Do you work to live or live to work? A have a friend who was on-call 24/7/365. It was in her contract. She was paid very well for the inconvenience but calls at 1 a.m. were becoming all too common. One day, during a staff meeting, her team was teasing her about how nice it must be to be in management. So, she challenged them to do the math: Her salary was broken down into an hourly wage. To everyone’s shock, she made less per hour than her hourly team members!  

That exercise set her to thinking: How did she want to live and what was her plan for getting there. In hindsight, she’d never sat down to do the basic math – life just kind of took over – and she headed in a direction that led her to being at someone’s beck and call non-stop!  

In the business world, I refer to that plan as a “sales plan,” a sort of blueprint that outlines how much money you want to earn this year and how many hours you want to work. But let’s face it, that’s not just a business concept! Take anything you want then figure out the time and money and effort you’ll put into getting what you want. Is it worth it?  

When my 24/7 friend finally walked away from her demanding gig, she created a life sales plan: What did she HAVE to pay for (mortgage, car payment, cell phone, utilities, etc)? Was there something special she was planning for (in her case, she wanted to go visit her new grandbaby in Alaska)? Then she divided the expenses by the hours she wanted to work to determine her hourly income. From there, she was able to negotiate her own time and rate with clients. Had she not worked out her priorities, goals and plans, she would be throwing out arbitrary numbers to potential clients, unable to structure her work week and unable to nail down exactly when she’d be able to fly across the country.  

My friend took it a step further and taught her teenage daughter about planning for her desires. Her daughter wanted to buy special stuff in Alaska during their planned trip. She taught the teen to map out her plan for earning, saving and spending. She even shared her own plan with her teenager, so when it came to telling her “no” about some spur-of-the-moment party or shopping spree, her daughter would see a bigger objective. 

This is basic stuff, but few of us take a moment to plan for our life – even one year at a time! Yet it’s so important! Knowing your life sales plan for a year is a baby step to larger goals like retirement or a vacation home or paying for college for your kids. Start with figuring out your life-to-work income ratio and how it all fits into what you want this year!