2020 is less than two weeks away, and while you may be focussed on Christmas right now, I bet thoughts of how to make the upcoming year a great one are creeping into your head. Rather than making new years resolutions you can’t keep, we believe it’s best to focus on setting some realistic goals in order to achieve what is really important to you, whether that is work-related, health-related or family-related. We’ve got productivity coach Josephine Brooks here to help you make a plan for a new year that is not only more meaningful, but that will also allow you more time to embrace life at a slower pace.
As we move towards a new year, and indeed a new decade our thoughts naturally turn to what we want to achieve in the next twelve months. It’s that time of year when we start to look ahead and get excited about the possibilities the next year might hold for us. We tell ourselves ‘this is the year that I…’ (fill in the blank).
And often, this is when we start making unrealistic promises to ourselves. We pledge that we’ll get more done next year, we’ll be more efficient with our time and less ‘lazy’. We can be so hard on ourselves for ‘not achieving enough’, or for not making that dream a reality that we’ve had for so long.
But really, what is your ultimate goal? To live a slower, more meaningful lifestyle? To do the best job you can with raising your children? To build that business you wholeheartedly believe in, so you can do more of what you love?
The secret to having a slower, more meaningful year is not to find ever-more efficient ways to get things done. It’s not to get less sleep and spend all of your evenings working through your to-do list so you can ‘boost your productivity’.
The secret to a slower, more meaningful year is to get clear on what you really want, cast off what’s not serving you and focus on the few projects and tasks that are going to get you closer to living the lifestyle you long for.
Here’s what I hope will be a refreshing way to plan, that will help you make next year less stressful and more meaningful.
Something we don’t do enough is acknowledge our achievements and celebrate our wins. I’ve seen how motivating this can be in myself and my clients. So, take a moment right now to look back and write down what your wins were in 2019. What challenges did you overcome? How did you look after yourself and others? What did you do that you never imagined was going to happen over the last 12 months? And what have you learned?
Find your focus
Have you ever taken the time to really understand and nail down what you want out of your lifestyle / business / career? When you do, it’s a whole lot easier to know what you need to focus on and make a priority as you move into next year. One of the best ways to do this is create a mood board or write down what your schedule would look like in your ideal week. What is it you want more of? What is it you want less of? This will help you see what commitments you need to cast off and what you need to make a priority in 2020.
Get all of the things you want to make a priority and those project ideas you’ve got buzzing around in your head down on paper. The simple act of writing things down helps to free up your headspace so that you can look at all of these ideas and projects and think about them consciously, rather than having that moment once a week where you think, I really should make more time to read, or I wish I could spend more time with my family and less evenings at the office.
Go through your list and ask yourself which projects or focus areas are going to have the biggest, most positive impact on getting you closer to where you want to go? Listen to your intuition and keep crossing out projects and ideas until you’re left with just three to focus on over the next quarter. You can pick back up on the other tasks when you come to plan out the next quarter.
Make a 12-week plan
Ever written something on your to-list thinking it would take 20 minutes and it’s taken all day? We’ve all done it. We humans are notoriously bad at judging how long things take. So rather than making one big plan for the whole year and finding by April that you’ve been grossly over ambitious, break the year down into four quarters. By shrinking your 12-month plan into a 12-week plan, you’re able to be much more realistic about what’s achievable in that time, and it all feels a lot less overwhelming too.
Break down all of the steps it’s going to take to achieve each of your three goals and plot them out over a 12-week period. Alternatively, if your goal is a routine one, such as making every Sunday a family day or making it to your yoga class every Thursday, write down what you need to do each week and repeat it in your plan for every week. By the time you reach week 12, you should have a fully embedded, positive new habit or routine.
Once you’ve got your plan laid out (I have a wall planner to help you with this if you think having a ready-made template would make it easier) get it up on the wall. One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make with planning is creating the plan and then putting it in a drawer. Being able to see your plan every day and your progress as you work through it will help to keep you motivated and focussed.
Finally, put what you need in place to keep you motivated as you work through your plan. Perhaps it’s working with a friend, who’s working on their own goals, to hold each other accountable and cheer each other on. Perhaps it’s signing up and paying for those yoga classes to help you make them a priority. Maybe it’s working with a coach or mentor or simply creating a routine of checking in with your top three wins for each week to help you see your progress and keep you motivated to move forwards.
You’ve got a plan! How does it feel? The most important thing to remember at this stage is that your plan is a tool to help you make things happen. It’s not something to beat yourself up with if you start falling behind. Check in with what you’ve achieved each week, rather than what you haven’t. And remember, enjoying the process of working through your plan is the aim here, rather than constantly reaching for a new destination. When you can find joy in the journey, you truly are doing what you love.