I’ve made it no secret how I feel about planning. I’m totally lost without a plan. When I’m stressed, one of the best ways for me to relax is to sit down and plan. I love planning! And alongside that, goals are my jam. It’s why this time of year is one of my faves. But those that don’t particularly like planning might wonder what the point is. Is it really necessary to set goals and plan your year?
My answer: It’s absolutely necessary and there are a lot of valid reasons for doing so!!!
When You Don’t Know Where You’re Headed
Have you ever been caught up in the day-to-day routine of life–school drop off, diaper changes, swim lessons, cooking, cleaning, etc.–then wondered, “What am I doing with my life? What’s my purpose?”
This happened to me in 2016. I was running full speed in life, saying yes to all sorts of things. But I had no sense of direction for what I really wanted my life to look like. And I got burnt out fast. All of a sudden my life was pulling me in all sorts of different directions (most of them good ones!), but I knew I couldn’t keep doing them all. I had to really sit down and think about what I wanted for me, my family, and our life.
I figured out pretty quickly that I needed to get clear on what I wanted BEFORE I made decisions. What I needed was a plan. Now I have a better handle on what my purpose is and what direction I want my life to go in.
1. Plan Your Year to Gain Direction and Purpose
Sitting down and looking at the year ahead allows you to go into the year with a basic map of sorts. Sure, you might not know the exact path to take, but you know the final destination, and therefore the direction you’re headed. You’ve looked at how the previous year went, so you know what you want to change going forward. You’ve looked at the upcoming year, the big events, the predicted milestones or foreseen life changes (a baby, a move, graduation etc.), so you know what’s coming up and what you need to do to prepare. Obviously life can (and will!) throw curveballs you aren’t expecting, but you’re at least prepared for the things you DO know are coming.
For example, let’s say family time is really important to you. You know that over the summer your husband will be studying to take the BAR exam and will have very little extra time. Knowing this, you can plan more family time into your schedule in the months before his studying and just after the exam, to account for the lack of family time in the middle.
Planning your year in advance will give you an outline to help you get to where you want to go.
When Life Throws You Off Your A-Game
Your morning is going great: you worked out, made a healthy breakfast for the whole family, read a book to the kids, and got the oldest off to school. You have a long to-do list to tackle, but you’re feeling great about how the day is unfolding. You’re gonna ROCK THIS DAY!
You load the kids up to tackle some errands, but as you pull the baby out of the carseat to head into the store, you realize he had a blowout. Poop is all over him, his clothes, the carseat. Everywhere. You grab the diaper bag and use an entire container of wipes to clean the poop off him and the carseat. You reach for the extra set of clothes…only to realize that you forgot to replace them after last week’s spit-up incident.
So you run home to grab a new outfit. Once you get there, the toddler starts complaining about being hungry, so you get her a snack, then realize the carseat needs to be cleaned. You decide to run it through the wash while you tackle a few more to-dos and run the errands when it’s dry. By then, the baby is hungry, so you have to feed him. And by the time that’s done, the toddler just wants you to play.
Next thing you know, it’s 4:15, you never ran the errands, and nothing else got checked off your list. So much for being productive! Now you’ve got thirty minutes before it’s time to tackle dinner and the bedtime routine. You look at your long to-do list and freeze. You probably only have time for one thing, so what do you choose?
Does this scenario sound familiar to anyone? 🙋
2. Plan Your Year to be More Intentional About Your Time
This is where planning your year comes into play. What’s your priority for the year? Where do you want to be at the end of December? Now look at your list: what item will get you the closest to that?
If your goal for the year is to finally get your home organized, maybe you’ll choose “straighten the kitchen” from your list because you know when the house is a mess, clutter builds up quicker. If your goal is to be a more intentional mom, maybe you’ll choose to sit down and finally help your son build his new Lego set. Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds, so you’ll choose to meal prep for the rest of the week.
With a year plan in place, you can be more intentional about your day-to-day decisions. You know what your priorities are, so you can make the choices necessary to get yourself where you want to go, no matter how many curveballs life throws at you. Your yearly plan feeds into your monthly plan, which feeds into your weekly plan, which feeds into your daily plan, which adjusts based on emergencies and unforeseen events (thanks, kids!). If you don’t know where you’re headed, you can’t possibly know what to focus on in each moment.
(Find this cute 2018 calendar over at inkhappi!)
When You Can’t Stop Saying Yes
As moms, I think we know all too well what it feels like to over-schedule and over-commit ourselves. You know, that moment when you look at your life and realize you have three places to be at once, or four big projects due in the same week, or three events you’re helping with in the same weekend. It’s not a good feeling! It’s stressful and overwhelming and sometimes impossible. And that causes us to snap at our kids, which causes them to act up, then our distant nature drives a wedge in our marriage, and…it’s just a bad situation overall.
Remember the burnout in 2016 I mentioned earlier? Well, a big reason this burnout happened was because I kept saying yes to people and things:
- Sure, I’ll do that.
- Of course I’ll help!
- Ooh, pick me!
- That sounds fun.
- I want to do that!
I said yes to any and every opportunity that came my way because I wanted to do it all and I didn’t want to let anyone down. And I figured that doing everything would get me to where I wanted to go. But in reality, it got me further and further away. It can be hard to say no–especially when all the opportunities are worthy ones–but we just can’t do it all.
3. Plan Your Year to Not Over-Schedule or Over-Commit
Planning your year means you know what your priorities are, which takes the guesswork out of a lot of decisions. You already know what you want and have a rough idea of how to get there, so you don’t have to dwell on choices. Will the decision take you closer to your goals? Is this commitment in line with what you want out of life? Does it align with your family values? If not, say no.
For example, if you want to expand your side hustle this year, and your daughter’s teacher asks for volunteers for Room Mom, you can feel good about saying no to that this year. And this year is key. Maybe next year your priorities will change and it will be the perfect year to be Room Mom! Saying no now doesn’t mean saying no forever.
Or maybe you join a book club, then realize the PTO meetings are scheduled at the same time. If you set a goal to spend more time with friends and to read more books, maybe this year isn’t the year you’ll attend every PTO meeting. Ask a neighbor to take notes for you, and let the PTO president know you’d love to help out with fundraisers even though you can’t attend meetings. With your year plan in place, you’ll be less likely to over-schedule or over-commit yourself.
Spending an hour or so planning your year now can give you purpose and direction, help you be intentional about how you spend your time, and make sure you don’t stretch yourself too thin and burnout by May. Seems like a no-brainer to me 😜. But then again, I love to plan.
Do you plan your year in advance? If so, why?