Many folks were requesting that I share about how I plan out my upcoming year after sharing about it on Instagram. So I’m going to walk you through how I plan out the upcoming year that helps me to plan goals. Now, you’ll notice that actual goal-setting is just a small part of this and it comes after I’ve done the deep dive stuff. So don’t go jumping to the goals part and missing the other stuff, because that “other stuff” is actually the important stuff.
The items you need for this exercise is a notebook (preferably one with a bunch of blank pages) and your favorite pen! That’s it!
I have a major love/hate relationship with this part of my annual review and goal-setting process. I love getting real with myself and the direction I’m heading in but I also don’t like to own up to the things that aren’t going well. But owning up to those things is crucial for determining the direction my next year should go. I do this for both my personal life and my business, but if you don’t have a business you could do this for your career, ministry, or school life.
Here’s what you’re going to do – you’re going to turn to a blank section in your notebook, and you’re going to write on the left side, “Personal Reality Check” and on the right side “Business/Career/Ministry/School Reality Check”. Then, I ask myself three questions (for both Personal and Business).
- What is going well?
- What is NOT going well?
- What needs to change?
I take my time with these questions. I answer them honestly because I believe that it is important to recognize the stuff that is going wrong along with the stuff that needs to change.
Then right after I complete this exercise I ask myself this question, “what is the one thing I want Jesus to do for me in 2020?” Being a person of faith it’s important for me to know what my on-going prayer for the upcoming year should be and that’s easily determined after doing this exercise.
Envision the Future
This next part is kind of fun! You’re going to envision your life at the end of the upcoming year. So since I’m writing this in 2019 I’m going to be envisioning my future self on 12/31/20. So all of these questions below are based on what life is going to be like on December 31, 2020 – not the current day’s life.
- What is your age?
- Anniversary (how long will you have been married if applicable)?
- Age of children (if applicable)?
- What are the major milestones that you have hit?
- What are you most proud of?
- What you have accomplished?
- How do you feel?
- What is a typical day like for you?
I know that it may seem kind of strange walking through this exercise but by envisioning your future-self it sets you up for making goals that you actually want to achieve. Also, it makes you way more likely to achieve those goals because you have now given yourself a mental picture of what you’re heading towards.
Nothing but the facts, Jack.
The next thing I do is a little goofy, but also super helpful in identifying what my goals should be for the next year. I once again turn to a blank section in my notebook and right on the left side “In 2020…(Personal)” and on the right side “In 2020…(Business)”. Then I list out a bunch of “facts” or rather things that I want to be facts about me, my family, my life, my business by the end of 2020.
For example, under “In 2020…(Personal)” I may have listed out:
- I am happy.
- I am healthy.
- I am loved.
- I am physically invested in the lives of my friends.
- I have a regular mom’s night out.
- We have 10% saved in our “home fund”.
- We have increased our emergency fund by 15%
- We have maxed out our IRA contributions for the year.
The goal here isn’t to have a whole bunch of stuff just listed but to have stuff that matters be listed. For instance, I realized going through this exercise that I was seriously lacking real connections with my friends. Sure we communicate almost every day via technology but we haven’t physically seen each other in over a year! I realized that was something I needed to make a priority in the upcoming year.
Picking a Theme
Everybody and their mama is going to be talking about their “theme” for the year here real soon. And before you go thinking that we’re going to create some fluffy little theme, we’re not. You’re going to be picking your year’s theme based off everything you just completed. You’re going to look back through your reality check, your future vision of the upcoming year and your “facts” for the year.
What themes are you picking up?
For me, the theme I kept picking up was comfort – I’ve been way too comfortable here lately. I haven’t been challenging myself as I need to in order to grow. So my theme for 2020 is breaking out of my comfort zone. Once again, as a person of faith after I pick out my yearly theme, I go through my Bible and jot down a few verses that correlate to my theme to help me throughout the year.
Then, I move on to the next exercise…
Envisioning Your Future Part Deux
Now that you have your theme for the year picked out, you’re going to envision your future self once again on 12/31/2020 but through the lens of your theme. So with your theme written down, answer the following questions in relation to your theme.
- Picture your life being richer because of your attention to your theme.
- At the end of 2020, what will make you smile as you look back over the year?
- What is your assignment for this particular time of your life?
- What is missing right now? What does your heart yearn for? What is the cry of your heart right now?
- Is there a way 2020 needs to be balanced?
Identifying Your Priorities
Let’s move on to identifying your priorities because the truth is if you don’t define what is and what is not important to you someone else will. While you’re going through this process remember that you can’t be all things to all people nor do you have unlimited availability. You will have to tell some folks “no” and you will have to decide what is important enough to say “yes” to.
- What are the most important priorities for this season of your life?
- Identify the home/business responsibilities that only you can do. (Example: only I can be Pat’s wife and only I can be Conner, Collin, and Charlotte’s mom. However, someone else can do the cleaning, laundry, cooking, etc.)
- Say NO to other things because those things you just identified are the most important. Brainstorm ways to be able to say “no” to those non-priority things. (Example: I can get my boys to help me with laundry and all three kids can help me with cleaning and cooking dinner. No one said that only mom had to do those things.)
- List the 5 most important areas of your life.
- Priority #1: Faith
- Priority #2: Marriage
- Priority #3: Children
- Priority #4: Health
- Priority #5: Business
Once I’ve completed that exercise, I then make an “action list” for each of the 5 areas of my life. I only list out 3 actions for each area because anything more than that becomes overwhelming. The purpose of doing this to help me identify ways that I can improve and grow in each of those five areas based on all of the work done before this exercise.
The Final Step
I know, you’re probably like, “Jessi this is crazy! I can’t believe you go through all of this every year!” But hear me out. By going through this process every year I’m able to identify what actually needs to be accomplished in order to achieve my deepest desires and goals. The truth is, if I didn’t do this every year I would just end up with the same goals written down year after year after year and never achieve them.
I don’t want that for you which is why I’m sharing my crazy detailed process! So the last things you’ll need to do is answer these two questions:
- What is the one thing that when accomplished within the next year would positively impact everything else in your life and business?
- What is the one thing that you’re determined to spend the next year working towards?
“Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different actions or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Setting Your Goals
Now the only thing left to do is write down those goals! For me, I list them out according to Spiritual; Marriage; Motherhood; Myself; Financial; Business; Relationships (like friends, community, or other family members); Household (projects we need to complete around the house because I swear there’s always one!). You don’t have to follow my categories just pick categories that work for you. I like to break mine out in that manner because it allows me to see if 1) I have too many unrealistic goals and 2) if some of these goals need to be broken out into smaller goals.
Okay, so you tell me what’s one BIG goal you’re hoping to achieve in the next year!
P.S. Need help with self-discipline so you can achieve your big goals this year? I’ve got you covered with this eBook, Master Your Life.
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