How do you plan your year?
It’s a question I’ve been wondering a lot. Is there a way to set up for a productive and prosperous year ahead? What can I do NOW to set myself up for success later?
If you’re pondering these things too, read on for wonderful year planning tips and tools that help us all plunge into 2021 focused and ready for action!
This post contains affiliate links, and I earn a commission at no cost to you. See my disclaimer for more info.
But first and foremost, make sure you set aside a clear (uninterrupted) time to get this planning done! After all…
“An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.”Dale Carnegie
This post includes:
- The power of reflection to move forward
- How to set big goals (and break them down)
- Set up your ideal day, week, and month
- Other awesome year planning tools
1. Reflect on the Past Year
First, reflection is one of the most underused tools to 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, so that you can change the game with your new year planning.
3 Big Wins & 3 Areas of Growth
Begin with writing down three successes you had from the last year and 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 to what didn’t go well. 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 some ideas for life categories:
- Friends & Community
- Partner relationship
- Health (both physical and mental)
- Living Environment
- Personal Development (habits, routines, learning, etc.)
- Fun, Travel, Leisure
Look Closely at How You Spend Your Time
Then, 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 successes? 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 show that? Ask this question for any priority that means a lot to you!
Use Year Planning Questions
Finally, sometimes it helps to have direct questions that help you see something you would have otherwise missed.
So, answer these questions in your journal:
- What was my biggest discovery this year?
- Where did I grow this year? Am I stronger, more resilient, etc.?
- 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?
*It’s important to note that this was a tough year for many of us. Perhaps because of outside circumstances, things 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, on to the year planning!
2. Make Big Goals for the Year
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 with it.
So now, use the information you collected from your reflection, and make goals for the new year that help you get 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.
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-term one month or three-month goals (these can feed into your bigger goal if you’d like).
Now, brainstorm your process.
What will you need to do in the next four to twelve weeks to reach these amazing goals?
What will you need to learn to make them happen?
*For help with family goals ideas, see this BIG list of family goals examples!
Choose Your Most Important Goal
When you’re all finished, it’s likely that you’ll 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 because it’s the most important to you. Zooming in on one predominant goal will help you to 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
3. 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.
Schedule Your Day
Next, use the daily block schedule template to SCHEDULE IN how you will accomplish your highest priority goal. 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.
Schedule Your Week & Month in the Calendar
On to our calendars! The calendar is for the nitty-gritty. Now that you’ve scheduled a beautiful day with what matters most to you, 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 reoccurring every year, then you only have to do it once!
What anniversaries do you want to remember? Do the same as birthdays and get it in your calendar and reminders.
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 and possibly a reminder too. Check out my ebook for awesome year-round holiday tradition ideas!
What are your major appointments for the year? Schedule your dentist appointments, well-child visits, pet vaccinations, and any other routine check-ups now. Get them ready to go on your calendar and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and stress later.
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!
Next, plan out your vacations ahead of time (so they actually 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 something FUN to look forward to in the coming 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 on a weekly or monthly basis to keep you at your best.
Not sure what self-care practices will benefit you? Sign up for 50 easy ideas and a checklist!
Anything Else Important to You
And finally, schedule in anything else that matters to you or correlates with one of your goals. Church activities, fitness appointments, and date nights are all great new year planning examples.
More Inspiring 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.
Make a Vision Board
Make your goals come to life with your own unique vision board! Visualization is an unbeatable skill for creating your future. So, put together inspirational images and sayings that help move you forward.
For more on vision boards, read:
- A Vision Board Template (& How to Make an Amazing Board)
- Sayings & Quotes Perfect for Your Vision Board
- Positive Affirmations for Women
Write a Vision Statement/Document
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 simply 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, write in present tense and use the document or plan to create yearly, quarterly, and monthly deadlines/goals.
Start a Habit Tracker
Uplevel your habits this year! Try improving one small habit per month. Use this habit tracker printable to establish your progress!
Here are ideas:
- Deep work (instead of doing busywork)
- Eating more salads
- Cutting back on meat
- Hugging the kids (kissing your partner, saying I love you, etc..)
- Working out
- Expressing gratitude
- Preparing food at home instead of eating out
This is just a sample. There are so many small, yet amazing habits that build over time! Ideally, work on habits that correlate with your overall goals from above!
See more ideas at: The Giant List of Habits to Change Your Life
New Year Planning 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 and incorporate those goals?
- Did I schedule out 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.)
Something to Consider With Year Planning
Finally, allow for flexibility. As 2020 has taught us, things happen outside of 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 goals. It’s about patience and consistency. And as an extra bonus, give yourself a small (healthy) reward when you hit your goals.
Don’t let your efforts go unnoticed!
What are your favorite new year planning tools and tips?
Other Personal Development Posts to Enjoy…
- A Free Brain Dump Template to Ease Anxiety
- Empowering Books for Women
- How to Improve Your Quality of Life