Instead of our regularly scheduled program, this week I am going to open my planning sessions for the new year.
I’ve been working through my planners, and I remain convinced this is the best thing I can do for myself as I go into the new year. I don’t do resolutions, because those end up being more things to be ignored on the task list. I don’t do firm goals, because things change, and I don’t want to be tied to something that is no longer in my best interest. And I don’t have a life purpose or a mission statement that drive things organically in my life.
But at the same time, I feel like I need a road map.
And that’s where planning comes into play.
The Tools For Success
My tools for success on this journey are simple:
- The Personal Incredible Life Planner
- The Business Incredible Life Planner
- My NeuYear Calendar
- Gel pens, with a healthy dose of glitter
- Dry erase markers in fun colors
- My someday lists
Why? Why not just some paper and a pen? I could do this. But to me, this work touches the core of my being, and I do better with deep work when things are pretty. That’s just me. I like fun forms. I like fun quotes. I was never into the dull and boring planner pages in their faded greens, each day exactly the same as the others.
So I’m not saying you can’t do it with those tools. I’m saying I can’t.
You should use exactly what you need to use to get the job done. And if that means a standard planner, go for it. If it means colorful graphics and glitter pens, I’ll make room for you on this bench.
The planners, I learned early on, need time and space for me to reflect. I don’t work through them from cover to cover, but I work what appeals to me within the two parts: looking both backwards and forward.
So while any of the review of the last year is outstanding, I work on whatever jumps out at me until I get it done. Then I move to the new year.
I always sit somewhere comfortable and quiet. I make sure I have my pens with me, and usually a cup of something comforting (tea, cocoa). I take my time, conscious that there are no right answers. And I try to make it as fun as possible.
Using the Planners
There are a few things I love about these planners:
- They are colorful. I dislike boring tools
- They lead me. Both backward and forward, the questions have me looking at aspects I might not consider.
- I look back as well as forward. It is important to realize what I have accomplished.
- They cover all areas of my life. Too many planners focus on just business. Well, there’s more to my life than my job. Or my blog. I need to look at everything so I don’t become lopsided.
- I create reminders. Too many tools take one through a process and then end up on a shelf, never to be looked at again. These planners encourage me to make dreamboards, lists of habits and other things that I can put up where I see them every day. I also make a painting of my word of the year that hangs above my desk so I remember what to focus on.
What Planning Gets Me
I don’t have big life goals. I don’t know what my life purpose is. Mission statements give me hives. Roles make me feel claustrophobic.
Yet without planning, I get nothing done. Sure, I might have read four dozen books in a year, but does that get me any closer to publishing one of my own? Without some direction, my fondest daydreams will not happen. I know myself too well for that.
Since I am directionally impaired (my husband has said I can get lost in a closet), I liken that to me going somewhere without any idea of where I am going. I could be going the wrong direction. I could be driving around in circles. I could be driving past the very place where I want to go, oblivious to what is there.
Planning gives me not specific instructions, but rather an overview of what is out there, and a gentle shove in that direction. It doesn’t force me to a specific path, but gives me the options of how to get where I want to go.
So I’ve looked back, and I’ve let go. I’m now looking forward.
That’s the whole beauty of this process. I’m laying out my landscape and figuring out how to make it happen. Without this planning, I would just be meandering about, probably going in circles, and not getting where I want to be.
Photo by Horia Varlan