Let's start 2021 already, shall we? I won't rehash why- we know 2020 has been a dumpster fire. You were there. I was there. It wasn't fun.
And January 1, 2021 isn't going to be some magic date when suddenly everything that made 2020 such a nightmare ends! So I decided to end my 2020 right now, and move ahead with planning my next year as if it's 13 months long.
I know, these might be fighting words for some people. But I have a history of doing my "new year's review and planning" work at various times of the year, so it works for me!
This is a process, and it takes me several days to go through it all so I don't wear myself out. I want to share my tools with you so if you decide to follow my lead and move into your next "you", you've got somewhere to start.
Step 1- Wrap Up 2020
First- I pull cards.
You don't have to do this. I don't always do this when I plan, even. But this year I did, and I think it really helped me.
I used this deck and asked 4 questions:
Next, I look back over 2020. Years ago I saved worksheets from Jamie Ridler Studio, about "Celebrating the Season that Was" and "Imagining the Season Ahead". Since then, she's expanded and refined her work into a "yearbook", but her original sheets still serve me well.
I also use an out-of-print New Year's Workbook by Maia Toll, I think from an early iteration of her Witch Camp. I've written more about the journey she took us on in previous New Year's posts, like this one.
Other tools you can use are Susannah Conway, Martha Beck, Hannah Bullivant, Tara Mohr, and more. This year I also plan to do Maia Toll's Winter: Journey of Inanna course again- it's an intense dive into shedding what you think you are and what you want to be, and laying your actual soul bare. I haven't gone through it in a few years, but I'm absolutely feeling it this year.
Step 2- Look Ahead
Much of the work I do to look over 2020, that I described in step 1, has looking ahead work built into it. Especially the New Year's Workbook- that's when I choose my WotY (Word of the Year)! This is one of my favorite exercises. The years when I've hung onto my WotY have been the most impactful for me. In full disclosure, I don't remember what my WotY was for this year, and only have a vague idea about where to even look for it...
Anyway, once I've wrapped up these structured practices, I start a writing journey. Many people call it a "painted picture"- simply, you imagine every detail of your life in one day of the future.
My step 3 will be detailed planning for the coming year, so I'm going to explore a painted picture of my life three years from now, in 2023. Three years seems do-able to me- five years is too big a leap, and I'm already planning out one year, and I like the number 3. None of this is an exact science!
I'll also go through Racheal Cook's Plan Your Best Year Ever challenge. It's a 5 day event, but I've done it a number of times now so I can skip over some redundant or extraneous (to me) bits.
The point is, by reviewing the details of 2020 and dreaming ahead to 2023, when I start to work on 2021 in the next step I'll have really grounded myself in the reality of where I've been, as well as oriented myself towards where I'm trying to go. I've spent a lot of time, as my business coach describes it, like an octopus in roller skates- going nowhere furiously. This is how I put myself on rails and pre-set my direction going forward.
This might be the best time for me to highlight one of the quotes I live by:
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
It is IMPORTANT that you not be too precious about all this! If you don't make a plan, you won't get anywhere. But making a plan is really about just starting your journey- don't get attached to the steps of the plan, because I can guarantee you that they will diverge from your expectations almost immediately.
This isn't cause for cognitive dissonance. We contain multitudes, including the ability to both make beautiful plans and allow them to be composted at any time. We have to make the plans and allow for change. We're not machines- we are nature.
Step 3: Get Specific About Next Year
Having said all that about planning, it's about to seem like I'm contradicting myself. Remember, we contain multitudes. Let's wade in.
Now that I've looked back and into the farther-off future, I'm ready to dig into what's immediately in front of me. I'm doing this with Racheal Cook, my business coach and mentor. In preparation for her Q1 CEO Retreat coming up, she's given us a bunch of steps to break it all down. Essentially, the steps are:
At the end of the retreat, I have a pre-planned quarter in front of me! I usually end up changing my mind or switching things around- remember, don't be too precious. The important thing is that now I'm not randomly or spontaneously making it up as I go along, and I can be confident that these are the right steps for me to take. I planned them with an eye to my bigger picture, even if week-to-week I'm not zooming back out to re-examine that picture.
This process will take me a few days, so I have time to rest and clear my head before diving back in for the next bit.
It's not the same every year, and sometimes I do it more than once a year. But In some capacity, at least every winter, I cast my memory back and my imagination ahead, then I stare down the upcoming calendar.
I know we're not going to talk about, you know, the dumpster fire. But I will say that adding in that last step, where I drill down into the immediate future and reverse engineer my goals into weekly tasks for my next quarter, saved my game this year.
I did her Best Year Ever challenge by myself in late January 2020, then joined her Collective and her virtual retreat in March. That means the Q1 retreat coming up will be my 5th run through for these steps, and all I can say is I can't believe this guidance and information has been there for years and I didn't know!
I usually don't regret not learning or experiencing something earlier than I actually do because I recognize that I wouldn't have been ready or accepting earlier- but not this. If you need to get your business in order, start with her Best Year Ever work today. This isn't an ad, I'm just that inspired by it!
So this is my New Year's Plan for 2020-2021, starting now. By December 1 2020, I'll be living in 2021 already. Wonder if that means I'll learn to write the correct year faster? But '2020' is so easy to type! If you have your own routine, or if you try mine and like it, I'd love to hear from you.
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