How to: Plan for the Year Ahead

Earlier this week, my sister left for a study abroad trip with some friends, which reminded me of my own experience with a similar trip about this same time five years ago. I remember spending New Year's Eve in Paris, just under the Eiffel Tower. The next morning, before we set out on our adventures, I also remember sitting in the kitchen of the rented apartment. In those few hours before the others awoke, I attempted to plan for the year ahead. 

Admittedly, I didn't live up to many of those goals. I was a college student, trying to grow up while also trying to enjoy various aspects of that season (classes, clubs, socials, church groups). In the years that have followed, I've made various attempts at "New Year's Resolutions." I've been super granular and regimented in some years; in others, I wrote off the "resolution craze" all together. 

This year, though, I hope to carry last year's lessons with me, which has me somewhere in the middle of where I've been in the past. It's what I'll call "somewhat planned."

With that in mind, I've listed out some thoughts for you, as you think about hopes and dreams for 2018. And as always, feel free to comment below with your own thoughts and experiences. I'd love to converse. 

  1. To start, ask yourself, "What is the point?" I'm a firm believer that it's a good idea to know from the start what you're doing and why you're doing it. It helps organize the details that will follow. 
  2. After reflecting on this, think of a word or phrase that will serve as the "North Star" when writing your goals. Mine for 2018 are "invest and build."
  3. Next, think of a list of quotes, Bible verses, or mantras that help further illustrate the feelings that you have towards the year ahead. (See Proverbs 16:9 and Luke 16:10)
  4. When you get to the goal setting part, I would group them by life categories. Mine this year are "Faith, Family, Finances, Friends, Fitness, Fun, and Future/Work." (I like alliteration!)
  5. When you have your categories nailed down, I suggest only listing 2-3 goals under each one. If you think of a list of 100 things, any sense of being overwhelmed will likely keep you from actually doing any of them.
  6. Try to have a deadline or timeline attached to each one for accountability. 
  7. Once you have them written, leave it alone for a day, then come back with a fresh set of eyes.
  8. When you're finished, prepare them in a format that will make it easy to access regularly throughout the year. Use sticky notes on a bedroom mirror or wall, or print out multiple copies on sturdy paper to place in various rooms that you use year-round.
  9. Find a friend or family member to share them with, so they can encourage you along the way. 
  10. Lastly, don't be discouraged if life takes its course and the Lord shows you other things throughout the year. While it's good to have a "final draft" early in the year, this should also be a "living and breathing" exercise—it's okay to edit your goals.

Ultimately, I pray that you've had a restful holiday season with friends and family, and I hope what's listed above can help as you think about the exciting (and maybe surprising!) things to come.