This morning, I was sharing a bit of my end-of-year planning process on my Instagram Story, and I received so many questions that it got overwhelming to share there! I love IG Stories for the simplicity and ease of sharing there, but some things need more space for sharing, and I think planning a new year is one of them.
I don't normally feel compelled to share how I do every little thing, but so many of you were struggling and needing ideas for how to go about this, I really want to share. I think getting above an overwhelming task (like setting your intent for a new year), and sort of gaining an aerial perspective is something that comes naturally to me, so I love to plan things like this. However, if that's not your strong suit, I can imagine it being very difficult, frustrating, and feeling insurmountable.
I'm actually setting my intent for the year right now, as I type - it makes sense to actually do this and write a blog post about it at the same time ;)
My hope is that seeing me do it will give you some clarity on how to go about it for yourself, or at least inspire you a little. Ready? Let's do it.
I just use the Notes App in my iPhone. I'm normally a pen and paper girl, but when I do this in my journal is ends up taking up pages and pages, and I want it all on one page, in one place nice and neat. Lucky for you, that makes it easy to take screen shots and share what I am planning :)
The first thing I do is reflect.
What didn't work for me last year? What made me feel disconnected from my core values? What have Brian and I been talking about doing a lot lately - is this a good year to do those things? What needs to be a higher priority than it's been?
Here are some things I have realized in the end of this year, and today as I was reflecting...
1. I am not connected to my core values as a mother right now with my children in school. I miss homeschooling, and the best choice for us is to pull the older two out and begin our homeschool year after winter break.
Note: this was not how I felt in August when I was completely overwhelmed with my business. Things change, seasons come and go, people change their minds. Flexibility is a wonderful trait to possess. It's okay to go against the grain!
2. We really love traveling with our kids and want to take a lot of trips this year.
3. I have slid back into old habits, and my health has not been a priority lately. I don't feel good, Im sluggish and cranky, and my sugar/junk food addiction is in full swing. I need to make healthy choices a higher priority this year.
4. I am tired from last year's whirlwind success in our business. I hired new people, delegated everything I can, and need to remain consistent with my new work schedule of two days per week.
The next thing I do is write out what matters most to me this year.
This list is based off what came from my time of reflection, and it's basically a list of priority focus. For example, I noticed that several of the problems I faced (or am currently facing) stem from not spending much time on my walk with the Lord. I have felt disconnected and busy - that's not how I want to live! So one thing that has made its way to the top of my What Matters Most list is building a closer relationship with Jesus.
See what I mean and how this works?
This is a really helpful soul check that I do every year and it keeps me intentionally focused. Last year, my list looked very different, with a focus on my marriage and learning to manage the business well. Make sure your list is what you need to focus on, not what you wish you needed to focus on.
Next, I write down what each of these focuses will require from me in terms of time spent.
This is where I see a lot of well-intentioned people fail - they don't realize that meeting these goals, making these changes in their lives... it requires time from you every week, sometimes every day. If you don't plan for that, it's not likely to happen.
I make bullet points underneath each goal/focus, so there is a list of what it will require from me right next to it.
Next, I establish what rhythms will make my life easier.
Time leaks through the cracks without rhythms. Simple things like rhythmically putting a load of laundry in every night, then switching it every morning make my life so much simpler!
If there are no rhythms, then the day-to-day stuff will end up filling all my time blocks and I will stay still; and I want to be moving forward, accomplishing things, reaching goals.
There are two types of rhythms in my life:
Sometimes our rhythms need a reboot, sometimes they stay the same, sometimes new ones are added. It's all about where you're at in your life and how happy you are with how things are currently going.
I have noticed that not getting dressed in the morning (and my "dressed" I just mean under-eye concealer and a bra) I don't feel very good during the day, even though I work from home and don't really have to get dressed.
I've also noticed that not having the kids' outfits laid out makes for a really hectic morning. I haven't had the head space to make this small change, so by sitting down and planning how things will change this year, I was able to set an intent to lay everyone's clothes out the night before. It's a small change that will have us all feeling better and our mornings running more smoothly.
I will implement new rhythms by writing them in my weekly planner (here's the one I use) for the first month, and after that they become habits.
Then, I write down any problems that need to be solved or questions that need to be answered.
Sometimes, there are decisions that need to be made that I've been avoiding or feel really big and overwhelming, so I just do nothing about them. This is a time to sit with Brian and actually make the decisions.
This year, as we get back to homeschooling, it's the first year we've had a very open-ended schedule. We work from home, we'll be doing school at home, we can have whatever schedule we want, and that freedom is great but it also stresses me out to an extent. We have to create our own barriers and boundaries.
One thing we've been talking about but hadn't decided before today was regarding our weekends. There are lots of pros to having "week day weekends", meaning we can pick two week days to make into our days "off" from school and have a weekend. Less crowds, cheaper prices when you're out doing stuff, less traffic.
There are also pros to having a traditional weekend. Everyone else is "off" and ready to do stuff, more places are open, etc.
Brian and I have been talking about what to do with this issue for weeks and just going in circles. Today we sat down, talked it out, and actually made a decision. You know what happened? It wasn't as big a deal as we were making it.
Homeschooling takes about two hours a day, and my new work schedule is only Mondays and Fridays. We came to realize we can kind of have both kinds of weekends! We ultimately decided to make Sundays and Thursdays our days totally "off" of homeschooling (we enjoy not having two days totally off in a row, but spacing them out a bit), but to also enjoy Saturdays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays with no work.
So with this decision, our homeschool week looks like this:
Thursday: NO SCHOOL
Sunday: NO SCHOOL
We really like this because it's broken up, and we know that the "school days" are only a couple of hours ;)
Do you see how making that one decision gave me so much clarity and I can now see what a typical week will look like for us this year? Such a burden lifted!
Finally, I get detailed.
The last step is to pick up all the little pieces and put them in place.
How am I going to get my health in order? (make a list of healthy groceries, pin recipes to pull from on meal-planning Sundays, download a hydration app to remind me to drink water, set workout days, etc)
If the goal is to enjoy homeschooling and not have it feel like a point of stress, what curriculum am I going to choose? (I already went through this step with homeschooling last week, but do you see the breakdown of following through with the goals and intents you set?)
When are we going to have breaks and take trips to ensure we are enjoying this year? (Brian and I sat down and actually penciled in one major vacation, an adults-only getaway, and three small trips to take as a family)
You can do this with any goal or focus, and I encourage you to! Follow-through is something that rarely happens, and I really think this is why! People don't write out how and when they're going to do things they'd like to see happen in their lives. This is the difference between a sayer and a doer.
This is a lot of planning. One thing I want to say here is that flexibility is KEY!
The heart of man plans his way, but God directs his steps.
The goal with this process (for me) is to be intentional, and to use the past year to reflect and learn and grow. I do not want to be stagnant; I want to leave a legacy of purpose behind me when I'm gone. That doesn't mean being a control freak or unadaptable. In fact, it means just the opposite.
I hope this helps you guys! Share your planning session with me on Instagram by tagging me! @allie_thatsme
Want to declutter your life this year?