Posted in Planning

It’s not too late to create your best year ever! Here’s how.

We’re a month into the new year. If inventorying your calendar for last year was too overwhelming – PAUSE – and do it now. Look back at the last month. In January did you do the things you wanted to do? Were your calendars (family, work, social) filled with things that build you up, push you to do more, bring you joy OR were there too many appointments or things to do that drained your soul, weren’t adding value, held you back?

If you don’t take the time to create your best life – no one else is going to do that for you.

Take time right now to review your calendar for January and set a plan for February that sets you up for your best year yet. You’ve got 11 more months in this year – and NEWSFLASH – they are going to fly by! Are there things you want to do this year but haven’t started laying a plan for? What are you waiting for?!?!? Get on it!

Here’s how to get started with your plan for the best year ever:

  1. Those things that you can’t get off your mind or heart that you want to do/NEED to do – write them down. Write them all down. Maybe there’s just one thing. Maybe there are ten. Write them down.
  2. Pick one to start with or start with the one you wrote down. If you wrote more than one thing down in step one, maybe you pick the one that will bring you the most satisfaction once completed, maybe you pick the one you can get accomplished first.
  3. Now that you have the one you’re starting with, write down WHY this thing is so important to you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to do it. Maybe it’s something that will reconnect you to friends/family. Maybe it’s creating a legacy for those coming behind you. Why is this thing so important? Write it down. Recalling your why when you’re in the grind of working your plan will keep you focused on why you started this in the first place.
  4. What are your goals for this thing? Be specific. Performance is improved where performance is measured, right? It’s one thing to say that you’re going to complete a marathon, but if you walk most of it and aren’t satisfied with your performance at the finish line – then you didn’t accomplish your goal. I recommend having no more than 3 measurable goals that when you accomplish this thing, you will have this overwhelming sense of satisfaction in what you’ve done.
  5. Create the plan. You have your thing you’re going to do. You have your goals. Now write down the work that needs to happen. I recommend pencil, putting the tasks on post-it notes, or an online text editor so you can move the order of things around. I’m going to lay out an example here.
    My thing: Produce a 5K for my neighborhood
    Goals: 1. 500 runners, 2. ensure $500 in cash awards for 1/2/3 male/female winners, 3. 0 injuries/incidents for runners, spectators and volunteers. A safe event for all.
    Tasks:
    Get permit from the city
    Establish race start/finish location
    Establish race route
    Evaluate sanitation needs (port-a-jons, hand washing stations)
    Get 10 sponsors or $5,000 in sponsorship dollars
    Create 5K artwork
    Registration website
    Get event insurance
    Secure police/EMT support

    In the example above, I write down everything I can think of that needs to be done first then I put them in order. For example, I can’t apply for a permit with the city if I don’t have a start/finish, route, insurance nailed down. So there are some things that have to happen before other things and you need to make your task list such that you can re-order items or add/remove items as you work your plan.

  6. Execute. The work won’t do itself. Ask for help. Delegate. Measure your progress towards the goals you set for your thing. When the going gets tough recall your why. Remind yourself why you started this thing to begin with. You can do this and think about how accomplished you’ll feel when you’ve done it.

Note about timelines: I’m not big on creating timelines for my goals. I do think that timelines can help create a sense of urgency around the need to continue which can push us over a hump when motivation wanes or the burden seems too great in the midst of the grind. Timelines can help us cut our work into smaller bite-sized portions. However, know that timelines can shift. For most, becoming a best selling author won’t come after writing their first book. If your goal is to become a best selling author you’ll write until you become one and that timeline doesn’t have an end date, but creating shorter milestones on your path to becoming that best selling author via your writing deadlines for creating your materials. Don’t get stuck on having to lose 100 lbs in the next 11 months. Set yourself up for success. Don’t rush it. Use timelines to create small wins that generate momentum toward your larger goal. Make sense? You’ve got this! I believe in you!

Posted in Planning

How to Start a Daily Planner

I’ve been asked more often here lately about my thoughts for planners. I think it’s a natural response at big transition points like a new year to want to set yourself up for success. No one wakes up each day aiming to be mediocre, right? We want all the resources we can find that set us up for success each and every day. The first question I like to ask people when they ask me about my planner preferences is – Are you going to use it? You can spend all kinds of money on planners, but if you aren’t going to use it then that money would be better spent elsewhere (or saved).

If you’ve never used a daily planner before I suggest that you get yourself a cheap $0.79 spiral bound notebook or any other notebook you can re-purpose for 14 days. Think about what you want to capture in your daily planning. Do you need to capture meetings by time block? Do you need a quick view of the month or week? Do you want each day to have it’s own page or spread, or have a spread with multiple days? Do you need a to-do list? Do you want a weekly theme, affirmation or inspirational quote to be included? Are you introducing new habits (like meal planning) that you want to track progress with? Are you using this as a productivity tracker? What other things do you want to plan for daily (workouts, water intake, kid’s appointments, Bible reading, blogging)? Maybe you know you want to have a habit of planning each day, but you have no idea what to include. In that case Google “daily planner” and do some research on content different daily planners include. You can look at images online for different planners to spark ideas.

Don’t want to create your own daily planning pages? There are lots of free printable templates you can test in this process. Google “free daily planning template.”

In your cheap or re-purposed notebook, or on the printable template you selected, set the intention to plan for 14 days. If two or three days pass and you find that you want your daily planner to include something new – then include it. If there are things you thought you needed to track daily that you find you aren’t tracking then take those things out. This is YOUR planner and you can customize it every day until you have the core of the elements you want to plan for. Now that you’re at the end of your 14 days answer these questions:

  1. Did you find that you set your plan for the day in the morning or were you retrospectively reviewing the things you did/didn’t do that day?
  2. Did you find the daily planning exercise meaningful or was it just another “to-do” added to your list?
  3. Look back at the past 14 days of entries, are there things you wish you had captured or things you captured that you don’t need to?

Daily planning is an opportunity each day to set your intention so that you stay on track with your goals. If you don’t have a vision for where you want to go and a plan for how you’re going to get there – chances are you’ll never have the opportunity to live that vision. In question 2 above, if you didn’t find this daily process valuable, failed to complete your daily plan for each of the 14 days, or found it to be just something else you needed to work into your already busy day – I would encourage you to re-evaluate why you started the process. If you have a desire to create a new vision for yourself, to re-program habits, to track progress in a plan you’ve already started – make daily planning a priority. In my opinion, planning is best if done first thing in the morning because it sets your intention for the day. You can then keep a pulse on if you’re meeting that day’s intention as day progresses and flex as needed when issues or other priorities arise.

There are literally thousands of planners available on any budget. If you don’t get in the habit of using a daily planner and know what you want to plan for then you can waste a lot of money buying all of the wrong planners. So, again, if you didn’t complete your daily planning each of the 14 days and you’ve re-assessed the need for daily planning then try again. Before you spend any money on a planner, get in the habit of using a daily planner and know what types of things you want to plan for and track each day. Start again. Plan daily for 14 days making adjustments to the template you’re using. Keep doing this process of restating why you’re planning daily, understand how you like to plan your day until you have a clear vision of what you like and what you don’t like in a daily plan. You have your daily entries from your notebook as a guide for things you tried that didn’t work out and things you wanted to incorporate and maybe changed how you captured that each day.

Now that you’ve established a daily ritual of planning your day each day and know how you like to plan each day – now you can start looking for planners. WARNING: This process of finding a planner can be overwhelming. Don’t get frustrated and settle for a less than perfect planner. You’ll be back to square one – not using it – in no time because it doesn’t work for you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you start looking for a planner:

  1. Does it matter if my planner is hard cover of soft cover?
  2. Do I like a wire-bound notebook or do I want a solid, lay-flat spine?
  3. Do you want a re-usable planner cover that you can purchase and switch out the inner contents as needed?
  4. Will this planner stay on your desk or will you want to throw it in your bag and carry it with you?
  5. *Don’t freak out* Do you not want a physical planner at all, but maybe an app you access on your phone or computer?

Again, there are thousands of planners available – do your research and find one that will work for you. Google “planners”, “daily planners”, “productivity tracker”, “goal setting planner”. Visit your local bookstore or office supply store. Michael’s and other craft stores also usually have a great stock of planners at the start of a new calendar or school year. If a virtual planner or planning application is what you’re after read reviews, you can search for planning and productivity apps to see what’s out there. If you have friends or co-workers that have a daily planning habit, ask them what planner they use. Don’t settle. If push comes to shove take some time in Microsoft Word to put the planning template you created for your 14 day test period into a template that you can print copies of and put those copies in a spiral bound notebook or have them bound at your local office supply company. Who knows you may perfect that template and introduce a new planner to the world.

Posted in Planning

Start Today Journal: A Preview

I’m a sucker for new post-it notes, new pens and markers….new journals….and I recently managed to snag a Start Today Journal c/o one fabulous Ms. Rachel Hollis and I want to tell you all about it!

The first run of this journal came in 3 patterns (brushed gold, tortoise shell and Hope is Not a Strategy) and is currently sold out. 200,000+ people trying to purchase 4,000 journals literally broke the internet on October 12, 2018. I feel like it’ll be a Jeopardy question one day, so make a mental note. Rachel and Dave (her husband) assure us that more journals with new covers are coming. Can’t wait!

While we wait on for the next editions of this journal, I’ll tell you about the awesomeness you will find right out of the box.

Can I first start by saying that if you haven’t heard of Rachel Hollis or haven’t listened to her RISE podcast then check her out. She has a down to earth, no-nonsense way of approaching life that I find refreshing. We really could be BFFs if she knew I existed, but back to the journal….

On the first page (after the cover page) you and Rachel are BFFs. Bonus! In the next several pages Rachel shares with us the process she used for years to be intentional in creating the empire she oversees today. Taking her 10, 10, 1 approach she walks you through an exercise of writing with emphatic intention where you want to be in 10 years, 10  dreams you will accomplish and 1 goal that will get you to that 10 year version of yourself the fastest. Recently on the RISE Together podcast, Rachel posted her keynote speech. In that talk she walked audience members through a visualization exercise much like she’s walks you through at the beginning of this journal. I’d encourage you to find that episode from September 26, 2018 and listen to it before you start this journal. Lord knows there is nothing worse than getting a fresh new journal and feel like you ruined it from the start. The worst!

Once you have your 10, 10, 1 exercise done Rachel gives you more than 100 pages (136 to be exact) of daily templates you use to write down 5 things your grateful for, those 10 dreams that you WILL make happen, and the 1 goal you’re focused on right now. That goal can be the same every day until you realize it, or it can change as you learn something new about that goal that may cause you to break it down into smaller goals, or you find that you don’t need to accomplish that goal at all, in which case you will revisit your dreams and identify a new goal to focus on. The intent is to stay focused on the goal as long as it takes for you begin to live those dreams you set for yourself once upon a time. I’ll also add that starting every day from a perspective of gratitude is powerful. I’ve been practicing this attitude of gratitude for 28 days as part of Rachel and Dave’s Last 90 Days challenge and rather than dreading what I need to do that day or the next day, I’ve been focusing on what and who I’m thankful for and I find I get so much more done when the intention is set on being grateful rather than feeling obligated.

At $24 per journal (that was the launch price in October 2018) I’d encourage you to add this gem to your toolbox and buy one for a friend. If you don’t have the $24 just know that you can use any ol’ piece of paper or notebook you have lying around to start this process. There are images of the journal’s insides on Instagram (link above). Just start the process. Meant to be so much more intentional than a running to do list that can seem trite and overwhelming. It takes you out of the day-to-day churn of life and gets you really focused on the bigger picture of who you want to be and what you need to do to get there.