“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
~ Henry Ford

“Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television.”
~ David Letterman

My Personal Strategic Plan (2012 – 2017):

Mission (why I exist)
To live a fun, purposeful, and extraordinary life, and make a positive contribution to the world by inspiring others to do the same.

Vision (what I will be)

I will be the “me” that I have always aspired to be:

    • healthy
    • well traveled
    • adventurous and sophisticated in the art and science of gastronomy
    • a leader in my profession
    • a well-rounded person
    • courageous
    • compassionate
    • artistic
    • living my life without regrets.

Guiding Principles (how I will get there)

  1. Health:  I had been living an unhealthy lifestyle for far too long. I smoked for many, many years. And after I quit, and my weight went up steadily every year. I hit rock bottom in 2011 when I ballooned up to 243 lbs. (I’m 6 feet tall). There were other health issues too. So, before I turned 40 in 2012, I decided to do something about it. In fact, I am determined to get into the best shape of my life.
    • Lose 60 pounds to get to within the medically healthy weight range for my body frame. Then, I will completely revamp my wardrobe, and look amazing.
    • I have never been able to do splits in my life. It seems like an impossible thing for me to do. Therefore, if I could do it, when I am on the other side of 40, it would indicate that I am in better shape (at least in one aspect) than I have ever been.
  2. Travel: My father instilled the concept of “seeing the world to expand my horizon” in me at an early age, and I have since lived a life of constant traveling. It is a big world, and it is filled with amazing things. I want to continue to travel far and often to experience them.
    • After living in the U.S. on and off for many years, I finally became a U.S. citizen in 2007. Before that, I had very little interest in seeing America. I was much more interested in international travels. But something in me changed after the naturalization ceremony. Now I want to learn more about my adopted country by visiting all 50 states.
    • Tango in Buenos Aires; see a football match in Brazil; practice yoga in India; set foot on all 7 continents.
    • I went to boarding school in the U.K. when I was quite young, and thus missed out on spending time with my parents when I was growing up. They live in the U.S. now and I am fortunate to be able to see them more often, and as a result, I have a strong desire to understand them more deeply. I will visit their hometowns in southern China, the places where they grew up.  This will bring us closer together on many levels..
  3. Food: We eat every day. Food should be an important part of our lives. I love it, and I want to know more about it. There is a finite number of meals I can eat in my lifetime. I have decided not to waste any one of them on junk anymore.
    • Hong Kong, where I grew up, is a food lover’s paradise, and one of my fondest childhood memories is eating the Baked Portuguese Chicken at this old school restaurant called Tai Ping Koon. I have not been back to Hong Kong in over 13 years, and I cannot help but feel very distant from my hometown. I want to reconnect with my youth by going to the same restaurant and having the same dish one more time.
    • I want to gain a deeper understanding of the art of food and eating by
      • experiencing culinary art at its highest form by dining at Chef René Redzepi’s Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark;
      • perfecting my cooking skills by designing a 5-course gourmet meals and serving it to my friends; and
      • expanding my eating horizon by trying vegetarianism for a month.

Professional: I like to mix business with pleasure and I am very fortunate that I am able to develop my day job into something I really enjoy doing.

  • I am on a tenure track, and getting tenure would present a significant milestone.
  • I am in awe of those renaissance women and men who are experts in multiple fields, and I want to be like them when I grow up (… in 5 years).
  • Publishing and presenting on 5 different disciplines would be a good benchmark.
  • Earning an additional graduate degree would help too.
  • We all love those TedTalks. I aspire to be able to deliver at least one presentation of that caliber.

Well-Rounded: I have a lot of gaps in my knowledge, and I am a very curious person. Therefore, I want to be proactive in filling those gaps that I find interesting. I will learn:

  • Thai massage
  • how to iron a shirt
  • drive a stick shift
  • CPR
  • at least one ballroom dance.

Courageous: Fear has been the stumbling block in far too many instances in my life. I accept that it is natural to be afraid sometimes, but when fear stands in the way of achieving my goals, then I must find ways to overcome it. The best way to learn is to practice.

  • There are several things where I had an unpleasant experience once, and that has deterred me from ever trying them again. I will give them a second chance to conquer my fear: skiing and camping.

There are other things that are just scary to me, but I am determined to conquer that fear: skydiving; getting upside down and doing a handstand.

Compassionate: I accept that I am by nature a selfish person, and this is a selfish goal because it makes me feel good. But if I could benefit others in the process, then it’s definitely worth doing.

Over the years, many people, including many strangers, have told me that I have a good voice and I should use it. Hence, I will record an audio book for the blind. I will mentor someone. Anyone want to be my protégé?

It always makes me happy when people compliment me, and I always feel that I don’t do that for others enough. It takes courage and humility to pay sincere compliments, and I will pay more attention to everyday situations in order to do that more.

Artistic: I have the need to create, but more often than not, I lack the discipline. This must change.

I will publish a short story, write a book, a screenplay, and create a photo essay.

No Regrets: Regrets? They are the worst!

  • Must see Leo Messi, the best soccer player in the world, play in person
  • Must have my portrait painted
  • Must play this highly addictive computer game for 2 weeks straight without distraction
  • Must hold a baby panda
  • Must value chance encounters and get to know interesting people, and finally,
  • Must successfully start a slow clap.

I am showing you my actual personal strategic plan. It is an open template for everyone. My hope is that it will inspire you to think about some of the things you would like accomplish in your life.

This is my normal, and perhaps it will be your normal too.


LeoLoMarchAbout Leo Lo
On Leo’s 40th birthday, he set out a 5-year plan to accomplish 45 things before he turns 45. This is his quest to become the person he has always wanted to be: a happy person. From traveling the globe, to conquering his fears, to living a healthy lifestyle, he seeks to live life with curiosity, compassion, and a sense of humor.

Leo is Assistant Professor/Research & Development Librarian at Kansas State University. He was selected by the American Library Association as an Emerging Leader in 2010. He has an M.F.A. in Screenwriting. His first feature screenplay, Rock Paper Scissors, placed as a Top 10 Finalists in the 2009 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. He is a yogi and a foodie and is pursuing a PhD in Human Nutrition.

See the complete list of Leo’s 45 things and follow his journey on his blog: www.45Before45Project.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/45Before45Project
Twitter: www.twitter.com/45Before45



Personal Strategic Plan/Manifesto
The 9 Manifesto Principles: http://geoffmcdonald.com/the-manifesto-manifesto/

Creating a Personal Strategic Plan: http://unclutterer.com/2008/09/16/creating-a-personal-strategic-plan/

How to Make a Life List You’ll Actually Do: A Comprehensive Guide: http://www.raptitude.com/2009/09/how-to-make-a-life-list-youll-actually-do-a-comprehensive-guide/

The Holstee Manifesto: http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about#the-manifesto


The Happiness Project: http://www.happiness-project.com/
TedTalks on happiness: http://www.ted.com/talks/tags/happiness


Be Effective and Productive
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: https://www.stephencovey.com/7habits/7habits.php
Start with Why: http://www.startwithwhy.com
Structured Procrasination: http://www.structuredprocrastination.com/


  1. Hi Leo. I am surfing the net looking for info to develop my own personal strategic life plan. I really do need a road map now. Looking at yours, I’m going to add “Guiding Principles” to my plan to keep me grounded. You’ve also spurred an idea for me to meet my travel goals. Thanks for sharing. I wish you success.

  2. Looking at it again, I love your mission statement and also how you expressed your thoughts about fear. I love your plan. I’m going to use it as a model for mine.

  3. But I also want a place where you can go beyond that. I’m takilng about the things we fear, or the questions that pop up when he hit our lows, when we need help or support making big-picture decisions. These are much more critical to our career success and happiness.

  4. its wow. personally have liked the compassionate bit of it were you also realized your personal weakness of being selfish which is ok. for some one to succeed there is need to know your weakness.

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