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Most successful professionals have, at one point in time, made a plan or list of goals that they would like to fulfill during their career tenure. It may include a business plan for an entrepreneur or a map of promotions that they would like to receive while matriculating up the ranks within their company.

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Though we tend to spend an exorbitant amount of time focused on our careers and making plans specific to obtaining success, we must ask ourselves if we allocate the same amount of time towards our personal goals as well, where could we be? I have friends who are VPs and Junior Partners on their jobs, and I also have friends who are building their own businesses. No matter the route they have taken, just about all of them have put their careers before their personal goals. Most times it is due to the feeling that we, as thirty-somethings, still have plenty of time to later focus just on us. However, that may not always be the case.

Here are four tips to make a personal life plan just as successful as your career and business plans:

1) Understand & Accept What Truly Makes You Happy:

This weekend I had a conversation with a girlfriend who has accepted that she works just to fund her lifestyle. Most times she enjoys her work as an attorney, however, she feels that her firm does not value her the way she would like to be valued. Her passion is not 100 percent in the law, as she has also entertained the idea of running a full time travel and leisure company dedicated to planning excursions for professionals who want to get away.

She has accepted the though she does not always like her job, it is a means to an end, so she can travel to Dubai, Singapore, Australia, etc., whenever she feels like it. She has decided that her ability to travel makes her happy and she is willing to do whatever she has to do, even if it means staying put at a 9 to 5 job for now, in order to see and experience other cultures worldwide. The personal life she has carved out for herself makes her happy.

2) Seek Balance:

I decided years ago that I wanted to work from home. I have no interest in commuting everyday and I actually enjoy being able to wash dishes and do laundry during my “lunch hour.” I feel that I have more control over my time and if work ever has to come in between my play time and vice versa, I harbor no resentment, because I am in control of the work I do and when I do it. Point blank, I realized a long time ago that I needed balance.

Whether your balance is catching up on your favorite television show or novel while on the train to work, or taking a walk during your lunch hour, plan that out and do it. Having balance aids in keeping the work related “crazy” to a minimum so you may be your best on the job and also be your best you outside of the workplace.

3) Make a Plan:

I am Type A, and a majority of my friends are Type A control freaks as well. We make plans months in advance because we like to know how our days will pan out–even three months from now. Many of us in the workplace are strict with keeping up with a work calendar from Monday to Friday, but fail to plan on our days off. I understand that some of you “go with the flow” types may actually shun the idea of being tied down to anything on the weekends or making plans either, however, planning your personal time in advance may allow you to keep the business on the weekends to a minimum.

If you plan to sleep all weekend, then put it in your calendar. I have accidentally committed to events, work and social activities I didn’t really want to participate in because I completely forgot to put in my calendar that ALL I am doing that weekend is laying on the couch and watching television.

4) Think of the Big Picture:

If you know you want to start a business, learn a new language, start a garden, learn how to knit, date more often, or improve your jump shot on your personal time, make a plan for it, even if you do not plan to begin until five years from now. Where do you see yourself on a personal level in one, five and/or 10 years? Write that vision down and tape it to your refrigerator or frame it and put in on a wall in your room. Never negate what is in your heart because you are too focused on work. It may cause you to resent your job, employer and co-workers. Live a little!

Rashida Maples, Esq. is Founder and Managing Partner of J. Maples & Associates ( She has practiced Entertainment, Real Estate and Small Business Law for 9 years, handling both transactional and litigation matters. Her clients include R&B Artists Bilal and Olivia, NFL Superstar Ray Lewis, Fashion Powerhouse Harlem’s Fashion Row and Hirschfeld Properties, LLC.

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