Happy New Year!
I have been away for a little while, taking a break before 2019 hits hard. But I am back now with a big one!
After a busy 2018, it is time to reflect, reset and prepare for another year.
Whether you are trying to be your 2019 best self or you simply want to get your life sorted for 2019, here are some of my thoughts on how best to prepare and plan so that you can make the most of the new year.
Tip 1: Find your key milestones
I know it doesn’t feel like it but a year is a long time. Think about the year as a project. The best way to tackle a project is to break it down into bite size pieces and complete these pieces over smaller periods of time. It makes the big work load more manageable and less intimidating. I find a similar concept generally helps for managing your year; the only difference is that instead of breaking the year into different stages of one overall goal (the overall project completion), you are breaking the year into different milestones that signify a new portion of the year.
I had a lot going on in 2018 and looking at it all together was pretty intense and overwhelming. So instead I broke the year according to the following milestones:
March: Uni starts
June: Overseas holiday
August: Start full time job
November: Foot surgery
As the year went on, a couple of unexpected milestones also occurred, such as getting engaged in April. But these were the four primary milestones around which I could plan most of my life.
To continue this example, my planning would look something like this:
- Between March and June, uni was my primary focus
- Make major wedding decisions (bridesmaids, engagement party date and venue booking) before June because it would be too late to organise these things by the time I returned from the holiday
- Do all physically involved ‘days’ of the 30 Day Simplify Your Life challenge before November because I would be unable to do them after foot surgery
- Organise engagement party and do any wedding prep that involved a lot of movement (e.g. shopping) before foot surgery
Planning your year with these big ‘milestone’ type events in mind makes life a lot easier.
But not every year has that many milestones spread throughout it. For example this year, in 2019, I have one major milestone that I am currently aware of:
April: Get married.
It’s not a lot to work with. So in this situation, sometimes setting some goals is a good way to shape your year.
Step 2: Set your goals for the year
I have said it before, but I’ll say it again: I’m not huge on goals.
That is, I don’t believe in idealistic goals like the ones you typically reserve as new years resolutions e.g. eat only salad, go to the gym 4 times a week, meditate every morning etc. Don’t get me wrong, these goals work for some people, but most of the time they are plucked out of the air as things that represent our idealistic self or lifestyle and don’t bring us much ongoing motivational value.
Here, we want goals that will help us bring structure to our year, give us something to work towards and help us achieve a more long term vision that we have for our own future.
This looks different for everyone but here are a few that I have considered as my goals for 2019:
- Organise an epic date for my fiance’s birthday in January (really have to start thinking about that)
- Find a new house to rent by the time we are married in April
- Have something that I can sell as ‘additional content’ through my blog by July
- Be drafting a book by November
Now don’t go getting your hopes up here. These are only things I have ‘considered’ as ‘potential goals’. Don’t start messaging me in disappointment if I don’t have a book released by sometime in 2020.
Some of these are smaller goals and some are larger and more broad. But each give shape to my year in some way and guide what I need to do every day in order to get to where I want to be.
Step 3: Start thinking about what you may need to do to achieve these goals
Depending on the specificity and overall size of the goal, there may be a varying number of steps to achieve each one. For example, planning an epic date will be completed in far fewer stages than writing a book. List down everything you can think of that you will need to do in order to complete each goal and then rewrite the list to be in order of required completion. Things to consider include:
- Do you need to make any bookings and if so, do you need to do so by a particular date
- Do you need to talk to anyone to coordinate certain aspects of the project?
- Do you need to allocate time to create e.g. writing content for a book or painting a sign for a kid’s birthday party
- Do you need RSVPs and if you are working with a venue, does the venue need numbers or other details by a specific time?
- Do you need to buy anything? If so, will you be buying online or do you need to set aside time on a weekend to go to the shops or a specialty store?
Knowing everything that needs to be done and what order it is to be completed in will shape your weeks and help tell you what you need to do each day to complete your goal on time. It will also prevent panic and the feeling of being overwhelmed because you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything (as long as you have written it all down) and you will feel more in control.
Step 4: Reorganise your schedule
If you know that you are doing something different this year that may require new habits and a new schedule, then start drafting it now so that you get an idea of how your weeks will be shaped. For example, when I graduated uni and moved into full-time work, my schedule changed completely.
Start by timetabling your committed hours. These are hours that you have to spend at a uni lecture, in school or at work (or any other non-negotiable time period for certain commitments e.g. dance class or yoga). Once you can visualise this, you will see the periods of time that you are free to complete other tasks including your project tasks that will help you achieve your goals, and other day-to-day tasks such as showering, picking up the kids and making dinner.
If you find you have a number of different projects and tasks consuming your week, you may find the time blocking or time boxing method useful. I use this to guide my week and find it very helpful for balancing work, wedding prep, projects and other general tasks.
Step 5: Take a breath
Make sure you remember to take some time to rest. Don’t block out your schedule so heavily that you wear yourself down. Everyone needs a breather at some point. Give yourself the opportunity to reset and mentally prepare for the new year. Do something you want to do because it may be a while before you get that opportunity again.
It’s going to be a busy year. Get organised and get excited for it.
~ Alice Maisie