolutions. It’s about living your life next year with purpose and passion. Its foundation is based on your discovery of your fundamental happiness, and then planning the rest of your year of activities around that happiness. My good friends, Dan Harkavy and Bill Hart at have been teaching me how to do this, and I wanted to share it with you and make this coming year your “happiest” and most productive ever with you and your family.

If we discover what makes us “Happy,” we then have a direction, an action, a feeling, or an event in our lives and minds that foster motivation and inspiration with the rest of our daily activities. The first question is, “How do we capture our happiness?”

I have two exercises that I would like for you and your families to follow in helping you make this discovery. The first is called “The Life Plan” and is for the Parent. The Second sheet, called “The Simple Business Plan” is for both the Parent and children to use.

The Life Plan (Parent Only)

Step 1: Assess where you are today…Start backwards. In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey talks about having your plans, goals and vision with the “end in mind.” Picture the end result on what you want to achieve and you create better vision and clarity on your goals. Now, take this concept and build on it. I want you to picture the vision of your life. If you left the earth today, how you will be remembered? Please dedicate some time to thinking about this; trust me, the results are rewarding in many ways.

Step 2: Awareness of what’s important to you: This step is pretty easy to follow. Just take a moment and set the order of your “Emotional Bank Account” on what’s important to you. (It might be family, friends, spending meaningful time with your kids, etc.)

Step3: Clarify your vision. Really go out on a limb to cast out your predictions of the next 20-30 years of your life vision for you and your family.

Step 4: Define your purpose. There has to be purpose behind your vision. Make sure you understand the fundamental philosophy of your happiness. Just remember this formula; “Be Happy, DO the things that make you Happy, you will HAVE happy as a residual result.”

Step 5 and 6: Make your Plans. Block your time on a calendar, but this time, block your “Happiness” activities FIRST, and then plan around your other activities. Take a look at the worksheet and site the examples of going to a calendar and blocking set items that you need and want to do on a weekly calendar. Start small, and then go BIG on your mapping and planning. You can really set the time and dates that matter most to your happiness and plan the year ahead on those important, “happiness activities”.

Step 7: Read and Reflect. Once you are done with the calendar setting, make sure you’ve “built in” a time during the week to reflect and visualize the coming week’s commitments and happiness activities. Set the time aside to read your plan and assess your balance. What I like to do is to reflect on my activities on a Sunday or Early Monday.

The Simple Business Plan (Parent and kids do together.)

Step 8 : Share these goals with your kids. Have them be your “Life Coaches” who can keep you inspired, (and accountable) to live out your best year ever in 2009. A great Family activity is to build “Visualization Boards” on the coming year of “Happiness Activities”. Take out the “Simple Life Plan” and have your children map out their goals for the coming year. Build Visualization boards with them. All you will need is a couple magazines, scissors, glue stick and poster boards. Each child has to complete their Simple Business plan and paste the Plan with the visualization Board. Every Parent must build one with their child to offer support and imagination. All Boards have to posted in place (like a bedroom) where the family member can be reminded and “SEE” their daily acts of happiness and goals for the year. There MUST be a picture of the entire family AND a individual picture of that family member.

Please let me know how it goes for you. I’m looking forward to doing this with my kids in 2009, and I hope you have a chance to do a Life Plan, yourself.  And for more about Life coaching, you can go to


RJ Jaramillo is a single father of three and the founder of While facing the daily challenges of raising three children on his own after his divorce, RJ realized how few resources were available to help him during this journey. He started in 2007. RJ lives in Southern California with his family.

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  1. Ana is Single Report

    I agree that being a single parent is not that easy, thanks for this great post. I now can somehow be assure that I’ll be doing a lot of great things this year for me and my kid.

  2. Helen Report

    Thank you so much for sharing this idea with us it is wonderful and inspiring.
    these ideas will help us to orgenize our positive thoughts with the reward of a purposeful life with joy and happiness.

  3. lolahowle Report

    thanks for this inspiration! As a single mom, I seldom feel as if I’m accomplishing anything important. We have a family activity evening once a week and this will be a great topic to cover there. I want and need my son to get involved in planning to learn the skill and to feel more responsibility for getting things done.

  4. Elisabeth Report

    Single Dad, I love the idea of creating a Life Plan together. Scheduling to do stuff that makes you and your family happy — brilliant!

  5. Lisa Report

    I really like these ideas! Last year we did something similar and had a fantastic year! We put poster boards up on the wall with these titles: This Year, Next Year, Within the Next Four Years, and Within the next 4-8 Years. I gave the first two boards subcategories of the seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer. Then, through out the year, when we had an idea of something that we wanted to do “some day” or “now”, we put it on a post it note and put it on the board with the most appropriate time frame. “Going to Australia” went on the “Within 4-8 Years” board. “Taking a yoga class” went on the next season of the “This Year” board. We could move them around as opportunities presented themselves, or let them sit and simmer for now, or remove items we no longer wanted to do. Surprisingly we converted more “some day” activities into “things we have now experienced” activities and the happiness factor in our lives improved tremendously! I couldn’t believe how this simple thing, which was originally just to organize my thoughts and show my son the concept of planning and making time for things we wanted to do (he has problems with time concepts and is very impatient), ended up inspiring me and made things happen! Things I hadn’t really thought we would be able to fit in this past year just “magically” and almost effortlessly fell into place! We moved to a new house (just one of our fabulous achievements this past year I really hadn’t thought would come to fruition so soon) and I plan on doing this again this year. 🙂 It really worked well for us!



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