Over the last three years, business owners have had to ride many unexpected waves. I’m sure more than a few of your year-ahead plans were ruined because of lockdowns, illness, loss, and kids learning from home. And these kinds of unpredictable circumstances can make a year-ahead plan seem useless. Yet, I believe it makes them even more important!
When you have a plan made, you can anchor yourself into what’s important to you. Even if you have to change things up, you have somewhere solid to start.
Keeping your plan adaptable, agile, and big-picture is the key when the whole world, or just the economy, seems a little shaky.
The three things I see most people do wrong when they plan a year are:
Today, I will address these with my five most potent tips for planning your year.
If you caught my last blog, then (hopefully) you’ve already done a lovely little review of your past year. If you haven’t, check out “A Quickie Year In Review — That You’ll Actually Do” before you get started on planning your year ahead!
Doing this review is so important because it reminds you of how far you’ve come, shows you what’s possible in a year, and helps you create realistic goals for the year ahead. I also love a year-in-review process for revealing things that could have gone better so you can improve next year based on what you’ve learned.
As I mentioned, overestimating what you can do in a year is a massive problem with year-ahead planning. We can really get ambitious when we’re looking at 12 months on paper. After all, it seems like so much time!!!
The best way to counteract our tendency to overestimate our capacity to achieve in a year is to choose one, yes one, big, huge, juicy goal for the year.
Imagine sitting in this same place one year from now, celebrating. What are you celebrating? Get into the vision of it! What’s THE THING that would knock your socks off to accomplish by the end of next year?
Choose a goal that is tangible and outcome-oriented. For example, “I will launch my course and teach it to my first group of students by the end of 2023.”
Notice I didn’t say how many students, how much I’d make in sales, or when I would launch. When you state your big goal, keep it broad and big-picture.
From there, you can break down your big goal into smaller milestones and then actionable steps that you can take to make those milestones happen along the way.
You can pencil in the details from there. I want to emphasize ‘pencil in’ because if you plan on launching in April and then aren’t ready to, I don’t want you caught up in feeling like a failure. This is your goal for the year, so you can just keep persistently working on your launch and do it at the right time. That could be September once the year is underway!
You can see the power of outlining milestones and actionable steps, too. They aren’t time and date bound. They just progress in order as slowly or quickly as you work through them.
PRO TIP: I find goals like, “I will be on five podcasts every month,” get discouraging quickly. Getting on podcasts takes time, and you’ll likely spend a month or two just researching, pitching, or hiring someone to get you on those podcasts! Broaden your goals beyond monthly habits. Think about the impact you want to make.
Routines and reminders aren’t all that sexy or exciting on their own, but the power of what they can do for you sure is! When you lock in your routines and reminders in a way that works for you, magic happens. And I’m here to hype them up.
Once you’ve outlined your big, knock-your-socks-off goal for the year, look at the actionable steps you defined. Think about the new routines you could work into your already existing ones to help get you to this goal by the end of the year.
Your yearly goal should be simple enough to review or remind yourself each week. You could even just set a reminder on your phone to go off every Monday that says, “Course launch 2023. You’re on your way!!!”
Then, each month and each quarter, do a more in-depth check-in. Don’t let your annual plan become buried in your Google Docs. Never to be seen again!
When will you check in with your annual plan each month and each quarter?
The other reason it’s important to focus on one big goal every year is that it leaves room for you to be flexible enough to have personal time and space in your year. Set 2-3 personal goals that will help support you in being the best you can be at home and at work.
Answer these questions to explore what your personal goals will be:
As you plan your year, keep in mind the flexibility that you’ll need to accomplish your big goal. Things don’t always unfold the way we want them to, and that’s okay. It’s called being a human.
You could probably see this perfectly in hindsight when you did your year in review. You could look back at the unexpected obstacles you overcame, what threw you off course, and what turned out even better than you could have ever imagined.
And while a year-ahead outline with milestones is crucial to bending and flexing your plan, so much of staying flexible is a mindset! Here are a few beliefs you can adopt to adapt to your circumstances as your year unfolds.
Keeping a loose plan for the year will help ensure you’re on track to hit your goals while still allowing life to happen.
Planning for the year ahead is always more fun with a biz bestie or coach. When you’ve got company, you’re more likely to push your limits just a bit, and you’re more likely to stick to the plan.
There’s just something special about having another set of eyes and another brain on your plan. That’s why I do Strategic Planning Sessions with my clients.
Not only am I another set of eyes and a brain, I’m also a whole heap of systems, productivity, and organizational wisdom that can help you make the most of your year-ahead plan.
You can check out and book your session here.
December 27, 2022