How to Plan Your Next Year to Elevate Your Life + Free Checklist!

Plan your next year with a step-by-step guide that helps you clarify your goals, prioritize your schedule, and make room for your greatest year ever.

This article sets you up for a productive and prosperous year ahead. It tells you what to do NOW to have many successful months.

So, plunge into the new year ready for action!

new year planning checklist, plans for next year

Pro Tip: Set aside a clear (uninterrupted) time to get this next year planning done! Try to find a quiet space.

“An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”

Dale Carnegie

Reflect on the Past Year

First, reflection is one of the most underused tools for success!

So many of us fly through our years without stopping to evaluate the good, the bad, and the ugly. But how can you celebrate your wins or learn from mistakes if you refuse to notice them?

Check out these four easy steps to skyrocket your awareness and can change the game with your new year planning.

new year planning pin, plan your next year now

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3 Big Wins & 3 Areas of Growth

Write down:

  1. Three successes you had from the last year
  2. Three areas in your life that need work.

It’s ok if it’s generalized at this point and you don’t have to have all the answers. Just decide what worked and what didn’t. This gets the brainstorming started.

Scale Your Life

Next, pick a number on a scale from 1-10 for the important categories of your life. For example, perhaps you’d score your health at 8 out of 10, but your relationships at 5 out of 10. Whatever your score, be honest with yourself.

Here are ideas for life categories:

  • Family
  • Friends & Community
  • Partner relationship
  • Health (both physical and mental)
  • Work/Career
  • Finances
  • Living Environment
  • Personal Development (habits, routines, learning, etc.)
  • Fun, Travel, Leisure

Look Closely at How You Spend Your Time

Next, look back through your planner and calendar for the last year.

How did you spend your time? Look at the days, weeks, and months.

Did it align with your overall goals and values? Did it produce success? Did you fall short?

If family was a high priority, does your calendar show that? If getting out of debt was a high priority, does your planner verify? Ask this question for any priority that means a lot to you!

Use Year Planning Questions

year planning tools, journal questions on a table

It can also help to use direct questions that uncover hidden habits and behaviors.

So, answer these questions in your journal:

  • What was my biggest discovery this year?
  • Where did I grow this year? Am I stronger or more resilient?
  • What did I learn about myself this year?
  • In what area do I need to improve my knowledge, skills, or abilities to become better?
  • What did I put off this year because it made me uncomfortable or scared?
  • Did I make a positive impact on others this year? How so?
  • What do I love doing? Am I incorporating that into my life?
  • What matters most to me moving forward?

*Perhaps because of outside circumstances, your past year did not go as planned. It’s ok to let it go. Make space for the new. After all, that’s what a fresh year is all about!

Now that we gained awareness, let’s plan your next year right!

Make Big Goals for the Next Year

make big goals with your new year planning and plans

Before we get to the calendars and planners, let’s remember that this is our one and only life. It does not serve us or anyone we love to play small.

1. Use the information from your reflection and make goals for the new year that get you outside of your comfort zone. Stretch enough that you’ll have to push yourself to get there. Because you CAN do anything if you believe you can.

2. Then, scale down your larger audacious goals.

Often, a year is far too much time for a goal (which is why most people give up on their New Year’s resolutions). Instead, create shorter one month or three-month goals that feed into your larger ones.

3. Now, brainstorm your process. How will you get there? What will you need to do or learn?

*For help with family ideas, see this

Choose Your Most Important Goal

When you’re all finished, you’ll likely have multiple goals.

So, decide on ONE defining goal that takes priority over the rest. What you do to achieve this goal happens before anything else. Zooming in on one dominant goal will help you focus and prioritize, instead of multitasking and losing steam on all of them.

For more on goal setting, check out 11 Steps to Achieving All Your Big Goals

Set Up Your Ideal Day

Now that we’ve reflected and created goals, what does your ideal day, week, and month look like according to those priorities?

Establish a Routine to See Those Goals Daily

“Five days a week, I read my goals before I go to sleep and when I wake up. There are 10 goals around health, family, business, etc., with expiration dates, and I update them every 6 months.”

Daymond John, Founder and CEO of FUBU

First, the entrepreneur from Shark Tank looks at his goals every day, and we should too.

So, establish a morning routine (or night routine) when you SEE or write down your goals every day. It’s a quick step, but it will keep what’s most important to you at the forefront of your mind going into the day.

Set Up Your Successful Day (Plans for Next Year)

time blocking pdf, clock because time is important

Next, use the daily block schedule template to SCHEDULE IN how you will accomplish your highest priority goal.

Pro Tip: The earlier in the day you can take care of your goal, the better. After your highest goal is taken care of, schedule the rest of your goals and priorities into your day.

What does your ideal day look like when you’re following through with your dreams?

The productivity planner is also a priceless tool to do this. It guides you daily by having established spots for your top three priorities. You only move on to lesser activities once you’ve completed those.

how to plan your next year in advance

Schedule Your Week, Month, & Year

On to the calendars! The calendar is for the nitty-gritty. Now that you’ve scheduled a beautiful day, fill in the dates that you HAVE to remember going into the year.


Mark down all important birthdays now, and schedule a reminder in your phone a week ahead if you need to buy a gift or send a card. You can set up another reminder the same day to send a quick text.

If you set this as recurring every year, then you only have to do it once! (See things to do for birthdays for ways to celebrate)


What anniversaries do you want to remember? Do you know you want to do something special for your anniversary? Book that outing or hotel stay now!

Then, get it in your calendar and reminders.


Next, mark down and set reminders for major holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.

Also, mark what holidays the kids will be out of school for. And if you have a fun family tradition that takes a little prep work, schedule that into your calendar too.

Check out my ebook for awesome year-round holiday tradition ideas!

Set Up Appointments

annual year and yearly planning checklist printable to download, plans for next year

What are your major appointments for the year? Schedule your

  • dentist appointments
  • well-child visits
  • pet vaccinations
  • specialty medical appointments
  • and any other routine check-ups

Get them ready to go on your calendar and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress later.

Pro Tip: Make these re-occurring if possible to save you LOTS of scheduling time.

Mark Time Off of Work

Here’s the deal. We live in a society that values work over many other things. And this often leads to burnout. (Not to mention chasing the wrong things.)

Whether you work for an employer or for yourself, schedule your time off NOW. Make sure you utilize your vacation days. Plus, you can take advantage of those three-day weekends when the kids are out of school because you planned ahead!

Plan Your Next Year Travel

Next, plan out your vacations ahead of time (so they happen!). This can be as simple as camping and as extravagant as a getaway to Mexico. But by scheduling and booking ahead, you’ll have the grunt work done and a happiness booster to look forward to in the coming year.

Make Self-care Plans for Next Year

Do you make your mental and physical health a priority? It should be!

Schedule weekly yoga sessions, massages, workouts, outings with friends, or anything else that needs to happen to keep you at your best.

Not sure what self-care practices will benefit you? Sign up for 50 easy ideas and a checklist!

self care sign up

Related Posts:

Plan Your Year: Anything Else Important to You

And finally, schedule in anything else that matters to you or correlates with one of your goals.

Things like:

Inspiring New Year Planning Tools

Yay, the nuts and bolts of the work is done! Now, let’s look at how to make your year planning inspire and motivate you.

Reach for the Stars With a Vision Board

how to make a vision board, free template printable pdf

Make your goals come to life with your unique vision board! Visualization is an unbeatable skill for creating your future. So, put together inspirational vision board sayings and images that help move you forward.

For more on vision boards, read:

Write a 5 Year Plan

Alternatively, write a vision statement or letter of how you want your life to look in a year (or longer).

My husband and I revise a five year plan every December. It’s a document that reminds us where we want to be headed and forces us to evaluate if we’re on the right path (we aren’t always!).

We like that the time frame is a little farther out because it enables us to plan ahead.

For example, we want to take bigger trips as our kids get older, and looking ahead helps us figure out how much money we’ll need to save between now and then.

For a vision statement or family mission statement, write in present tense and use the document to create yearly, quarterly, and monthly deadlines/goals.

Start a Habit Tracker

free habit tracker printable

Uplevel your habits this year! Try improving one small habit per month. Use this habit tracker printable to establish your progress!

Here are ideas:

This is just a sample. There are so many small, yet amazing habits that build over time! Work on habits that correlate with your overall goals.

See more ideas at: The Best List of Habits to Have

Free Planning for Next Year Checklist

Finally, here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’ve planned for the best year EVER!

  • Did I reflect on my last year?
  • Did I set ambitious goals for the year as well as the next month?
  • Did I set out a daily plan to review those goals?
  • Did I schedule my weekly and monthly calendar with the necessary tasks of life (as well as goals!)?
  • Did I utilize other tools to make my goals come to life? (Vision board, 5 year plan, etc.)
plan your best next year ever with the free printable year planning checklist pdf

To Consider With New Year Planning

Finally, allow for flexibility. Things happen outside our control.

Regardless of outside circumstances, enjoy the journey. Understand that it’s less about the goals themselves and more about who you become as you chase your dreams. It’s about patience and consistency.

And as a bonus, give yourself a small (healthy) reward when you hit your goals.

Don’t let your efforts go unnoticed!

What are your favorite ways to plan out your next year?

Other Personal Development Posts to Enjoy…

How to Make Plans For Next Year in Advance

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