• Nikki Hynes

10 Steps to Plan for the New Year


There is something about a new year that just feels like a clean slate. That fresh start to begin again and focus on something we want to achieve seems to come over all of us as December comes to a close. I feel like so many people are just ready for 2020 to be done and after all of the chaos we may have felt this year. If you're wondering how to plan for the new year, keep reading because I am sharing 10 Steps to plan for the new year.


Most of us start by purchasing planners, thinking about goals we would like to accomplish in the new year and then excitement takes over at all of the possibilities ahead of us. However, we need to back up a little bit and pump the brakes here. Things do not magically change just because the ball drops and we flip to that brand new calendar with January front and center on it. We need to do a little bit of work leading up to that.


(If you are already in the new year and finding this post, don't worry, it's never too late to start fresh!)


1. Reflect on the year that is ending

In order to head into the new year with purpose, you need to know where you're at now. To do this, think about the year that is ending.

  • How did it go for you?

  • What went well?

  • What didn't go so well?

  • How could you have done things differently?

  • What do you wish you did that you did not?

  • What made you happy and you want to do more of in the coming year?

In order to find out what you need to do to begin, you need to figure out where you are. Knowing your starting point is an important step. Unfortunately there is no Google Maps option for life.


Want to reflect deeper? Check out this post Why Self Reflection is so Important


2. Find Closure


As you sit and answer the questions above, feelings and emotions are going to kick in. You need to lean into these and not run from them. We tend to try and avoid being uncomfortable, but it's not until we Own Our Own Sh*t that change can happen.


As Elsa from Frozen told us all many times.... Let it Go.... and this goes for our environments too! Clear the clutter and ditch anything that doesn't make you happy anymore. We want our environments to reflect how we wish to feel to the best of our current ability.


3. Who are you?


Hopefully as you answer the questions from above you begin to get a picture of who you are as a person and what you want to achieve and feel.


This is a key part of goal setting because it's difficult to set goals when you don't know what you want in life. It's also difficult to define what success looks like to you when you have no clue what you stand for and want out of life.


Don't skip this step and just set goals for the sake of setting goals!


4. What is your purpose?

Before you say you don't have one, that's nonsense. We all have one, many of us just haven't reflected enough to find it or we allow fear to make us blind to what it is. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to figure this out:

  • What talents do you have?

  • What are you passionate about?

  • What do you wish to learn more about and why?

  • What topics make you angry, sad, cry or feel raw emotions?

All of these questions help you to get to the core of what your purpose is. Once you identify these things write them down and spend some time doing them or thinking about them - you might surprise yourself when a direction begins to form.


5. Explore your fears


As I mentioned earlier, we tend to dislike being uncomfortable and we make a nice comfy nest within our comfort zones. We need to stop doing this. Nothing good ever comes this behavior.


Instead, we need to make fear our North Star. We need to use the things the scare us as a compass in life. I'm not saying to do dangerous things... I'm saying that we need to stop shying away from doing things because we are scared of the unknown. Instead, we need to learn about these things. Knowledge combats fear. We need to flex our confidence within ourselves and allow ourselves to live and learn. The things that scare us are often the things that take us to the next level in life when it comes to happiness and feeling fulfilled.


6. Make a Bucket List


By this point we should have quite a few notes and things we would like to try, learn and accomplish. Write them all down and create a bucket list. There is no deadline or timetable for these things. It is just a list of things that you would like to do during your time on this Earth. This is usually full of pleasure/fun things and it's great for pulling ideas and setting goals for the years ahead.


7. Create a Vision Board

I admit I am a total nerd with all of this stuff and I am a big fan of taking the bucket list to the next level by making it visual. This could be a fun evening with family and friends (in 2020 it could be a Zoom party - we want to stay responsible, right?!)


So how to do you create a vision board? I'm old fashion and I like to grab some foam board, glue sticks or double sided tape and some scissors to make mine. You can print photos for each of your bucket list items or if you still have magazines, cut photos out and create a piece of art that acts a constant reminder of what inspires you and what you want to achieve in life.


Not an arts & crafts person? I get it, that's cool! Open up an app like Canva and create a digital board for yourself. I still highly recommend printing it out and displaying it somewhere you can see it all the time, but you could make a phone or laptop wallpaper out of it as well. Get creative!


8. Pick your goals for this year

Now that we have done all of this work it's time to set some goals! Look over your lists and pick a few things that you believe you can achieve this year. I am a big fan of having a mix of simple and stretch goals on the list.


Simple goals help us to build confidence and momentum.

Stretch goals help us to ensure we are stretching our learning and development as people.


Goals should have to be work but they shouldn't psych you out and make you feel bad about yourself.


9. Upgrade your habits


Being honest about your habits is really make or break when it comes to achieving goals. We all have bad habits and we all have habits that we are consistent at. Figure out which bad habits can block you from achieving your goals and find a replacement habit for it.


(I highly recommend the books Atomic Habits and The Compound Effect)


This is truly a crucial step for success when it comes to goals. Writing down pros and cons of habits is another great way to identify patterns of behavior that need to change.


10. Review Your Goals Often


You can't tell if you're on track to achieve your goals if you only write them in January and then never look at them again.


Schedule monthly check-ins, as well as quarterly reviews, so you can look at your progress and adjust habits/behaviors or even the goal itself. If you are are giving it your all and the progress is slower than you anticipated, its okay to adjust expectations and the goal.


Read more about being flexible with your goals in this article.


I hope you found some value in these 10 steps to plan for the new year. Goal setting can be intimidating and scary for a lot of people but they are so important if you want to change your day to day life and make a difference.


Just remember that large goals can be broken down into smaller achievable goals and many of those bucket list items are a marathon, not a sprint.


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