The Pathways Planning Methodology

About Ethical Planning

Planning is a process that enables you to achieve intended future outcomes by taking a series of steps.

No planning methodology can ensure that the plan produces good results. That is up to the planner. However, if a methodology is followed where the planner considers the desires of both themselves, others who may be affected, and others who may need their help, it is more likely for the planner to undertake ethical goals. The Pathways Planning method was designed specifically to help you develop strategies that will bring happiness to yourself and other people.

The Pathways Software

You can plan using your mind and whatever tools you wish, not the least of which is a pencil and paper (to record thoughts and keep track of your progress). However, it is easier to achieve desired results if you have software that facilitates the process.

To help you do this more effectively, you are welcome to download a free copy of the Pathways Planner software, which runs on any Windows-based personal computer. This software was designed specifically to support this methodology, although it also has many other handy features that you might find useful whether you adopt the methodology or not.

The importance of planning

To have greater success, it is important to foresee potential pitfalls and prepare yourself for future opportunities. Some things are not achieved without first completing prerequisites. Moreover, when you figure out your plans and policy in advance, your decisions are more carefully considered, objective, and rational. You make more effective decisions and avoid rash actions that might lead to regret.

A journey conducted first in the mind is more likely to be successful than one conducted first on the feet.

The process

It is unlikely that you will be able to plan your whole life in advance in every detail. Therefore an iterative approach is used. You complete the whole planning cycle for a short time horizon and limited scope, and expand the time and scope on each subsequent iteration.

This is a process that never ends, because there are always new opportunities arising, things you can learn, and new ways that you can make things better for yourself and others. The process works best if you can devote a couple of hours to it each week (to review your progress and refine your policies and plans).

In your first iteration, you can prepare a plan for just yourself, but you will find that it is more effective to plan for yourself and your immediate family (if you have one). When planning for your family, it is best to do so with their participation insofar as possible (keeping in mind that babies can't participate much in planning!).

The Pathways method will help you in this very desirable mission:

Spread Happiness!

The planning process basically consists of creating advice for yourself and your family. The advice is recorded in one of two forms:

Planning Method

The recommended planning method has the following steps. Because this is an iterative process, the order in which the steps are completed is not critical. In particular, the order of steps 2 and 3 can easily be swapped; it is a matter of personal preference which to do first.


1. Set the scope: Decide on who to include in your plan and set a time horizon for planning. On the first iteration you might focus your attention on yourself and the upcoming months, with some consideration to other people. However, the greatest happiness comes from bigger achievements and from the vicarious joy of making other people happy. Therefore on subsequent iterations your plans will give greater consideration to more people in a widening circle (your family, your community, all of society) and expand the time horizon (a few years, your life, the legacy you leave beyond your life).
2. Describe the situation: For the group you are planning for (yourself, your family, or some other group), define the ongoing activities and how your time and money are being used. For yourself and others who you know very well (your family), identify how well your desires are being met and what is missing in your lives. For those you know less well, use whatever clues are available to identify things they enjoy and things that are causing them distress.
3. Make some wishes: Start be defining the ideal - the ideal you, the ideal family, or the ideal society. Consider how your own talents and the talents of the people who are planning with you can best be employed to bring this ideal to reality. List goals that would "fill the gaps" in your life. Consider what you can do to magnify the joys of other people and help them overcome any distress.
4. Find stepping-stones: Significant achievements usually do not come easily; identify the steps that might bring you closer to realizing your goals. Identify potential paths.
5. Consider Possibilities: What can go wrong? What barriers are there to success? What other stepping-stones are needed to overcome the barriers? Which wishes are realistic goals? How much time and money are needed for each stepping-stone and over what period of time?
6. Make Choices: Use Pathways to evaluate your paths. It will calculate the time commitment, the cost, the overall odds of success, and the extent to which any chosen path(s) will provide satisfaction of motivators. Select one or more paths.
7. Define policies and measures: Define the policies, or "timeless advice" that should be followed in order to effectively handle situations that may arise, in support of the desired outcomes. Define progress measures that will help you to keep on track while working toward your goals.
8. Track your progress: Carry out your plans. Record the activities you undertake, the money you spend, and the performance against your measures. Periodically review progress. Evaluate whether the anticipated results (in particular, motivational fulfilment) are occurring and refine your plans (go back to step 1).

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