Our Sponsor: Golden Coil
You know what I did yesterday and it felt so good?
I ordered my 2021 paper planner and, all of the sudden, this whole year feels like a weight off of my shoulders. And I am looking forward to a glorious year ahead.
I’m beyond excited to welcome Golden Coil customizable planners as the sponsor of the podcast this November.
For those of you who’ve been listening for a while, you know that I am a Golden Coil planner girl. I’ve talked about it for years. In fact, my 2021 planner will be my 5th year in a row using Golden Coil for all of my brain dumps, all of my scheduling, all of my meeting notes, and all of my big ideas.
There are lots and lots of reasons that I love Golden Coil. And I want to share a few with you.
The first one is something that makes Golden Coil really unique in the planner market.
It is a fully customizable planner.
That means that they have dozens of layouts, including daily, weekly, yearly, as well as tracker pages. You can track books you’re reading, meeting notes. You can track your meal plan, healthy habits, family or business finances. All of these things can live in one tidy place, customized to your lifestyle and your needs, within your paper planner.
Beyond that, you can customize the start and end dates of your personal planner. So there’s no bad time to order one. You don’t have to miss half a year if you decide to order in June, or you could order right now if you haven’t been using a planner and you feel like, “Oh man, with the holidays, it’d be really nice to keep some things straight.”
You could order one today to start on December 1st.
Okay. So beyond the customizable aspect, the planner itself is just so quality.
It has 80 pound Mohawk paper, which if you’re a paper snob, you will understand that’s amazing. If you’re not a paper snob, just think of the most thick, luscious matte card stock that just absorbs the ink of your pen so deliciously. That’s what you write on every single day in your Golden Coil.
The planner has a nice, thick, hard cover. You can choose from a leatherette style. All these beautiful hues of linen. Or my favorite is to choose a pattern designed by an independent designer that partners with Golden Coil to bring to life these limited edition, really cool covers.
And if all of that, weren’t enough of a reason to love this company. It’s owned by two sisters. It’s a woman-owned, woman-operated business filled with heart and dedication and love.
Our lives all look so different and they should, which is why having a planner that you can customize to fit your lifestyle is such a great idea.
Visit GoldenCoil.com and use livefree10 for 10% off an order of a customizable planner or notebook.
The whole month of November I’ve dedicated to planning and scheduling and dreaming. And I want to thank Golden Coil for supporting us in living our most beautiful, meaningful and individual lives.
Welcome to Live Free Creative, the podcast that provides inspiration and ideas for living a creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle. I’m your host Miranda Anderson, and I hope that each time you listen, you feel a little bit more free to live your life exactly the way you want to live it.
Hello, hello, my friends. Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson. You’re listening to Episode 117 – Planning Your Ideal Life, Part 1: Annual Planning.
I am so excited about this month. It’s gotten me just giddy, looking forward to sharing four weeks of episodes on planning your ideal life.
I talk a lot in this show about living the life that you really want to live. And I try to give you tactical, practical, systematic ideas and ways to do that. And November 2020 is dedicated to starting big, breaking it down, from annual planning all the way down to daily planning, in the hopes that you can really just focus in and wrap your mind around how to take all of those big ideas and implement them in practical, meaningful ways into your everyday life.
So this week we’re going to talk about vision casting or annual planning, big dreams, and letting your imagination run wild, in order to get started thinking about the type of life you want to live and the priorities you have.
Next week, Part 2 will be all about quarterly and monthly planning, how to break those things down.
Week number three, Part 3, will be all about our weekly ideal plan.
Week number four, Part 4, we’re going to get specific in your daily plans, schedules, systems.
Friends, it’s going to be amazing. And I think it is exactly what we need at the end of this year, where I think a lot of us have felt like, is there even any reason to plan anything because all of my plans get changed or ruined by things I can’t control?
The answer is yes, absolutely yes. Having a plan, having an idea, taking those dreams and breaking them down into practical steps. That’s how we live the life that we want.
Planning is how we stay in the driver’s seat of our own life. I actually believe that at the end of this year in particular, we all have a new perspective about our lives and about plans in general that will be so valuable and really aid us in a way that we couldn’t have imagined being possible last year.
Your perspective at the end of 2020 is different than it probably has ever been. And friends, sometimes that different is good.
Before we dive into the meat of today’s show, I want to share a very quick segment called magical adventure moments.
Segment: Magical Adventure Moments
Last week, I opened my eyes to a little tiny bit of light coming my bedroom window. It was a pink hued light shining through my stained glass, and rather than curling up and going back to sleep for a little while, I recognized it as a call to get up and to go outside and to watch the sunrise.
I don’t remember the last time before this that I got up to watch the sunrise, but I pulled on my slippers. I patted down the stairs. I grabbed my big puffy coat and hood, and poured myself a mug of perk energy and sat out on my front porch swing in the 30-degree biting morning air.
And I rocked and watched the sun rise over the trees in my neighborhood. I watched my breath turn into steam, and I thought about a few other times in my life where I’ve watched the sun rise.
The first one that came to mind was when Dave proposed to me at the top of Mount Timpanogos during the sunrise in August of 2006. It was a surprise. He pulled out a ring right as the sun broke over the mountains and asked me if I would share all of the rest of my sunrises with him. Spoiler, I said yes.
Then I went back a little further to when I was in college and I was living abroad in Mexico. And I would wake up really early when the whole bustling town was quiet and watch the sunrise.
Then I went back a little further and remembered many, many sunrises when I had been camping with my dad. And I would wake up as the light was breaking through the thin fabric of the tent and unzip the door and go sit outside with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the sunrise.
I sat rocking on my front porch and I thought about the windy, curious pathway of life, and how I never could have predicted where I would be right now. The life that I’m leading today is unlike what I expected.
And yet it’s exactly the life that I want to be living today.
Something as simple as a sunrise can remind us how every new day we have a chance to head in the direction of our dreams. Every new day there are opportunities for magic and for adventure and for reflection and for peace.
How often do you think about what you want in life, the life you want to be living, where you want to be going, what you’d like to be doing, how you want to fill your days and your weeks?
Is that something that you regularly reflect on? Or is it something that feels like an aside, like you’re too busy living your life to step out of it long enough to think about where you’re actually going or what you want to do?
I know that sometimes it sounds a little bit idealistic to think about your big dreams or where you want to be going or how you want to feel in your life. Sometimes we just get caught in doing the minutia of every day and it’s hard to unwind and see how that’s connected to anything else on a bigger scale.
A lot of us, and I hear from women all the time who say that they feel like they’re just sort of doing life without a plan without a specific direction. And then they wonder why they don’t feel fulfilled, why they don’t feel like they have a purpose.
I love this exchange in Alice in Wonderland, between Alice who was wandering in the forest and the Cheshire cat who appears out of thin air.
“Would you tell me, please, which way out to go from here?” Alice asks.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the cat.
“I don’t much care where,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat.
“So long as I get somewhere, Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the cat, “if only you walk long enough.”
So the question is not whether or not we’re going to get somewhere. The question is whether we’re going to get to where we’d like to go.
The only way to get to where you’d like to go is by knowing where that is. And the only way to know where that is is by thinking, reflecting, brainstorming, and dreaming.
I want to clarify, and this is important, that it doesn’t matter so much where we get to from a standpoint of worthiness or meaningfulness in life. There isn’t one pathway or destination or goal or dream that’s better than another.
The important thing is that we are choosing for ourselves, that we are deciding for ourselves, what feels right for us, what feels good, what feels aligned with our person, with our values, with our personalities, with the things that we hope for.
It would be really easy if there was just one prescription that was meant for everyone, we’re all supposed to do the same things and go the same direction. And sometimes we actually might feel like that. Like there’s this one right way to do things, or to be, or even to dress or to talk or the activities to put your kids in.
We sometimes submit to the idea that the direction that it seems like most people are heading, the sort of well-worn path of culture and society that you’re familiar with, or that you’re surrounded by, that that is the right way for everyone.
My friends, the beautiful truth that I want you to understand is that the right way for you is the one that you choose in our society. Especially we tend to value, or see as valuable, all of the big splashy types of lives, success and power in running big companies and making lots of money and living in big, beautiful homes that are perfectly designed.
Yeah, we see all of these sort of ideals as the, just a nation that we’re all supposed to be headed toward. And that is untrue your individual life. Your goals and dreams may be to work the local library, and volunteer at the blood bank, and ride your bicycle to the market, and raise chickens in your backyard, and play bingo with your kids.
Some of your big dreams may include learning how and knit, taking your kids fishing on the weekends, visiting all of the national parks. There’s no right or wrong dream. There’s no right or wrong way to live your best life.
There’s a quote in my friend, Elise Cripe’s book, which is called Big Dreams. Daily Joys. Elise was a guest on the show a few episodes ago, talking about the three things. One of the things that Elise says is “We set goals to learn, expand, and find the joy that comes from getting uncomfortable and pushing ourselves outside the daily routine.”
So we don’t set goals so that we can be successful or be worthy, or be valuable, or have a meaningful life. We set goals so that we can learn, expand, and find joy. That progress and striving for something and having a direction and some sense of purpose, that feels good. That feels good in and of itself beyond the destination.
Whether we get to the destination or not, striving towards something is a little bit uncomfortable–in a good way. It is progress.
So I’m going to invite you to do two exercises in this episode, I’m going to explain them to you:
The first one is your big dreams page, a big dreams vision cast.
And the second one is your annual 2021 plan.
1. Big Dreams Page
The first one is your big goals or big dreams page. This is like a brainstorm. The purpose of this activity is to just loosen up the nuts and bolts in your had that have the fixed idea that you can’t do something, that you’re limited by things, or that you don’t really know.
Actually, this reminds me of doing homeschool with my kids in the morning. Every single morning, we start with what we call morning pages, It’s a journal exercise. It helps with their writing and their imagination and creativity. And every day I give them a prompt and we have 15 minutes to write.
Many, many days my kids will look at me and say, “I just don’t know what to write.” “I don’t really know what I think about that prompt.” And I’ve counseled them that there’s no right or wrong answer to this. It’s just an exercise to get your brain going.
So even if you need to write, I’m not really sure what to write. I’m not really sure what I think. Or you have to hop the hurdle that tells you that if you write something down on this big goals page and it somehow doesn’t work out, or you don’t really want to do it, that you’ve done it wrong. There’s no wrong way to do this.
I personally do this exercise several times throughout the year. I take time whenever I’m feeling a little bit stuck or unmotivated to just brainstorm out all the things that I’ve thought sound fun, or sound interesting, or that I’m curious about, any of the little inklings that I’ve had. The little nudges that say, Hmm, maybe you should explore this. Or that could be interesting.
A general creative brainstorm is a great way to just shake out ideas from all of the tangles of your brain and get it onto paper.
However, I do this practice specifically at the end of a year for the next year. My big dreams, big ideas, big goals for the upcoming year.
And I write it. I dedicate a page in the front of my planner. I love putting some dot grid pages at the beginning of my Golden Coil.
And I use that for tracking lots of different habits and things throughout the year. I just like them all at the front. So I can just know exactly where all of these pages lie. So one of my pages is dedicated to my big goals for the year.
I know as I’m writing down these big goals that I will probably not accomplish all of them, some of them, throughout the year. I’ll go and look at and realize that they no longer apply. And so I can cross them off.
As they happen, if they do, I put a big checkmark or circle or star around them. This year, I’ve just filled in a dot there. They have a little circle next to them, so I just fill in the dot as they’ve happened.
What having a big goals page at the beginning of my planner does for me is give me a little bit of a sense of direction in the different areas of my life. Things that I want to do, things that I’m interested in.
The way that I use this page is generally to choose one that I’m going to dig in on. Some of them are things that happen and end. Some of them are things that are ongoing. So I’m going to share some of my big goals for 2020, so you can get an idea of the types of things that my big goals page has:
1. Read 100 books
2. Have my house before and after featured in a magazine
3. Have five to seven meatless or vegetarian meals per week
4. 1 million downloads of the Live Free Creative podcast (spoiler: We’re not quite there yet. That’s okay.)
5. Grow a garden
6. Complete the kid’s clubhouse
7. Do 10 paid speaking gigs
8. Train Quincy, our dog
You can see that some of these are really tactical, practical. Some of them are a little bit idealistic or out there. Some are things that I have to do in perpetuity. Like reading 100 books doesn’t happen one time. Like it’s something that you work on and chip away at throughout the whole year.
And something like grow a garden, requires a little bit of planning and preparation. And because it’s written down, I remember to focus on it and take it into consideration as I’m making more specific plans for the year.
So let me tell you that having this page to flip back to at different points, especially during 2020, has been so helpful. Specifically, a couple of them.
This is something she’s been in training before when she was a puppy. And there were just a couple of behaviors that we wanted to help her with. And for the last three years, I’ve had the idea to send her to a training camp and get her some specific individualized training regarding a couple of her habits. And I just hadn’t quite done it.
The ones I was looking at were a little bit expensive. I didn’t know when it was a good time to have three weeks for her to be gone and then multiple weeks that we would be home in a regular routine to reinforce her training, which is an important part of it.
Well, guess what friends, 2020 happened. And by March we had nothing going on in our lives for the foreseeable future. So when all of my previous plans shut down and I was like, what am I supposed to be doing right now?
I flipped back to my big goals page and I noticed train Quincy and realize that’s something I’d been wanting to do for a couple of years. Like I said, this has been on my big goals page for at least two years.
And I thought, well, now might be the best time for that. You know, our budget has changed because a bunch of trips and things we had planned disappeared. We no longer would be in and out of the house going places and doing things and weekend trips and all the things that we had planned. So we would be home and could do some reinforcement of the training. And it kind of lined up really well.
Because it was an idea that I had out there that I captured and put down on the page. It was something concrete that I could then go ahead and move forward on.
The same thing happened with the kid’s clubhouse. If you’ve been following along on Instagram or just listening to the podcast, I’ve talked a lot about how we have transformed our shed into a clubhouse.
It’s something that I’ve had on the big dreams list for the last couple years, since we bought the house. And for one reason or another, I didn’t get to it until this year. And this year, again, when plans shifted and I found myself asking, what should I be doing? What could I be focusing on? What is something that I’ve wanted to do? And I have an opportunity now to do it.
I looked at that complete the clubhouse and realized that there was no better time.
Now, something like having a million downloads of the podcast, this is something that I can’t directly control. However, it gives me a direction to head in. The things regarding the podcast that I can control are showing up every single week and publishing something that people will want to listen to. Adding value in each show so that you come away feeling inspired and interested and looking forward to the next week’s episode.
If I share episodes that you want to share with your friends and family, there’s a higher chance that the show will continue to grow. It gives me the motivation to continue down a path, doing all of the things that I can.
And hitting a million downloads when that happens will be a really fun milestone, but it isn’t the purpose of the show. Giving myself a big dream or a big goal like having the show grow to a million downloads is something that influences my motivation and the direction that I’m going, making sure that I’m doing everything that I can in order for Live Free Creative podcast to be a fantastic experience for those who are listening.
Something like read a hundred books is a really specific goal. And again, there’s no true reason why this is necessary. What it has done is remind me that I love to read. I mean, I knew that I love to read.
It is so easy to forget that when there are a lot of really mindless activities at our fingertips, whether just scrolling my phone for hours or hopping onto a new series on Netflix, which neither of those things are inherently negative, but having the clear and specific goal for myself that is a little bit of a stretch for me, maybe reading five books in a year would be a big goal for some of you. Maybe reading 200 would be more of a stretch for you.
Something that is just going to remind you that you want to be filling your life with literature and reading. You want to spend your free time, or at least some of it, a good intentional portion of it, escaping into stories and reading and learning.
Having a big goals, brainstorming session, and just writing them all down, all of your ideas, the things you would like to accomplish, you may surprise yourself what comes out of you.
It gets your mind thinking and puts you in control of imagining your own destiny, imagining the life that you would like to be living and the direction that you want to be headed. It’s also really fun to have a record of the things that you’ve been hoping for and look back and see where you’ve changed your mind and also where you have achieved and where you have really pursued a goal until the end.
A couple of years ago on my big goals page, I had written down to write a book. It was just a big dream. And then I wrote it down and I implemented it into my year plan and my monthly plan and my weekly plan and my daily plan. I was writing every single day until that book was done.
Once I decided to get going on it, it was a big dream that of course now has become a reality.
Here’s a little plug for More Than Enough. If you haven’t yet read it, you can grab a copy through the link in the show notes. I would love to share it with you.
Okay. So that is the big vision cast. That’s your dream page, your goal page. I want to encourage you to pull out a sheet of paper or grab a planner and write down some big dreams and big goals for 2021.
2. Annual Plan
Next, I want to walk you through how to plan your ideal year.
If we’ve learned anything from 2020 it’s that there are a lot of things that we cannot control. And there are a lot of things that we can giving yourself an overview scope of the entire upcoming year is one of the very best ways to ensure that you are doing the types of things that you want to do.
Not only individually, but also as a family and sometimes as a friendship group in your friend community. I did a whole episode a couple of years ago about planning your year, and I’m going to revisit it here. I think that episode is still worthwhile. If you didn’t listen to it, or it’s been a couple of years, let me remind you of this simple, powerful practice.
Getting a wide angle plan on the entire upcoming year is something that Dave and I have been doing for many years ourselves. Around the holidays, usually we are driving to or from family. And we have this long time in the car to sit and chat and we project what we would like to be doing next year.
What are the activities we have planned? What do we want to do for the holidays? What trips would we like to go on? When are things going to fit well? Is Dave traveling for work? Am I traveling for work?
We are able to get just a wide angle view on the whole upcoming year, and that has benefited us so well because we’re not flying by the seat of our pants. We have a clear idea and we’re able to budget. We’re able to make reservations. We’re able to invite people to participate in ways that we couldn’t if we didn’t know what we wanted to do.
I’m going to go through the quick and easy steps that we use to create an annual plan every year. And I invite you to do the same for yourself.
1. Get A Paper View of the Entire Year
You need a sheet of paper or a page in your planner. I, of course, include a year at a glance sheet in the beginning and the end of my Golden Coil planner.
I love the way that this gives me the chance to look at the entire year by month, all at once on one page, and with big boxes, not like little tiny calendars, like it’s not that all those little dated year at a glance, it’s just a January with a box and a February with a box in, in March with a box.
So I get to plan. I don’t care about all the little dates I’m talking about the months of the year, all at once on the paper.
I’m going to reiterate, this is important to do with a paper and pen, not digitally. There is tons of research that shows that actually writing things connects that physical part of your body with the mental practice in your brain. And it solidifies these ideas. It makes them more meaningful to you, easier to remember, and easier to execute.
So actually pull out a piece of paper, grab a pen and write down all of the months of the year.
2. Write In Your Existing Plans
The next step is to write down in the appropriate months, all of the things that you already have planned for the upcoming year.
Usually by November or December, Dave and I have at least a couple things already planned for the upcoming year, whether it’s a vacation, whether Dave is traveling for work, whether I have registered for a couple of conferences.
Now, I know it sounds silly to be doing some of this stuff in 2020/2021, because maybe you don’t know all of these things. All of the things that you do know put down on the sheet, even if they’re just tentative plans.
For example, I have planned myself a birthday getaway in February to Baja, Mexico. I don’t know whether or not I’m going to be able to travel in February. I don’t know if Mexico is going to allow travelers. You know, everything depends on the pandemic and the safety of traveling in February.
However, I already planned the trip. I know that I can cancel it if I need to, but for now, I am just loving looking forward to it. And I know that I might have to cancel it. And I’m reserving that idea in my brain as a possibility.
For now, it’s so fun to just be thinking about basking in the sun, in Mexico, around my birthday, what a fun plan to look forward to, even if I have to cancel it, I will have enjoyed looking forward to it in the meantime.
Other things that you might already have planned are some types of family traditions. I know there’s families that know that every year they spend a week at a family cabin as a family reunion. You would want to put that on the dates and plans for that.
Of course, your family birthdays. These are things that you can plan around. They don’t get canceled because of coronavirus. So you can put down the dates of birthdays and take a look at what day of the week does it fall on and start brainstorming ideas for what you want that to look like.
All of the holidays that you celebrate in any sort of meaningful way can go on your annual plan. I love to know the dates of the holidays, the ones that change. Some of them like Easter, that changes every year, I’d like to know when that date is.
I love to know the school holidays.
I’m homeschooling right now. So every day is a holiday. In a normal year, it’s really nice to know when the school holidays are. And for fall 2021, I’m going to plan on my kids being in school. So when does that start? When is their fall break? When is their Christmas break?
I’m going to be able to look ahead at some of those things and have them on my annual plan because when I know what I’m working around. It helps me make decisions about what I want to do.
You may get to this point where you have, you know, some basics for the holidays, maybe family birthdays written down, and one or two other little things that are planned, a big meeting or a family reunion. And then think, gosh, my year looks pretty open.
There aren’t a lot of plans.
Friends, this is the fun part. Now you get to create plans for a lot of that open space.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to be doing more than you would normally be doing. Guess what happens in our life if we don’t plan, we end up doing what other people plan for us or just reacting to whatever happens in our lives.
When you have your whole year ahead of you, you get to ask yourself, What do I want to do this year? What do I want it to look like? What do I want it to feel like? And start to fill in some of the blanks.
I love to look at the holidays and determine maybe next year for Christmas we want to go on a family vacation for our Christmas trip. A lot of people think, gosh, that’s really expensive. How would I know what to do or where to go?
When you are planning an entire year in advance, you have the benefit of being able to save, make it a part of your budget, and plan for it all year. So you’re not just trying to pay for a trip with your November and December salary. You have put aside money all year long to do this trip at Christmas.
You could decide like we do, whether we’re going to travel home to see our families in Utah or whether we’re going to stay in Virginia for the holidays. That really helps us determine how much other time we need to spend where.
So for example, if we’re spending the holidays in Utah, we might decide to spend less time in Utah during the summer, because we know that we will have an opportunity to see all of our family later on in the year.
Our personal family loves to do little trips throughout the year. I love to every couple months, go on a little overnight stay, a camping trip, a little weekend staycation. When I’m looking at the whole year, I can see a general overview of when some of those things might fit well.
I don’t think November or December is a great time to do a quick weekend trip because we will probably be doing something for the holidays. What are the months that look a little bit more open that we can plug those in?
I am laughing looking at my…I’m opened in my planner to my year at a glance page for 2020. And I’m going to tell you a few things that are crossed off.
In March, I have Alt Summit, which is a business conference that I love to go to. And I was there from March 3rd to 5th. I also have in March, Panama city, March 10th to 17th, which is crossed off. Florida, March 26th to 28th, which is crossed off. Going to Greensboro where I was doing a speaking event on April 3rd, which is crossed off. A Live Free Creative Camp in Texas May 5th to 9th, which is crossed off.
Then we have to July where I canceled UPW in Chicago. That’s crossed off.
Summer camp in Idaho, July 9th to 12th. That’s crossed off.
Our big trip to hike Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa for Dave and my sister’s 40th birthday in September crossed off.
Friends, we’ve made so many plans in our annual plan that we had to cancel. And I’m still so glad that we made all of those plans. That said, going forward, at least through the beginning of 2020, our actual physical travel schedule might look a little bit different just knowing that we might not have a full green light on traveling for awhile until mid-year.
What are the things I can do close to home? What are the ways to adapt to the pandemic that we’ve found that are really fun? Lots of time spent outside camping trips are great ideas right now. Giving ourselves an annual plan doesn’t mean that every single thing on it is definitely going to happen.
The truth is we get a lot closer to doing the things we want to do when we’ve planned them and planned for them. It’s okay for plans to change. It’s okay to get halfway down the road and realize that you’d like to actually go somewhere different or that that road has now a detour, so you’re going to go somewhere else instead.
If you’re in motion because of the plan that you made initially, it’s a lot easier to adjust and adapt than to get yourself going in the first place.
Looking forward to 2021, I have my birthday trip, hopefully happening in February. I’ve already planned the dates for my Live Free Creative Camp retreats in April and in October. And I am finalizing the dates for my summer camp in Idaho in July.
Now some of these things are things I had to cancel last year and I’m so looking forward to putting them back on my annual plan for 2021 and inviting people to come safely gather and dig into their deep work or spend some time getting to know other moms and having a break at the summer camp.
I can look at my whole overview and see what months might feel like they need a little something. For example, historically, I’ve loved to travel in February or March because of the winter. I’d like to just go somewhere warm and that doesn’t have to look like a vacation.
You can think, okay, I know that in February or March, I’m going to feel a little bit cold, a little bit tired of the winter. What is something that I could plan? It doesn’t have to be a trip. It could be something that you could plan looking at the season and knowing what you’re going to kind of really yearn for at that time.
Maybe it’s a special day out with your family. Maybe you can look at that and say, you know, it’s going to be cold and that’s a really good time to repaint the bathroom. Some home goals or projects that you want to work on. All of those types of things can go your annual plan, tentatively scheduled in to the spaces that make sense for them.
One of the many benefits of looking at the year as an overview before it even begins is that it allows you to really take stock and create space for the things that you want to do.
Beyond travel plans, I use my annual plan also as a place to write down some goals. If I want to run a race, or if I want to learn some sort of skill that takes going to a class, these are all things that are usually planned pretty far in advance. And the more that you can get established ahead of time on your annual plan, the more likely you are to actually be focusing each month, and then each week, and then each day, on the things that you want to be doing.
Once you have some big overview things, you’ve got the holidays on there, you’ve got maybe birthdays, maybe school holidays. You’ve made some decisions about what you want to do. If anything specific around those holidays, those pre-planned times, some of your family traditions or certain house projects you’d like to get done, certain goals and where they would fit pretty well into the year that, helps give you some direction and some focus.
I like to include some business goals. So I will maybe put down when I’d like to have a program launched or a book that I want to release. I have a book that I hope to release in 2021. So these types of things can also go, you know, when is a good time, what is realistic? If I’m planning on releasing a book, maybe in the fall next year, that helps me have then a timeline to work backwards from, to know what I should be doing now.
We also like to include our kids on this. We like to ask our kids, what is something that you’d like to do? Where would you like to go? What would you like to experience? And we can start plugging some of those things in.
I love the whole year view. It gives me an ability to sort of set a pace and think about things in seasons as well. I know that January, February, March usually is a little bit slower, cozier feeling for me. I know that heading into the spring/summer feels like rejuvenation. What are some, you know, maybe a little bit more ambitious projects that I’ll have the motivation for?
Summertime feels like, you know, going all out to, we can go on a hike every single day, if we want in the summer, like how do I plan around the season?
And then winding things back down in the fall and back into the holidays, knowing that we’re going to kind of bring things back in, keep it a little bit cozier and sort of tidying up, tying the bow on the year and preparing for a new year ahead.
3. Don’t Stress About Details
An important part of an annual plan is to not stress about all the details. You can put a couple of things on your calendar that might not happen. You just put them on there on this, you know, year at a glance sheet, as a goal or a dream. And you don’t have to figure out all of the details right now. You write down the what, and the rough timeframe, the month, and let your brain start to, in the background, go to work on the how.
Let me tell you a secret. Even before coronavirus and the pandemic, we would make plans for a year and not all of them would happen. Do you relate?
Coronavirus wasn’t the only thing that has ever caused us to have to change our plans many, many, many times. I mean, every single year I make plans on my big year at-a-glance that ended up having to change for one reason or another.
And that has never stopped me from planning. It has never stopped me from giving myself the chance to look at a year, this fresh year ahead, and say, What are the possibilities? What do we want to be doing? How am I going to put my pen to the paper and make some high level decisions for our family so that our life aligns with our values so that our actions align with our hopes and dreams.
I have said this before, and I will say it again. So much of the fun of the experiences that we have are the anticipation. So much of the emotional joy and wonder that we take from our experience happens before the experience even comes to reality.
The anticipation, the planning, the excitement, the motivation, all of those things we can experience all along the way. And if the plan ends up changing, it doesn’t take away from the months that we spent looking forward to it.
And some of you might say, yeah, it makes it worse. It makes it worse because I planned on it and looked forward to it for so long. And then I had to cancel it. I want to just flip the script for a second and ask you if you would prefer to have not looked forward to something, to not have loved it and anticipated it and had all of those good feelings all along the way until it was canceled.
It’s so easy to look back and say, I wish I would’ve known, so I wouldn’t have planned it at all. You would be depriving yourself of all of the fun of looking forward to something.
Things might get canceled. That’s true.
Plans might change. That’s true.
Set yourself up for the enjoyment of the process of looking forward, of dreaming big, of making some concrete plans, and look forward to that. Enjoy it, anticipate it, and do everything that you can to make it happen. And then don’t worry so much if it doesn’t.
I truly believe that right now at the end of this wild year is one of the best times ever to look forward to a new year and to make some really fun plans for ourselves.
Now, more than ever, we have an idea of the things that we can control that we can plan on. If you want to be really safe in your plans and say, I don’t know if we’re going to be able to travel internationally at all in 2021, so I’m going to make all of my plans staycations that I can control.
Maybe your 2021 plans look more like wishes, like little goals, like a hobby to develop, some time spent cooking or teaching or playing.
Remember that your annual plan will look different than anyone else’s and that’s good. That’s right. That’s okay.
You may want to align with some family members. I know my family has a couple annual traditions. And so at this time, November, December, I like to call my parents and say, okay, what are the dates for the Lake Powell trip? You know, are we planning on going spending any time together at the cabin? Those are things that I want to then coordinate with other people. And the further in advance that I do that, the more likely it is that I’m going to be able to make it happen.
Just like the Cheshire cat told Alice, without knowing where you want to go, you’ll eventually get somewhere if you walk long enough.
You know, 2021 is going to happen, whether you plan anything for yourself and your family or not.
How much more lovely will it be when you actually spend the year doing things that you want to do, that matter to you, that feel meaningful, that feel fulfilling, and that light up your year.
I am so excited for this month of planning on purpose on the podcast. I’m going to give you little exercises every single week during November. And I hope that you will do them.
Grab a sheet of paper or open up a planner and brainstorm your big dreams and goals for 2021. Don’t give yourself any limitations, just see what comes out of you.
And then create a year-at-a-glance or open up to a year-at-a-glance page where you have all of the months laid out for the year 20 21, and think: What do I want to do? What do I know is already happening? What do I want to fill in the blanks? What do I want to experience? How do I want to feel? And what types of things will help me feel that way?
Friends, next week I’m so excited to talk you through how to take some of these big ideas and plans and break them down into the quarterly and monthly action items.
And then in the following weeks, we’ll break it down into weeks and then talk about how to live every day as well as possible.
It’s going to be a really fun month and I’m so excited to have you along for the ride.
Thank you so much for being here and for tuning in.
If you’re looking forward to planning your year, planning your ideal life over the next month on the Live Free Creative podcast, make sure that you share the episodes with a friend or a family member.
I would love to have as many people join in as possible so that we can all continue to live a more creative, adventurous, and intentional lifestyle.
I’ll talk to you next week. See you later.