Making a plan for the year can be your secret weapon for success. Year planning allows you to set goals and be more prepared for the upcoming year. Imagine how good it'll feel achieving everything you set out to accomplish.
Yes, life is unpredictable and a good system can easily unravel from the complexities of life. Yet if you have goals in place, you’ll be better equipped to handle the surprises that happen.
Are you ready to have a successful year?
In this article, you'll learn how to plan your year by reflecting on the past and setting mini-goals.
In addition, you'll learn how to stay organized with your finances, career, business, relationships, and self-care for the year ahead.
Why is it important to map out each year?
When you plan for the year, you allow yourself to prioritize the most important things in your life. With a system in place, it's easier to set goals and take action to achieve those goals.
But before you break out that calendar, here are some pre-planning steps.
Planning and preparation
Organizing the next 365 days of your year requires preparation. As the quote from Thomas S. Monson says "The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. "
A lot can happen in a year, which is why it’s important to look back on what you’ve learned.
Reviewing and taking into account the year that is ending, helps you paint a clear vision for the future. Here is what to focus on when you review the previous year.
Celebrate your wins
It can be easy to focus on where you want to be and forget to appreciate where you've been. Before you think about organizing your year, take a moment to celebrate your wins. No matter the size of your accomplishments, it's essential to appreciate the journey you've been on.
A great way to honor your achievements is to make a list of them. Once you've reviewed the list you can hang them up to use for motivation in the future.
Identify areas of growth
Once you’ve patted yourself on the back, now it’s time to take a more critical look at the past year.
Take time to see what things didn’t go as you thought they would. What roadblocks stood in your way from achieving your goals? What distractions stopped you from staying focused?
Keep in mind you are trying to identify your areas of growth, and not be overly critical of yourself. To help with this reflection, imagine your life as a garden. In your field of flowers and plants, there are some areas that have blossomed and some that have withered away.
Think about how you can give a little extra attention to the areas in your life that are lacking growth.
Set mini goals
Now that you have reflected on your past, it’s time to set some good goals for the future.
When setting goals it’s important to set both large and mini goals. In fact, the mini goals will help you achieve the bigger goals.
Mini goals are smaller short-term goals that are connected to your larger or long-term goals. As an example, if you want to get a new job, a mini goal could be updating your resume, or learning a new skill.
Creating mini goals helps you to create a more direct path to success.
Steps to plan your year
When figuring out how to organize your year, you can follow these simple steps for success.
1. Create time for planning
In order to successfully map out the year you need to take the time to make a plan.
Ideally, you want to set aside an hour or two to create your plan for the year. It’s important that you create this pocket of time with little to no distractions.
Put your phone on airplane mode, lock yourself in your office, or head to your local coffee shop or library. You want to decide on your goals in a place where you feel creative and productive.
Once you know when you’re going to plan, the next step is finding the right tools for your year planning.
2. Choose the correct scheduling tool
The number one tool in making a plan for the year is a calendar. With this tool, you have two main options, a physical or digital calendar.
How to organize a year with a physical calendar
Having an agenda book, or even a simple wall calendar can be very helpful if you are a tactical person. Physical calendars can help you remember important events because you have to write them down. This tool usually works best if you have a concrete schedule with little to no changes.
If you’re someone whose schedule is a little more spontaneous you’ll want to consider a digital calendar.
How to plan a year with a digital calendar
Digital calendars are very useful as they can be easily changed. They are also convenient because they can be used on your computer and mobile device. Additionally, they can be shared with others.
There are many benefits to using a digital calendar for the year. With their additional tools such as setting reminders and alerts, you can be more aware of upcoming events.
Use both a digital and physical calendar
Depending on how your life is set up, it might be helpful to use both types of calendars. A physical calendar can be great for personal use such as remembering birthdays, children’s sporting events, and vacations. A digital calendar can be used for business, meetings, and conferences.
Keep in mind there will be some events that overlap on both calendars.
Other scheduling and organization tools
In addition to using a calendar, there are other software tools that can help you plan for the year. Tools such as Asana, Trello, and Monday.com can help you manage different clients and projects.
Besides these digital tools, other handy tools include creating to-do lists and timelines to help complete certain goals and assignments.
3. Create daily and weekly routines
Having a daily and weekly routine helps you to create structure in your life. As lifehack.org points out, routines take the stress out of choosing what you need to do every day. It allows you to automatically be productive and set yourself up for success.
A daily routine can consist of, having a morning routine, a self-care routine, and a nighttime routine.
Weekly routines are things you will do on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to help you achieve your goals. This can be creating a weekly exercise routine, budgeting weekly, or spending time with friends and family once a week.
Mapping out your finances for the year
If thinking about next year's finances makes your palms sweat, then creating a plan for the year can ease your anxiety. To bring you more ease, financial organization doesn’t have to be complicated. The next ideas will show you how to plan a year so your finances are in order.
Start by creating financial goals
Financial goals are just a plan to achieve something with your money. Which could be paying off debt, saving for college, creating an emergency fund, or buying a new car.
When you have your goal in mind the next step is to create mini goals. For instance, if you want to save $10,000 by the end of the year, a mini goal can be to save around $830 a month to achieve that goal.
Creating a budget calendar
A budget calendar is a way to keep your finances organized but in calendar form. In your agenda, you’ll include things such as due dates for bills, paydays, and debt payments.
With your finances added to your calendar, you’ll be prepared to make payments on time. It also helps you to better manage your money for upcoming expenses.
Plan your taxes for the year
Most people hate dealing with and even thinking about taxes until the last possible minute. Yet the avoidant strategy often leads to more stress the closer it comes to tax season. To avoid this anxiety you can think ahead.
Review taxes from the previous year
By looking at last year's taxes you can estimate what you might be paying for the coming year. If you made relatively the same as last year, you can expect to pay about the same in taxes.
If your income has dramatically increased, then you’ll want to put some extra money aside to pay for the difference.
Taxes for the new year
To stay on top of your taxes for the new year you’ll want to do an income projection. Once you know how much you'll make in the new year US Bank suggests the following:
- Reduce your taxable income by contributing to a retirement or health savings account
- Talk to a tax professional for extra support
These two strategies can help you reduce the amount of money you’ll have to pay in taxes.
Build an emergency fund
An emergency fund is valuable in case of loss of employment, a reduction in work hours, illnesses, or other emergencies. The recommended amount for an emergency fund is about 3 to 6 months' worth of salary.
With that number, divide it by 12 to see how much to save each month to build your emergency fund.
Create a system for paying off or managing debt
When you’re thinking about how to plan your year and manage your debt the best place to start is awareness. Make sure you know exactly how much you owe, your interest rate percentage, and your monthly payments.
With this information, you can use a debt pay-off calculator to see how long it'll take for you to pay off your debt.
If you want to pay off debt sooner, you can use different payment strategies. The snowball method is a common method that focuses on paying off the lowest amount first.
To stay on top of your debt payments, make sure to add payment due dates to your calendar. This way you'll never miss a deadline.
Planning your career goals for the year
With your finances set up your next step is to focus on your career. To do this think of a career goal that you want to reach some point in the year. This could be getting a raise, rising the ranks to a new position, or even starting a new career altogether.
With your big goal in mind, break it down into mini goals and add those mini goals to your calendar. For instance, if you want to get a raise by May, determine what you need to do weekly and monthly to achieve that goal.
If you happen to work for a large company you can also add in important company dates, such as quarterly reviews, and other major events.
Setting up your business year
For small business owners and solopreneurs, it's important that you do your business planning for the year.
Annual business planning according to Adobe.com serves as a roadmap for companies and their employees. It allows business owners to set their smaller goals to fulfill the overall mission and vision of the company.
Reflect on the previous year in business
To start off your business organizing, you’ll want to reflect on your previous year of business. Identify your business's previous achievements as well as previous issues.
Make, sure you look at various aspects of your business from sales to customer satisfaction.
Review your mission statement and values
Lastly, you’ll want to review your company's mission, vision, and core values. Yearly planning is a good time to adjust the mission and vision statement to reflect the current status of your business.
Planning relationships in the new year
How to plan your year doesn’t just focus on business and finances. It also involves preparing for major events in your life.
This includes adding birthdays, anniversaries, children’s soccer games, PTA meetings, and other events you’ll be attending in the new year.
Adding these social events to your calendar will help you to show up to these events prepared.
Organizing and scheduling your personal year
The last part is mapping out your personal year. This includes scheduling the fun aspects of your life such as vacations, holidays, and special time off.
During this time, it's crucial to not only schedule your annual trip to the Bahamas, or wherever you'd like to go, but to schedule self-care days. By setting these self-care days in your calendar you can prioritize self-care and avoid feeling burned out.
Make your year a success by thinking ahead!
With the additional responsibilities that happen at the end of the year, you may be tempted to figure things out as you go. This mentality will only come back to haunt you.
Making a schedule and goals for the year increases your chances of achieving your dreams. It also helps the coming year to be easier, more productive, and more fun.
Whether you choose to plan your year with a physical calendar or with a digital calendar remember to map out the following aspects: finances, career, business, social events, and personal time.
Keep in mind that your plan doesn’t have to be perfect. Set a good foundation with the basics, and allow some room for flexibility and spontaneity.
Remember a plan isn’t a ball and chain. Instead, a plan for the year is more like a GPS that guides you in having a successful year and helps you make positive changes in your life.