Episode 214: Look Forward to 2023
Referenced Journal Article: Luo Y, Chen X, Qi S, You X, Huang X. Well-being and Anticipation for Future Positive Events: Evidences from an fMRI Study. Front Psychol. 2018 Jan 9;8:2199. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02199. PMID: 29375415; PMCID: PMC5767250.
You’re listening to Live Free Creative, an intentional podcast with practical tips for living your life on purpose. I’m your host, Miranda Anderson, and I believe in creativity, adventure, curiosity. And the magic of small moments. I hope that every time you listen, you feel empowered and free to live the life that you want.
Hey there friends. Welcome back to Live Free Creative podcast. I’m your host Miranda Anderson, and I am excited to be here today for episode 214, Planning 2023. Now 2023 is what’s coming up, so that’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.
You can use this episode to think about planning all sorts of things any other year. If you’re listening far into the future and you’re listening back in the archives back to Ancient 2023, then hopefully this episode will still be relevant and helpful to you.
I do a planning episode–often many planning episodes–in November every year. So if you’re curious or interested in some others of those, you can head back through the archives and look through the November episodes from the last four years.
Here’s the truth about me. I am a massive planner. I love planning. I enjoy it. I look forward to it. And one of the reasons that I plan is so I feel like I can be both intentional with the life that I’m leading as well as spontaneous.
When I have things planned that are high on my priority list, I feel like it leaves a lot of space open for unexpected opportunities, discoveries, and adventures.
Today I’m gonna talk through some of my own plans for 2023 and kind of give you the overview of how I like to cast my vision forward a full 12 to 13 months, and then reel it back in so that I can think about what does it look like in my day to day right now in order for those things to happen.
As I get started today, I wanted to share a quick segment that I thought would be wrapping up soon, but I still keep coming up with new ideas.
So here is a new odd job.
Segment: Odd Jobs
This odd job was one that I had in high school. I am little vague on whether it was my freshman year or junior year. I know that I was old enough to drive and that I got this job opportunity because of my best friend, Cassie, who was working this same job as a phone call–cold call–girl for Farmer’s Insurance Agency in the basement of a local insurance office.
Two funny things that I remember about this odd job. One, one of my older sister’s friends was the manager of this call center. I’m using quotations over here with call center. It was really just like a couple kids in a basement with a list and a rotary phone.
So I really liked her and it was fun to get to hang out while we made all of our random cold calls, she eventually went on to be a contestant in The Bachelor. And so it was really fun to be able to see her on The Bachelor. And then now she’s an extremely talented aesthetician nurse practitioner aesthetician in Salt Lake City. So that is one fun fact.
Fun fact number two is that I don’t really remember what we were trying to do or sell. I have lots of memories around sitting down, chatting, eating, snacks, and just going through the list. We had a script where we were–I think we were inviting people to change their insurance or see if our insurance could give them a better deal.
But as I’m remembering this, I didn’t know anything about insurance, so I must have just been following a script. I still don’t remember, like if someone said yes, what I would’ve done with them if I transferred them somewhere or–I have no idea.
So from my very loose memory of being a farmer’s insurance agent, call person in the late nineties, I was probably not incredibly effective.
Something I do remember though, and I think this is pertinent to my current line of work and study, I was not easily disappointed or discouraged by the negative feedback that we got on the calls.
Most of the people, like 90% of the people, would either hang up immediately, get a little bit upset at you for calling them unsolicited, or tell you where you could put that insurance offer.
Very few were kind and generous and open on the phone, which of course, now looking back, no one loves an unsolicited phone call. Even in those days when you had a phone without a caller id, and you would most often answer it not knowing who was on the other end.
I think that we played a lot of games around the timing of calls, the consecutive nature of, you know, pick it up, call again, hang it up, pick it up, call again, to try to get ourselves motivated through the list.
I’m pretty sure that we were paid not by the hour, but by the number of calls that we made. And I love a challenge like that–how many can I do in this hour so that I maximize all of my potential for efficiency. That’s like right on par for satisfaction in my personality. So I’m sure that I made lots and lots of quick calls and hung up quickly and started again if I was rejected.
I hadn’t remembered that this was one of my jobs until on Instagram a few weeks ago there was like a prompt where you list your previous jobs, random jobs that you had had growing up. And I decided to participate and I tried to go through and just brain dump them, everything I could think of.
And this job came to the surface and I thought, oh yeah, I did have that job. And I definitely haven’t shared it on the podcast.
So just another one for you rounding out as you construct over the years this idea of the life that I had before becoming the podcast voice that you hear in your ear today. Cold calling for Farmer’s Insurance Agency is a little piece of what has made me who I am.
This episode is brought to you by Better Help. This year has sort of thrown our family for the loop with kids at growing ages, a new house, a job transition and school transition for me. And some days I wish I had a user manual to just walk me through the steps of how I’m supposed to be handling it all.
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Main Topic: Planning for 2023
Let’s talk about planning for 2023.
Why spend so much time talking about planning? I probably have half a dozen or more podcast episodes over the last four years all around this topic, different aspects of it, breaking it apart, examining it, turning it over, helping you make good plans in your life.
As a result of my graduate school studies, I am learning many things, and one of the things that’s been really fun to learn is how much of the things that I have been talking about for years have really solid empirical evidence backing it up.
So I have never tried to offer prescriptive advice based on my own thoughts. I’ve always tried to open you up to consider this or try this or see what might work for you. And as part of my studies, I’m learning how many of those intuitive things have been researched and have shown to have really high correlation to wellbeing and people feeling fulfilled and positive in their lives.
Planning is one of those. In today’s show notes, I will link a 2018 article discussing all of the benefits of planning for the future and anticipating those positive experiences. I really like the actual process of planning, and then I also like having plans, and this article tells me a little bit of why.
Generating future plans that feel fun and open us up to positive emotion feels good. And then once we have those plans, the anticipation of those future events also feels good. Both planning and anticipating can motivate each other in an upward spiral so that we are feeling better and moving toward the life or the goals or the ideals that we have.
At the same time the experiences of pleasure and joy and excitement regarding our plans also invite us to continue to make plans and contribute to goals over the long term. Add that to the robust research that shows that if we not only make plans in our mind, but also write them down and share them with a friend, we are much more likely to see their positive outcomes.
Taking some time this month to plan an overview for the next year, talk to a friend or family member about it, and actually write some of it down in a planner can be hugely beneficial for your overall wellbeing and life satisfaction.
So what does this look like for me? Well, I like to just really zoom out the whole way to where I can see the whole year ahead of me.
I like to use a piece of paper or a page in my planner to do this. I start by writing in time periods or seasons that I already know something about.
For example, the holiday season, I would block out sort of November-December. For that summer break, I may pull the dates of my kids being out of school, write those dates in. Birthdays and other holidays or traditions that we have as a family.
I want a framework of what the existing rhythm of my life might look like, and then I can overlay on top of that things that I hope for or desire.
For example, I have a birthday coming up in February and it’s a big birthday. I have been thinking about the different ways that I could celebrate for a long time, and one of the opportunities that we sort of created and jumped on a couple months ago.
I was talking to my sister. We were planning a sister’s trip around my birthday. We do this every couple years. I have three sisters and my mom and the five of us, plus occasionally and as often as they can, our sisters in-law, do a girl strip and we try to base them around a big birthday.
So someone’s 30th, someone’s 21st, someone’s 60th. We’re all different ages, and so every couple years, one of us has a bigger birthday.
My 40th is coming up, and we’ve been brainstorming around where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. And when we looked at the combination of the timing of my birthday as well as the timing of school schedules and my school schedule, our kids schedules, the springtime in general, we opened up and saw that there were some really remarkably inexpensive flights to Morocco sometime in March.
That made a lot of sense, and so we were able to, because we had an idea of we’d like to travel sometime as a girls trip. We have these guidelines around when, it might be sometime between February and March. When does it work with our schedules? What the flight looked like, or the travel transportation plan, and we were able to secure just our flights.
We haven’t booked the whole trip yet. All of the different things we’re brainstorming now, all the things that we may want to do. We’re gonna be in Marrakesh for about 10 days, and so we have a Google document where we can drop in ideas of hotels where we may want to stay, places we’d like to eat.
All of those things can be built, but now the pin is in the calendar because we got our flights booked. That’s like a step three, you know, step one overview is like, what would I like to do? Where would I like to go? And keeping a mind open around solidifying that plan.
So something that’s open like that for us is that we would like to spend about a month of our next summer abroad with our kids. Dave has the flexibility with his current job that he could work remotely for most of that time. I have always wanted to spend a little bit of extended time abroad with my own kids like I was able to do when I was a teenager.
So we have a loose plan around what that looks like in August, hopefully going to Central America.
We have this loose plan sort of written in pencil on the calendar, and over the next couple months, as we need to solidify those plans, we can come back to them.
But in the meantime, we’re just anticipating and planning–planning and excited about the possibility.
The examples I’m giving you are around travel, but your plans don’t have to be around travel only. They could be around doing a household project that you’ve been excited about or planting a garden for the first time, and what that looks like.
When I decided to plant my first garden, I wanted to winter some seeds, so that meant starting in January, planting my seeds and putting them outside, and then letting them grow within their containers, you know, these winter hardened seeds.
So while I was building the beds in the spring and filling them up and getting my water connection system all hooked up, my seeds were growing and I could transplant them around the correct timeframe in May.
You can see how having an idea, just a general toss up of like, what am I looking forward to or what would I like to look forward to? Where would I like to go? What are the types of projects at home or at work or with my friends and family that I would enjoy?
And then looking at your calendar and sort of piecing out where might make sense. Where does that fit? Our ideas always start in our head and then they move onto paper and then they move into action so that they can become reality.
Maybe to get ready for planning your 2023, you just pull out a piece of paper and write at the top What do I want to look forward to? And then sit down with your family or your partner or whoever is a keyholder in these decisions. Or maybe just a friend who’s fun to reflect on different ideas and and plans with, and start brainstorming.
Give yourself the freedom to think things that are easy, that come to mind, like top of mind you’ve been considering for a while. And also sit in the stillness and ask yourself this question. Maybe close your eyes and breathe deeply, and imagine that point sort of at the center of your chest where you imagine your heart would be if you could look right through yourself.
And instead of your heart that there’s just a little tiny glowing bulb of knowledge and this little brightness that’s like your inner spark, and it knows you and it knows what you want, and it knows what you’re hoping for, and it knows what lights you up that turns this little spark into a full glow, that smile that reaches your eyes.
Sit in the stillness long enough to have things that you didn’t even know that you wanted to look forward to come to mind. Things that are hidden deep in that subconscious that are more like feelings than thoughts that you could put into words, and that as you sit and feel what it is that comes up for you.
Recognize the warmth and the ease and the comfort of the things that you truly desire versus the tension and the resistance of things that come to mind that aren’t coming from you, that are things you think you are supposed to desire, things that you thought you should do next year.
See if you can feel your way through the difference of what is true for you? What are true plans and desires and hopes, and what are things that you think you should or ought to or would be better if you did?
Once you have a list that feels full, then look back at your calendar and start recognizing that not all our desires are meant to happen at once and not everything needs to be moved forward right now.
But what of that list, what are some of those things, or even just one or two of those things that feel like you could pencil it in, think through what would come first and how you would move through it.
What are the steps that it might take? Judging from all of that, from what you see as the actual runway to that desire, placing it on your calendar as like a stick in, a pin in the map of where you would like to head.
You have to figure out a little bit of clarity around that to know how to get there. The beautiful part about actually putting the pin in the map is all of the anticipation and positive emotion that you can experience between today and that pin.
For so many people, their plans don’t ever make it to the map. They just float around in their head and they think from time to time, that sounds fun. That’s something I’d be interested in doing. I’d like to go there someday.
And when they stay off the map, not only do you not begin to recognize the steps necessary to get to that location or to fulfill that desire, you also opt out of all of the anticipation and the beautiful expectation and hope and happiness that get to accompany you on the journey to that destination.
In this way, our plans become things that we’re looking forward to just off the bow of the ship and then something a little further on in the distance we’re traveling, and on and on.
We’re not intended to stay at any of these destinations. None of these plans are the plan, the only final plan. They’re all just checkpoints where we want to get off and look around in a couple months. I will update you on some goals or plans that I made for this last year.
On my birthday, I decided I had four ideas of things that I would like to do this year in the 12 months between February and February. I won’t give you a full update right now. I still have a couple months to go to see where we wind up in regard to those bull’s eyes that I had placed on the wall.
What has been true, regardless of the outcome, is the way that my brain has been attentive in those areas of my life for the last 10 months, I guess nine months because of saying those things out loud, of writing them down, of putting them on my calendar, I have been able to make daily and weekly plans around them.
They’ve added meaning and purpose to my life and the spaces in between, the places that I have more control over that aren’t just regimented by some of my roles and duties, but when I have extra space in between where I choose to focus my attention in part has come through the clarity that I had making plans.
Our plans don’t always have to work out the way that we hope they will in order for us to have the benefit of having made them. Does that make sense?
We think sometimes, oh, if I make this goal and I don’t get there, I’m just going to have been disappointed. What if you set a goal and that puts you pointed in direction and adding to your skill and experience in your life in ways that you otherwise would never have done?
So even if you don’t meet your goal, or even if the plan doesn’t happen the way that you thought it would, you still retain all of the benefit of having set the plan in the first place.
What are you looking forward to and how will defining that for yourself and penciling it in on your calendar for 2023 move you into being more of who you want to be?
Simply by clarifying and writing down what you desire, maybe you start to move yourself in the direction of becoming who you desire to be as well as look ahead to next year.
There are some frameworks. Just a few are are when my kids get out of school, my own graduation and the months that I have set aside to work on my thesis, my birthday, and my family’s birthdays. The summer holiday break, the holiday/winter break.
These are things that we are going to plot out and then think into how we want those experiences to be, what we desire for those.
I can even jump from there into types of hobbies I am interested in practicing or starting next year.
I can think about health and if there are different recipes or meal plans I’d like to try next year, what my physical activity level looks like.
What are the ways that I move my body daily and weekly that help me feel good and choosing things that feel enjoyable to me as well.
How do I want my relationships to look? And maybe that means scheduling in book club. Maybe for some of you, that means 2023 will be the year that you start a book club
And if you’re interested in how to do that, you can listen to Episode 62 where I talk you through the steps of how to start a book club.
Give yourself the space and time to dream and to think and to feel into what you can look forward to next year.
So much of our hope is bound to this idea that there are good things coming, that we have some control over the outcomes of our lives and planning is how we utilize some of the control that we have over the outcomes of our lives by saying, this is what I want and I’m gonna pencil it in and prepare the way so that I can do that thing, so that I can make that change so I can have that experience so I can build that relationship.
Take a couple minutes and reflect on those questions for yourself.
What are some things that you want to be able to look forward to for 2023?
What are some plans that you can pencil in in order to set your direction.
Some of that may mean buying plane tickets or registering for an event or setting up something specific. Some of it may just be writing in pencil general outlines of, I would really like to go on some sort of family vacation in the spring.
I would really like to join some sort of social group for next summer where I can spend more time outside, whether that’s a birdwatching club or a walking group or something.
Giving yourself even an outline of where you want to begin is the first step. When you have those initial ideas of what you want to look forward to written down, then you’re able to decide what are the steps necessary or evaluator discover through a little bit of digging, what are the things that I need to do in order to bring this to pass.
I have talked a lot about planning over the last few years of the podcast, and I wanna go through some of these episodes quickly just so you have them for reference. I’m gonna link all of them in the show notes as well, so if you’re feeling in a planning mood like I am, you may want to just go through.
Walk yourself through the couple years of episodes about planning. The first one is episode 17, where I give a high level overview on how pplan a year. Then episodes 117, 118, 119 and 120 was a series of four episodes in a row all around planning from high level planning. Down to the details of planning your ideal week.
Episode 159 is all about how when you. The activities of your life that that helps you plan for the future. You can listen to that episode.
And then also, 162 is all about creating a big dreams map. This is one of the habits that I’ve had over the last few years, just like a big vision board. I love to let my mind sort of go wild, and that might be a first step to grab a piece of paper, listen to episode 162, create a big dreams map, and then you’ll know from there.
What to put onto the calendar, what to put in pencil, and what to start planning on and looking forward to for the year. I hope that this episode has given you a little encouragement to get some plans down on paper so you have something to look forward to, something to anticipate. You can feel excited about what’s ahead.
Make sure you check the show notes for all of those other episodes that will guide you in your planning for 2023.
And in addition, I have something really exciting. If one thing that you want to plan on and look forward to for 2023 is hanging out with me at one of my retreats, all of the information is now available on my website livefreecreative.co/retreats.
We have creative camp coming up in spring in southern Utah. We have grown up summer camp, the third annual incredible grown up summer camp in Glacier, Montana in July, and introducing in 2023 a new retreat in partnership with my good friend Kristin Hodson. I’m hosting a couple’s adventure and connection retreat to Costa Rica in November.
All of these events are all-inclusive weeks or weekends. We take care of you and intentionally design programming schedules, activities, and adventures to tap into your creativity, to help you feel seen and feel a sense of belonging and community. To help you reconnect to yourself and to have a lot of fun while you’re doing it, check out the retreats livefreecreative.co/retreats, and I will look forward to meeting some of you in 2023.
Have a good one.