Design your life – The Master Plan

Now you are equipped with the five core principles of how to make permanent, meaningful changes in your life, it’s time for the doing bit.


‘If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.’

Create a clear vision

It is important to have a clear, compelling vision to keep returning to – both for when times get hard or challenging and to simply remind you of where you’re headed. So, once you have clarified your ideal life (see the exercise on pages 34–37) it’s useful to put it into the context of a longer-term plan, with goals and targets to hit along the way. When I do this with clients, we typically plan for two years ahead.

I find this far enough in the future to stop you from being overwhelmed, but close enough to create reachable goals you can aim for consistently. Even once you have made a plan, you can still be open and flexible to whatever comes up along the way. Having a clear, compelling vision acts as a great compass – if you don’t have one it is all too easy to lose focus and motivation and to give up because change starts to feel too hard.

However, if you break actions down into smaller, achievable targets and goals, you are much more likely to stay on track and keep going when things get tough (which they invariably will). Either keep the vision of your long-term goal in written form or, as I do and many of my clients prefer, create a vision board – on or offline. A vision board is simply a visual representation of the end goal and includes images and words that represent the various elements and values you will be honouring.

I created a vision board to keep me focused on my big goal during a very challenging time.

My daughter and I had been forced to leave our lovely rental house after three years. It was particularly heartbreaking because it had been our first home for just the two of us following my split from her father. We’d really made it our own and we loved living there.

It was just around the corner from her school and very close to all our friends. Due to a rise in rental prices, we had to move further out and to a much smaller flat – all for more money. It was at this point, reeling from the shock (and lack of choice), that I decided I wanted to create a more permanent, stable home for us both, but I realized I needed to save up a considerable amount of money for a mortgage deposit to do so.

Weighing up all our options, I decided to bite the bullet, and we both moved into a close friend’s spare room, from where I also ran my business. This lasted for just under a year. During this difficult time, I found creating and referring to my vision board extremely helpful. It is such a reminder of what I can cope with and achieve that I had it framed and it now hangs in my office.

‘I love the life I have while I create the life of my dreams.’

Targets and goals

Setting incremental goals and targets on the way to your end vision is essential. Smaller more manageable goals will help you stay on track. First, imagine yourself in two years’ time, living your vision – make it as detailed as possible. Then create an imaginary timeline: count down and detail the targets you need to hit along the way. Ask yourself more and more questions and go into as much detail as you can. As you progress, this will enable you to look back and see what is possible.

Block off time in your calendar

If it’s not scheduled, it’s just not going to happen. This is an issue for us all – it’s just how our brains are wired. If we don’t schedule in our exercise, if we don’t set an alarm to go to bed early (and get up the next morning for a run), if we don’t set aside time to buy in the right foods, our good intentions get sidelined by the day-to-day tasks in hand. Scientists call it ‘Present Bias’. It means we are hard-wired for immediate, quick wins, and will naturally avoid the harder, longer-term effort that bigger changes often require.

Make what you need or want to change a priority. Once you’ve decided what you need to take care of – whether it’s researching your next steps, speaking to people to get more information, or getting more sleep to help you do it all – schedule in the time to do it. Make these time slots non-negotiable. Or, as I say to many of my clients ‘Make yourself your number-one client’, protecting these time slots and not giving them up whatever happens. Guard them with your life, because actually, your life does depend upon it.

During these blocks of time, if you have the three basics handled – sleep, exercise and nutrition – you can start adding in time for any other kind of rejuvenating activity (such as sitting quietly for ten minutes, listening to music, reading an inspiring book or enjoying a funny TV show) whatever gives you rest and reward and keeps you motivated.

Seek support

You don’t have to do this alone. Change is hard, and it can often be harder when you’re struggling by yourself. Depending on your personality, you may thrive more in a group, or in a one-on-one setting (I’m a one-on-one girl). Be aware of what has worked for you in the past, and make sure you get the right support. You may also want help from an expert – someone who can help you dig deeper, hold you accountable, and help you overcome any fears doubts or insecurities that may be holding you back. To this day, I have a coach and mentor who supports me in fulfilling my dreams and goals, who is there to call me out when I am holding myself back, and who stops me from being small in life.


Create your clear, compelling vision using a big piece of card, scissors, glue and images. Date your vision, plus your targets and goals along the way. You can do this by recording the details on your phone, making notes as you go, or you can use the template below

1 Vision and date

(typically 2 years from now)

2 Vision board – written details
  • 1-year targets and date:
  • 6 months targets and date:
  • 4 months targets and date:
  • 2 months targets and date
  • 1-month targets and date:
  • 2 weeks targets and date:
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