I fell in love with paper planning in 2018 (probably one of the worst years of my life) or after several hardships, I decided that I was going to take my life in hand and that I was going to make a plan! I was in debt up to my neck and I didn't have a penny. So I went to Dollorama and bought a $2 note book. It was written '’Organized Chaos'' on it and I thought it fit well with what I was trying to do at the time. Lol.
I ended up making a close-up detailing how I was going to repay my debts, in how long. What I was going to do to improve my physical and mental health, what I was going to do to advance my career and even a 5 year plan affecting all aspects of my life.
4 years later by going back to see the plan I can say that I am exactly where I wanted to be and probably even further. So we can say, goal accomplished! Since then, I do my annual planning every year at the beginning of the year. But this little anecdote is a good example to show that you don't have to be in January to make a plan. I think I did my 2018 planning in October!
Why do an annual plan?
Every year, doing my annual planning is one of my favorite moments. It is a ritual with myself that brings me a lot of happiness and peace. I really have a great sense of accomplishment when I finish my planning!
Planning is also a walk in space-time. We start by reflecting on the year that has just ended and giving feedback on our good and less good moves. Then we move into the present. What are our needs right now? Are you currently where you would like to be in your life? What would we like to change? What would we like that stays the same? This reflection then transports us to the future and our vision of it. This is how we succeed in building a tailor-made life, which resembles us.
If you perceive an entire year as the worst mountain to climb, fear not. You are exactly where you need to be. One step at a time and you will be fine :). So take a deep breath and follow these tips!
Annual planning does not mean writing a novel detailing how the 365 days of the year will unfold. What is important is to have the outline. Complicating yourself only makes the task more complicated than it really is.
I therefore advise you to operate in point of form. That way, you know where you're going without having to think about all the little steps on the way to getting there. For example, let's say I want to give myself a savings goal I go like this:
- 10 000$
How to get there?
- TFSA: $300/month
- RRSP: $200/month
- Learn day trading
- Subscribe to life insurance
That's all! You have an idea of the goal, the path, without getting lost in the details that you would have the chance to determine anyway along the way.
Be (semi) realistic
Here, the reason I add the semi in parentheses is because this point is nuanced. Setting big goals is always yes. You know I'm a huge believer in manifestation and I believe that to "Speak into existence" your desires will only send a message to the universe to put that into action for you!
However, I want to advise you to be careful. It is not enough to just set yourself huge goals without having any idea of the way to get there. You still have to take your dreams into your own hands and take the steps to achieve them.
Also be careful not to create more pressure on yourself than necessary by setting goals that are completely opposite to your current reality. For example, if you hate exercise and it's been 5 years since you last moved. I advise you not to set yourself the goal of doing crossfit 7 times a week from January 1st... It's almost lost before you even start.
Instead, if your goal is to start exercising and you know you hate it and it's even a chore for you, I'd suggest something like this instead:
- move more
How to get there?
- Find a way to move that I enjoy
- Try 1 new sport every two weeks?
- Try to move a little every weekend
It's much more achievable as a goal while presenting a challenge for someone who doesn't like to move. Remember to be indulgent with yourself and that life will inevitably get in your way to achieving your goals. Everyone is busy, why not factor that into your annual planning?
Divide your annual plan into sections
It seems almost obvious, but when you set up to do an annual plan, you don't always have the right tools to get there.
Indeed, I suggest dividing all aspects of your life into sections. This way, it's easier to think through your goals, one at a time. Here's how I suggest breaking down your goals:
- Personal development
Psst. The Bleu Latte & Co. weekly planner has a specially designed layout to help you focus on one aspect of your life at a time when planning your year. Everything is there to make your life easier :). for more info, it's here
How to get there?
Now that you have a goal, you need a game plan! There's nothing like setting goals and having no idea how to achieve them to miss your shot!
For me, that's the most fun part. That's how the magic works. If you're lost and know where you want to be, but not sure how to get there, the best option is to do some research. OK, you want to double your salary this year. It's good. How to do? Unfortunately, it will not fall from the sky. Are you going to start a side hustle? If yes, what? Are there interesting job opportunities elsewhere? Would you like to invest more passively?
All roads lead to Rome. Which will you take?
Again, no need to get too detailed. You can very well have a rough idea of what you will do without knowing all the daily actions that it involves.
Plan everything you can in advance
Another fun part of yearly planning is putting everything you can on your agenda ahead of time. By that I mean, all birthdays, days off, vacations, trips, appointments and all important dates! It really gives you plenty of bots to be excited and motivated about the year ahead of you.
Also, a good thing is to start quietly taking the actions that will lead you to your goal (I advise you to do the first week or the first month only). Try to watch all this in your daily life and put it in your agenda. It's a good opportunity to make adjustments if you see that in the end it won't fit well and also to get a first visualization of what awaits you for this new year!
Write in lead pencil
I know…we like beautiful colored pens, but please don’t make the mistake of doing your annual planning in permanent ink! Doing it in lead pencil gives you a lot more slack to tweak and tweak along the way (which is almost sure to happen). I make an annual plan for you as a living document. It needs some revisions during the current year to encourage feedback.
For example, every 3 months, it's a good idea to go back to your annual plan and ask yourself the same questions as when you designed it. How is it progressing? Are you where you want to be at this point in the year? It doesn't matter if the answer is no. The goals you have set for yourself may not correspond to your current reality and that is why you can modify them. No one can scold you, you only report to yourself!
Reaching your goals is rarely linear, from point A to point B. It's a long road full of twists and turns and that's okay :). You have to accept that and move on.
In short, you don't make a plan at the start of the year to close your planner and forget about it! You have to rework the plan, follow up and above all, have fun! That's part of the fun of planning. See your goals come true and the progress you make one day at a time!
With that, good plan!