Life project: what is it and what are its most important elements?

Everyone has to face, at some point in their life, situations that pose an adaptation challenge. Such moments can seem fragmented, separated by the interlude of everyday life.

However, a more detailed look shows us the invisible links that unite them in a broad and congruent panorama, which is the very experience of being in the world. This tacit relationship gives meaning to the personal project that each of us traces for his own existence, as a common thread that mobilizes efforts and gives each act a transcendent value.

In this article we will talk about what the life project isUnderstand this as the flexible script that everyone provides for the time they have available, and which results in the congruence between what is and what is done.

    What is a life project

    A life plan can be defined as a fundamental plan of existence. In its development, a series of variables must be taken into account, such as needs or objectives, which may or may not coincide with the expectations that the environment places on us. A life project is a task in permanent construction which follows a certain continuity, but adapted to the situation of each moment.

    Life projects mobilize action and position it in a particular direction based on significant milestones, integrating values ​​with legitimate personal aspirations. It is a process that does not adhere to a static sequence, but stretches over the years and carries a clear intention or purpose. It is a path full of satisfaction, but it also allows the possibility of staggering.

    Why a life project is important

    A life project is essential, above all, because it targets one of the most basic needs of human beings: self-actualization. This process prioritizes the essential over the accessory, identifying the decisions that give meaning to your lifestyle. This distinction is part of a clear plan of action, which dilutes the ambiguity to which the general convulsion of the environment exposes us.

    Life projects also contribute to the construction of identity, as a person is largely what he spends his time (his actions). Through this analysis, we can determine which actions are consistent with a deeper sense of who we are, rather than erratically engaging in a myriad of activities that have no connection with our values ​​or needs.

    Likewise, life projects reinforce the so-called intrinsic motivation, Which moves our effort away from external incentives (economic, social or other). Because it allows us to determine which goals are meaningful to us in the long run, we are much less likely to succumb to boredom when obstacles arise that prevent or hinder immediate achievement.

    Finally, the life project allows us to equip ourselves with a greater knowledge of oneself, because its conception involves a careful exploration of the how and the why. This research, which has an important introspective component, often goes unnoticed by people who engage in an overwhelming body of actions that alienate them from themselves. Viktor Frankl called the discomfort that arises in this circumstance as noogenic depression, that is, emotional upheaval in the face of the loss of meaning.

    Next, we will dive into the basics on which a life plan should be based.

    What are its fundamental aspects

    We propose five fundamental elements for the design of a life project, the analysis must be developed in parallel: reality, needs, objectives, values ​​and application. They are all interconnected and should not be seen as independent realities.

    1. What is my reality right now?

    If the coordinates of the life project may suggest that it is at some point in the future, the truth is that they must be sustained in the reality of the present as it is. This reality is the foundation from which all of its fundamental dimensions must be considered.. Otherwise, we risk getting lost in the incompatibility between what we want to achieve and the objective framework in which we find ourselves.

    One of the hallmarks of life is that it is subject to ceaseless, sometimes unpredictable change, so it doesn’t make sense to think that a plan of action can always be implemented in the same way as it was originally designed. The physical resources, the people who accompany us, and even what we are in ourselves, are subjected to the perpetual flow in which all things oscillate. Change is therefore the only constant.

    Our personal life project must be inextricably linked to the time before which it unfolds, assuming nuances in time but always retaining its essence. This purpose must be one more part of the identity, and just as it varies without losing sight of who we really are, so must our purpose. It is flexible but durable. Despite the ups and downs of change, it will still make sense.

    2. What are my needs?

    Identifying your own needs is a difficult processBecause we have often come to confuse them with what desires really are. Although it may seem that the difference between them is only a grammatical question, the failure of each of them has different consequences: if a need is not satisfied, we fall into despair, while if a desire is prevented the emotion will be more easily managed (nose, for example).

    The most basic needs of human beings are physiological and those which provide us with security, as both are essential for survival. From there we can find those of the affiliation, through which we strengthen the bonds with the people who allow us to find a social space for development. Finally, at the very top of the pyramid that Maslow himself designed, rise those that are unique to our species: satisfaction and self-realization (both linked to a good life plan).

    Detecting needs involves recognizing what is really peremptory to satisfy one of these dimensions, otherwise it would only be a desire. The ability to distinguish between the two is essential, as it avoids introducing illusory goals that take time and are unsatisfactory.

    3. What are my goals?

    A goal is a goal that we consider important in staff, based on the current situation and perceived needs. It is common that goals are not defined precisely, so that desirable outcomes are projected but the actions that will facilitate their achievement (or the tools that will need to be provided) are unknown. Clearly identifying what we want to achieve is the first step in acting on it.

    Another problem we may encounter is building goals that are too large, which will require excessive time or effort, thus assuming a high risk of giving in in our attempt to achieve them. The most effective in these cases is to break the goal down into affordable, short-term steps; so that each advance brings us closer to the set ultimate goal, reinforcements are obtained periodically and the feeling of personal efficiency is increased (belief that I am capable of achieving it).

    4. What are my values?

    Values ​​constitute the position that the person assumes on key aspects of his life, And the weight is much more important than what can be attributed to the opinion. Values ​​are intertwined in multiple areas of daily life and are one of the most fundamental reasons people make a strong and lasting commitment. Thus, an analysis of our deepest convictions will allow us to outline a life project that corresponds to them, which will bring back a feeling of congruence.

    When people accomplish something that violates their values, cognitive dissonance occurs: a difficult confrontation between what we think is right and how we act, which can lead to guilt and anxiety. It is not uncommon for people who act against their values ​​to feel really bad about it, which means a sense of loss. in the medium and long term.

    This fact is usually due to the assumption of values ​​which are not really our own and we do not experience them as if they were, but were imposed by others during our individual development. In this case, it is possible that the meaning of our life meets the demands of the social environment, while ours takes a painful background. It is not easy to detect this circumstance, often experienced as a sort of existential void.

    5. How can I do this?

    Once all the previous steps have been clarified, the person is in a better position to develop an appropriate life plan, which must meet the following fundamental characteristics: be respectful of the current situation, cover real needs, be composed of affordable successes and correspond to our values. With all this, we will be willing not only to design it, but also to put it into service.

    Every plan of life is made up of little thingsThe cumulative effect is what channels it to great feats, which are glimpsed after the skyline as a resolvable promise. It is important to persevere in our efforts and to be flexible in the face of changes that arise, as a project of this magnitude is subject to changing needs at each stage of the life cycle.

    Finally, it is also important to learn how to give up. Life is subject to encounters, reunions and loss; and all must be integrated into the staff on which it operates. Letting go of what hurts us or keeps us from moving forward can be as difficult as finding what makes us happy.

    Bibliographical references:

    • Barbosa-Martínez, R., Ramírez-Aranda, JM, Salazar, B. and Benavides-Torres, R. (2017). Adolescent Life Project: A Conceptual Analysis. International Journal of Social Science Studies, 4 (5), 31-37.
    • Rojas, A. and Suárez, A. (2017). Life project: perceptions and experiences associated with social assistance students in virtual mode. Procedia, Social and Behavioral Sciences, 237 (21), 150-156.

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