In my junior year at college, I realized that the complexity and length of assignments in my math and computer science courses were increasing and because of this I needed a way to stay “engaged”. In a similar vein to “war operations” (e.g. Operation X, etc.), I decided to associate a creative title to these assignments (projects). Interestingly enough, I found that this naming strategy actually helped me succeed.

Soon after this realization, I decided to expand this concept for tracking and improving my life. The advancement framework that has allowed me to continuously “shift course” is called “Planescape” (named – interestingly enough – after an innovative game expansion for the popular “Dungeons and Dragons” roleplaying game).

Planescape is an advancement framework that gives me the ability to partition my life into discrete segments by which I can continuously learn and develop.

Used now for more than a decade, this methodology accelerates advancement by dividing life experiences into goal-centric slices of time – furthermore known as Planes and Phases.

Each “plane” is a macro view into that particular time period – typically spanning 2-3 years. “Phases” within each plane help to offer a micro view. The creation of new phases and planes are dictated solely by life experiences that warrant a shift. The strategy here is to avoid the all-too-common “New Year’s Resolution” and instead, utilize a model that allows one to shift into a different “mind set” at a time that makes sense to do so. I’ve found this to be very powerful.

While the division of life experiences into discrete “blocks” is not necessarily new, the underlying principles of core planning, setting explicit short-term and long-term goals, and continuously reviewing progress is where this framework can make a real positive impact in one’s life. Continuous reinvention is the key!

Furthermore, the framework is expandable to allow for new ideas and development concepts.

One such idea introduced over the past several years is Advancement Focus Areas, or AFAs. AFAs are essentially miniature operating models. They encapsulate numerous elements including timelines, goals, success criteria, and relevant supporting materials. AFAs allow one to gain structure from the very beginning, so that the participant can immediately start operating within the model. They are not as robust as a pure business model, but they can be expanded to accommodate business model elements (if applicable).

Another key aspect of Planescape involves the development of formal annual reports, which exhibit the same level of professionalism as produced by many Fortune 500 companies. These reports are designed to summarize the results from a given Plane to assess progress.

Finally, the Planescape advancement system is bound together through a central mission statement and underlying goals – the following are ones I have continuously refined over several years:

Mission Statement: “To accelerate the advancement process through strategic learning and effective planning.”


  • To establish new intellectual, creative, and physical limits.
  • To ensure that the learning methodology utilized is always improving and further accelerating the educational process.
  • To ensure that opportunities are always available, even at an intermediate level.

As this is a summary of the Planescape “foundation”, future posts will show how the system has evolved and continues to evolve.