a guide to planning your best year yet + free checklist
The key to your best year yet is to have a plan. Knowing what you want to achieve and when you’re going to do it ensures you are clear on the path you want to go down, and gives purpose to your work week.
Life doesn’t have to be hard, or boring, or unsuccessful. I wholeheartedly believe we all have the capabilities to make 2017 our best year yet, a year we’ll remember forever, for good reasons.
So, let’s get planning! Grab a new, shiny notebook if you can and make it your ‘best year yet’ notebook. Get a lovely pen and write down the steps below. Physically writing them down, rather than just quickly noting them in your head, will give you the push to actually do the steps, as well as give you some accountability.
1. Reflect on the last year
The first step to planning your best year yet is to gain some clarity over the past year. Looking back at what you achieved, what you didn’t achieve, what gave you joy and what didn’t give you joy gives you a chance to compare your goals and visions for your life.
The best way to do this is to look back at your calendar, and take inventory. Evaluate how you spent each day and each month over the past year, and write down events that got you closer to your goal, or perhaps weren’t in line with them. Of course, if you haven’t detailed everything you’ve done over the year, then don’t worry. Just try to remember what you’ve done, and use this as an opportunity to start tracking your day-to-day routine. Write down everything; from the activities you do, the appointments you have, to the days you have off sick. If you note everything you do down, you’ll be able to track meticulously.
Once you’ve taken a look back at your year, write down answers to these questions in your BYY notebook (actually write them down!):
How did you do in each of the seven life categories last year? Your seven life categories could be: health, relationships, finance, career, personal / spiritual development, recreation / play, and service / contribution.
What are your overall feelings for the last year?
What did you like about last year? What did you accomplish?
What did you dislike about last year? What disappointed you?
If you could change anything about the last year, what would it be?
2. Write down your big life visions
Next, think about your life from a higher level. How do you want to be remembered? How do you want to be perceived?
Write down the big visions you have for your life (again- actually write them down!) and think of what you want to do, what you want to achieve with your time on earth. Your list can include absolutely anything you want, just make sure it reflects your deepest wants and desires.
Here some example visions (but do think of your own):
Work for yourself doing something you love
Become financially independent
Be a leading figure in your field
Be joyful and purposeful in everything you do
Writing down what you want to do in your life gives you purpose and direction, and makes sure that everything you do and set out to do will bring you closer to your vision, rather than you ending up somewhere that is completely out of line with your values.
3. Set goals
The third step is to get writing down your goals. Step two consists you of thinking of the bigger things you want to accomplish, whereas step three involves you thinking of the smaller things. Goals are boundaries; they are not necessarily values or intentions, or even visions; goals are the things that you are working for. Goals help you create boundaries that help you stay on the path for what you’re working for. When you have very specific goals, you’re able to make decisions a lot faster as you know where you’re going! They help you really focus and get to where you want to be.
To set goals, use the SMART method. Under this method, goals should be:
S — Specific
M — Measurable
A — Achievable
R — Realistic
T — Timely
This means when you create goals, they should be narrow, in writing, achievable, and have a deadline. Write your goals down. Give them a deadline. Hold yourself accountable, and make sure they’re realistic.
An example of a ‘bad’ goal would be:
1. Be more careful with money
2. Be mindful every day.
These aren’t specific enough, and you can’t measure/track them, nor can you put a deadline on them.
A good goal that follows the SMART method would be:
1. Save £500 by April putting £125 a month into savings.
2. Write in your ‘5 Minute Journal’ every morning for 2 weeks/a month/ two months to start the day in a mindful way.
These are specific, measurable, reasonable, actionable and timely.
4. Get to your ‘Why’.
Finding your ‘why’ sounds very hippy dippy but it’s so, so important. Knowing exactly why you want to achieve what you want to achieve brings ultimate purpose to your goals. Chances are, you won’t know your exact ‘why’ at the beginning of this exercise, as it takes time and some real digging to discover it. It’s important that you get to your ‘why’ because otherwise, it’ll be very tricky to accomplish your goals as you’ll have no real, tangible reason for them.
To get to your ‘why’, go back to steps two and three and ask yourself why it is you want that. Keep asking yourself, over and over, peel away those layers and you’ll find your real ‘why’.
My ‘why’ is this; I want to accomplish my goals because I want to empower as many women as I can into enterprise, I want financial freedom, and I want control over my career and life. I can’t function in a ‘normal’ job, so this is my only option. What’s your ‘why’? Write it down, big and proud, and put it where you’ll see it every day. That will be your daily reminder as to why you’re doing this, and it will keep you going when things get tough. Nothing can stop you once you’ve found your real, true ‘why’.
5. Use systems and processes to implement your goals.
If you’re a systems geek like me, this is the fun part! It’s all good writing down and planning your year, but you need to make sure you’re using systems that will help you implement your goals. Otherwise, what’s the point?! If you have systems in place already that you know will help you track your tasks + goals, then perfect. If not, here are some examples:
Use a digital calendar (Google Calendar is my go-to). It’s important it’s digital as you can then move tasks and appointments round easily. Flexibility is key when implementing your goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Use your calendar to put down real deadlines. Think of when you want that goal to be accomplished by and mark it down, to the day. This makes it a non-negotiable, and gives you some accountability.
Put monthly/weekly appointments in your calendar for ‘Goal Check-ins’. This time is for reflecting and revising your plan based on your progress. These check-ins should be treated as importantly as you would treat a business meeting.
If you’re more of a pen-and-paper gal, then get an A1 sheet of paper and write your goals with their deadlines dates next to them. Put it near your desk, along with your daily affirmations, and visualise them coming true. Then, do the work.
Planning your best year yet is a lot of fun. It’s all about living intentionally and with purpose to get you to where you need to be.
Here is a PDF checklist for this guide so you can download it, print it out and have it next to you when you’re planning the next 365 days.
You’re going to smash it!