Now I don't know about you, but that's not really something that has worked for me in the past. Don't get me wrong, as an oganisation enthusiast, it is an idea that appeals to me greatly. But I have discovered that it doesn't lead to the best outcome.
There are a couple of reasons I have uncovered that mean setting out a whole year at a time isn't my best method. Some things I do when under that kind of pressure. I wonder if any of these feel familiar to you:
- Thinking of a whole year in one go is HUGE and overwhelming
- Putting something down only to fill a gap/complete a list
- Judging myself for not doing what I'd said I would
- Painting myself into a corner with "plans" when life serves up other opportunities (feeling I can't take those opportunities because they weren't on the list)
- Having the Critic just sitting at my table ... she's saying "yeah right" or "try harder" and a heap of things like that.
One year ago today I was planning to go to the movies with my wife. We had a rediculous arguement, which you could say "escalated". Now, as we file for divorce, pretty much nothing about my life is as I expected it.
And I love it.
So, my method of planning works for me. It's taken a while to find it, but now I can't imagine doing it any other way. I thought I'd share it with you in case you get any of those same worries when you sit down and look at your planner for the year.
How do I want to feel at the end of this year?
For me, how I want to feel is so much more important than where I want to be or have been, what I want have, have done, or any of that stuff. Last year, I wanted to get to a point where I felt strong again. And this year, it's about feeling grown-up, and feeling that I am moving forward in a strong way. Having this as my direction shapes all the other decisions.
So fast-forward in your mind and imagine it's New Year's Eve. How do you want to be feeling when you look back at the year?
Start where you are and go as far as you can see
Don't even bother thinking about how far into the year we are. Start today. And just do as much as you can. Maybe you can plan out this week in detail, and then the thought of March is just a blank page. That's cool - it will come, and you'll have a clearer picture of it when it does.
This one is my favourite. A year is a great big stretch of time, and you can start to break it into smaller parts. No, not months and seasons, but gaps of unplanned in-between planned. The first things into my diary and planner are:
- Other social engagements (weddings etc)
- Public holidays
- Other ritual days I celebrate
These events form a framework from which I can start to plan out the detail of my year. Like the lines that I can then colour inside of.
Rather than thinking of my yearly plans as set in stone, I prefer to look at them as intentions. It allows more space to dream, less space for the Critic, and more room to have adventure. If there is something you want to do, include it. It doesn't have to have all the specifics this way - e.g. I intend to go to Byron Bay in May. How, when exactly, with whom ... blah blah, I'll know closer to the time. For now, that's enough.
This is the best lesson I learned. Know what I can and can't do, know what I am likely to do. There is no point planning a whole heap of things in winter: my lovely old house is cold and I'm a hibernate kind of person. Rather than beat myself up for not completing planned tasks during July, I schedule in projects that can be done in front of the heater and TV. Because I know myself.
Revisit, Review and Reevaluate
This is kinda the most important part of my style of planning: if you're not going to write a whole plan, then you need to keep going back and adding to it.
It's also kinda the most awesome. You go back regularly (I'm once a month) and look at where you are and how you're feeling. Heading towards the way you want to feel? No? Then what do you want/need to do more/less of next month?
Set some new goals, release some old ones.
So, that's my philosophy to planning my year. It's about being really clear on the biggest goal, and then flexible and loving with the small stuff. I have a guiding light of how I want to feel, then a framework of key moments, and regular check ins. Oh, and my 100 Things to add some spice.
What do you think? Can you imagine this way working for you? What is your approach to planning for the year? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below.
P.P.S. Yes I use a heap of intuitive and spirit-lead woo woo when planning my year: looooove it!!!