How I Plan for a New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2018
I've been spending a lot of time lately reviewing my year and planning for next year and I'd like to share what all that entails for me in case one of you guys finds it helpful!

First up, I spend some time reviewing the past year. Last year for this review I rated different categories of my life from 1 to 10 (modeled around the Level 10 life, with the categories of relationships, home, mind & body, health, career & money and fun). This year instead of doing any ratings, I asked myself a few questions and recorded my answers. Here's what I asked myself:
  • What were your highs this year?
  • What were your lows this year?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What did you fail at?
  • What good habits did you have?
  • What bad habits did you have?
  • What was the best investment of your time this year?
  • What was the worst investment of time this year?
Once I had a good idea of how I felt about 2018, I turned to the future. To get my brain juices flowing about what I might want to focus on, I wrote down an aspirational vision of my future life. The goal isn't to make any measurable or realistic goals here. Instead you just write down what your perfect life would look like long in the future. What would make you happiest? Where would you be? Who would you be with? What would you do every day? What would you not be doing? Write down anything that's important to you, or that you wish you could be doing!

After I dreamt big, I scaled it back a bit and decided for the first time every to take a stab at a 5 year plan. I'm not the best at thinking that far in advance so it was certainly a challenging exercise! I didn't end up with a lot on my 5 year plan, but it was nice to think about how old I'll be at various times, where I might want to travel between now and then, how my finances might look and when, if ever, I might want to have kids. (I still can't believe that's even a thing I have to think about already!)

From the more reasonable 5 year time frame, I started brainstorming potential goals for this year. I wrote down ideas in all kinds of areas of my life and then whittled them down until I found 3 or 4 goals that seemed most important to me right now. Last year I had a goal for every area of my life and I found that it was just too much to manage, so this year I'm sticking to just a few so I hopefully be more effective.

With my goals in place, I also spent some time brainstorming how I wanted to track my progress effectively. In last year's bullet journal I simply wrote my goals in bullet list format at the beginning of my notebook, but I kept forgetting about them and didn't really set aside any time to make actionable tasks to accomplish them. This year I'm going to add quarterly reviews to my calendar, and I'm going to devote a 2 page spread every quarter to reviewing my progress with each goal and creating some tasks with with due dates to complete before the next check-in. That should help me progress nicely!

Finally, I devoted a morning to reviewing some of my routines and tools for managing my day-to-day life. To help me budget on a weekly, monthly, and long term basis, I have a big spreadsheet with a bunch of different sheets. I closed out my weekly spending tracker sheet for 2018 and created a new 2019 sheet. I refreshed my net worth tracker layout so that I can better differentiate between investments, cash, assets and debt and track the change between each month. I even created a new sheet to try out this year to track the dollars in, the dollars out, the dollars that get invested, and then ultimately calculate what percent my saving rate is. With all my money sorted out, I turned to my home. I reviewed last year's list of chores to make sure they were all still needed and to add any new ones, and then revised my cleaning routine around those changes. I also updated my list of house projects that need to be done and my wish list of items I need to buy or replace around the house.

I hope this helps motivate you to do a little refresh and planning session of your own! Having done it myself, I've got a good idea where I stand and what my goals are and I'm ready to start setting up my new bullet journal for 2019. Keep an eye out for a tour, coming soon! In the meantime, happy new year!
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