If you’re anything like me, the thought of planning out an entire year may seem a bit overwhelming and this sense of dread may cause you to shy away from getting your thoughts down on paper and increasing your overall clarity for the 365 days ahead. However, not planning out what your year looks like will cause you to flounder around like a fish on a dock who has no idea how to jump back into the water.
For most people, they avoid planning out their year because they have no idea where to begin. It feels quite vast to look out into the Universe and say, “I want this“, so most people avoid goal-setting and business planning altogether.
This year, I came up with a plan so that I didn’t have to feel the same way — that the choices were endless and my arc of fire was broad. I wanted to narrow in and do everything better versus doing more, more, more. This plan enabled me to create a year that felt spacious yet full… value-driven yet manageable.
Here’s how I did it.
Step #1 – Determine Your Values + Narrow Down Your Options
I talked about the importance of choosing your values in a previous post, which you can read here. If I look at the values that I chose for myself during that exercise – Family, Love, Economic Security, Courage, Creativity, Autonomy, Trustworthiness – I could see a pattern emerge. I wanted more time to do what I love (spend time with family, create economic security, tell stories with courage, flex my creative muscles, etc.) while also having more autonomy and creating trust with those around me.
Keeping these things in mind, I looked at all of my available options and outlets and narrowed them down as much as possible so that I could facilitate these values through my work and life. This meant, for me, writing more on my blog, using my LEGO photography account as a creative outlet, telling more travel stories at Fearless Travels, writing a regular newsletter (finally!) and booking at least one speaking gig a quarter in addition to putting more passive revenue in place.
If you’re reading this and looking to start your own planning, start with the values exercise so you can get a sense of what’s truly important to you and what’s driving you forward and then narrow down your options so you aren’t trying to do everything and be everything for everyone. Both are tough to do but they’ll pay off in spades down the road.
Step #2 – Get it Down on Paper (Or, a Digital Document)
Once I had my options narrowed, I then set to work on creating a Google doc that I could reference throughout the year and use in my overall big picture planning. I wrote the chosen outlets down the left-hand side and the months across the top, broken down into weeks. This gave me a fantastic visual of where I wanted to provide value and content and the timeframe in which I wanted to do it.
Want a copy of the spreadsheet? Download it here.
I went ahead and placed into the spreadsheet everything I currently had on my plate as well as anything I knew I wanted to do for sure (timely or holiday-oriented things, for example.) This began to fill out what my year looked like and I began to get inspired for the empty spaces.
I’d recommend spending at least an hour or two on this piece alone and set a calendar reminder to look at this every Monday or Friday — whichever day works better for you for business review / adjustments.
Step #3 – Set Measurable Goals
Once you get organized and can see the big picture, set measurable goals for your business. It’s really easy to put the intangible goals down but it’s much harder to get specific about them. Even if you’re not sure why you want to grow something to a certain number, put it down on paper. It’ll give you something to work toward and over time, the benefits of the platform (or lack thereof) will be clear and you can adjust as needed.
Here are a few of mine:
- 15,000 new subscribers in 2017
- 20,000 new followers on social media
- $500/month in YouTube ad revenue
- $5,000/month in passive revenue
These are goals that I can easily look at throughout the year and measure, which will tell me if what I’m doing throughout the year is working or if I need to make some changes. Put these measurable goals on the first page of your notebook or on a Post-It note above your desk — wherever you’ll see them daily so you can keep those goals top of mind.
Planning your year doesn’t have to feel stressful if you make it fun. Put on some good music or a podcast, grab a cup of coffee (or tea!) and give yourself the gift of time and organization. Your future self will thank you for it immensely.
Also published on Medium.