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New Year Planning- 5 Key Steps

Updated: Jan 7, 2023

Welcome to my Splog! This is where a splurge of thought meets a blog, hence Splog! It could as easily have been a Thlog - thoughts mixed with a blog, but it sounded a little too like thong, and we really don't need to go there!

So here are a few of my thoughts on the practice that is synonymous with the New Year - the resolutions and goal setting that comes hand in hand with the end of one year and the beginning of another.

There are well documented systems and ways in which to set goals, and theories a plenty on how to deliver on New Year resolutions. So I'm not here to tell you how to set goals, but to share five steps I use to keep me heading to where I want to be.

Look Back

Reflection and review can be easily overlooked as thoughts race toward the New Year. But looking back can be a rewarding reminder of how far we have come.

Take a little time to go through your diary, calendar and photos,

Note the highlights, achievements and successes.

Where did you exceed your expectations?

What opportunities were gained? Can you take these further?

What ideas or opportunities were lost? Do you want to revisit these?

Ask yourself what things could have been even better if............?

Keep a simple record - a scrappy spider diagram or typed summary. What ever works for you, and use this to help direct your way forward.

I would say however, that I am an advocate for reflecting and making adjustments as you go, rather than just once a year. At the beginning or end of the seasons, or after significant events are natural reflection times for me.

Back to the Future

I have often given quite a bit of thought to my NY goals and resolutions. Commonly sharing and writing down these aspirations in a lovely, shiny new book. Only to slam the door on them by 1st Feb! Here are some interesting facts on NY Resolutions which comfort me in the fact that I am not alone! But what if we take a different approach?

James Clear challenges us to think of this:

'It's one year from now. December 2023. The habit you were hoping to build during the year didn't stick. What is the most likely reason it failed?'

One issue for me is a failure to prioritise the important but less fun goals. Life is busy and the less motivated I am to achieve something the lower down the list it goes - that's if it makes the list at all! Everything else comes ahead of it, and before I know it the day is spent!

It comes down to prioritising. Making time in the day/week to do this thing. Putting it ahead of other things I really like and find easier to do.

If it really is that important to me, then I have to give it importance!

Write your self a letter to open a year from now - put a note in your diary, saying where you safely stored the letter and leave it unopened until that date. Put what you like in the letter, it's a fun thing to do, but the point of this is to share and commit to your intentions.

When you open the letter in a year's time, you'll learn whether you've steered off course intentionally, or been been swept astray. Then you can learn why and what you can do differently next time.

Pick Three Big Rocks

I usually have a fair idea of my goals because I'm working on them throughout the year, advancing and adjusting them as necessary. But having looked back over the year I will also set three 'Big Rocks' for the year ahead!

These are stretch targets to work towards, that may take some time to achieve, and may in fact be too big to ever realise, But why not aim high and shoot for the stars? What's the worst that can happen?

Your Guiding Word

Choose a word or phrase that sums up what you want this year to be about. A word you'll check decisions and choices against. A descriptor of the life you want to live and sums up what is really important to you. Last year I chose Joyful, and the previous one I chose Practice.

Both guided my development and helped me focus on what was important to me. Think of them as short form reminders of your goals that can help keep us on course.

Getting Organised

So the goals are almost formed, soon to be committed to paper (or type). Now it's about getting the systems in place to be as organised as possible. A general clean up and clear out maybe called for, but after the Christmas shenanigans, I am not inclined to tidy up anything else til spring time!

But what is really important to me is how I organise my stream of thoughts, ideas and info. This is my system, it's not perfect and different things may work for you, but here's how I do it.

I carry a small sketch book, a few pens and glue stick with me in my bag, along with my camera phone, to capture the visual 'stuff'. I have a wealth of sketch books I work on in the studio but this little one is mobile and I always miss it if I am without it.

For written notes, info, contacts etc I use my 'notes' app on my phone. I set reminders and file them as I need to. When I have a spare 10 mins if I'm out and about, I can write a fair amount in my Notes section, so ideas and observations aren't forgotten.

Then I have my note books. A bullet journal which can be used in a wealth of ways, but I like the flexibility of the numbered pages and index section - something most books could be adapted to. This is the schedule book - firm plans, ideas, calendars are kept here. On writing this Splog I found an interesting video on Bullet Journalling - it's much more complicated than I thought and I certainly don't follow the 'regime' However, I did like this video on setting intention. 'What matters now?' was a question that resonated with me.

I use A4 lined note books for my rambling, note taking and workings out. This is the place rough copy before key ideas, notes or plans go onto my bullet journal or lap top, for development into blogs, posts, workshop notes or ideas for my art practice. It's also where I pour out my unconscious writing, as I work through things. A form of 'Morning Pages', if you like.

I use coloured covered books, so I can find the latest one I'm working in! I also date the books, as I get through quite a few and use 'post it' notes to index the pages for reference.

E-organising: Having tried a few, the best electronic scheduling tool I found is ASANA. It's a flexible project management tool, which has a free basic function, which is all I need. I used Trello for a while but found ASANA better for collating info, web links and planning out next steps for workshops and news letters. It also has easy to use mobile and desktop functionality.

Be the Boss of You!

I usually take a couple of weeks to pull all this all together, often between the holidays and then polish it off in January. Whatever goals you set or systems you use, remember it has to work for you. In my world, there is no point spending more time working out the system, monitoring and measuring than actually doing the work and reaching your goals.

So there you go. I hope there are a few helpful points in this Splog! I learn a lot through sharing so if you have any tips for goal setting and getting organised, drop me a line - I'd love to hear from you.

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