What If We Taught Life Planning in High School and College?

David Marshall Posted by David Marshall, CEO & CFO, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.

What If We Taught Life Planning in High School and College?

My wife Kate and I are happy to report that our newest book, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future (published by Gotham Books, a Penguin imprint – soon to be Penguin Random House) hit the stores nationwide this week. It’s on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and also available on Amazon. Hopefully the Indies will pick it up soon as well.

The BIG IDEA of the book is that you can increase your happiness by proactively shaping your future in all the major areas of life such family, friends, work, play, and lifelong learning. The simple exercises and maps in MY LIFE MAP can help you do that. The book follows the tried-and-true formula of our other prompted journals by asking questions about your past, present, and future. Based on the answers to these questions, you then create ten-year maps for the major categories (Family, Friends, Work, Learning, Service, Play), a consolidated ten-year map, and then a whole life map. For the whole life map, you name the major chapters of your life and then name the whole life. The idea is that looking at your whole life on one page, from birth date to death date, it allows you to visualize and shape your future with clarity and intention to achieve your dreams. We even created an electronic element this time so people could download additional life maps in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF to fill out on the computer or in larger formats. We updated our website to allow readers to use a special code in the book to access the electronic maps.

Here are several examples of how people in different phases of their lives might use My Life Map:

Young Adulthood

Why are so many 20-somethings ending up back home with their parents, unsure how to start their own lives?  Doesn’t it seem like they’re taking longer and longer to find their calling?

Imagine colleges required a life planning class in Senior year that would help students map out their futures? Don’t you think it would reduce the false starts and early job hopping dramatically and increase national productivity?

My Life Map allows students to take this course on their own time – tuition is only $16, the cost of the book. They end up with a whole life plan that incorporates their own goals and gives them a road map to follow.

Major Milestones

Do you know why college reunions and milestone birthdays like 30 and 40 are hard for so many people? It’s because they force us to take stock of our lives so far and we often realize that we’re unhappy with the track we’re on and aren’t sure what to do about it.

Imagine a thought-provoking seminar at every 10th or 20th college reunion to plan the rest of our lives? What might that weekend of reflection teach us? How many people might suddenly see what’s missing in their lives and then go home ready to make bold decisions to get it?

My Life Map allows adults whose life is moving too fast (or too slow) to give themselves a little life check up – what’s healthy in their lives, what’s not, and what program they are going to start to get and keep their life in tiptop shape. My Life Map is a DIY, budget life coach.

Baby Boomers

Did you know that many couples in their fifties are struggling with “What’s Next?” now that their kids have left for college and they are empty nesters?  With so much of the previous two decades devoted to raising children, many people are searching of a new purpose in life..

Imagine if community centers offered life planning classes to help people take stock of their life so far and decide how to spend the second half of their lives? Imagine if it were as natural to take life planning lessons as it is to take yoga classes or piano lessons.

My Life Map provides a simple curriculum for teachers, life coaches, career counselors, ministers, and support groups to help adults plan all the aspects of their lives in a balanced way that brings them the most happiness and purpose.  It’s never too late to shape the future.

I hope you like these examples. I have written three articles with sample life maps for well-known celebrities (sports figures, musicians, and business leaders) that I hope to share soon.

David Marshall, November 12, 2012