Wrapping up This Year & Planning for Next Year

2005-01-01 00.00.00-64It’s the time of year when I begin reflecting on what I’ve accomplished and what goals I never got to, among other things. You’ll notice goal planning, Yule, Christmas, and New Year posts coming up on the Facebook page, and those will help you to get started on the coming year. If you haven’t already joined the page, now is an excellent time to do so. You wont want to miss anything.

Let me ask you something: Have you started the process of reflecting and planning yet?

  • If you have, good for you! Maybe this post will help you to gain more insight.
  • If you have not, then this post will definitely help you along your way.

Grab a notebook and a pen, and let’s get started with these ideas. Oh, and if you want to get more creative, feel free to doodle, color, add stickers, or do whatever you want. You are making a planning notebook, and we are creative souls!

Reflection: One of the first steps in planning is reflection.

Take a few days to reflect on the current year, and start a page in your notebook for these reflections. It’s okay to use more than one page for this. What big goals have you met so far? What little goals have you met? Don’t worry if you haven’t accomplished something important, there is still time. Or you can always move that item to next year.

There’s no point in stressing over what we couldn’t get to. As long as you have met client deadlines, you can be happy with what you’ve accomplished. My goals list is so big each year, there’s no way I can get to everything of my own. But I always finish projects for others.

What things worked for the different aspects of your business? What things didn’t work? Don’t worry if you aren’t an expert in some areas. You don’t have to be. You’ll progress naturally. And if something did not work out, scrap it and try something new. Don’t base your success on the things that don’t work. Keep what works, and repeat any time it is relevant.

I hate editing, so I still have tons of manuscripts in final edit stage. However, I did manage to get a lot of editing done myself, and my daughter is doing the final edits for my fiction work in her spare time. I’ve also learned to make (a bit) better eBook covers and other graphics, and I’m learning more tricks all the time. So, until I can afford a professional editor and someone to do all my graphics, I know I have to schedule time for learning more about these tasks. Not too much time, mind you. But a little here and there.

What aspects of the business have you loved doing? What aspects do you hate? You don’t want to spend too much time on activities you can’t stand doing. I love to write, but editing is not my friend. I put off publishing for years because of my hate for editing and my inability to do graphics. (I’d hate to see this happen to you.)

I spent years second-guessing my ability to be successful based on these things and this year decided I was done. I took what I’ve learned in these areas over the last couple of years and put them into action. I got a little help with editing when I could, and learned some about graphics.

My eBook covers and graphics are not perfect, but I’m not letting that stand in the way of my goals again. You shouldn’t let the aspects you don’t like, or have enough confidence in, stop you. Go for it!

What items on your list were you unable to finish? Now is the time to decide if those projects are still important. It’s okay to let things go if they are not, or to shelve them just in case you want to get back to them in a year or two. You’re going to want to concentrate on the most important things to you in the coming year.

I started the first of a series of eGuides this year, but was unable to finish. I had a lot on my plate and it seemed I wanted to concentrate more on getting some fiction stories published, including a series. I also published non fiction works. I’m thrilled to see them published, but I definitely want to get back to the eGuides.

I also had editing projects that didn’t get done. Many of them. This means I have no shortage of my own projects to work on in the coming year, and this is fine. As long as I get some more of my own projects published, I’ll feel successful.

What projects did you not get to this year? Decide whether or not they are still important, and either add them to next years’ goals list, get rid of them, or shelve them to do in a year or so.

Now reflect on other areas of your life: Family, friends, personal, finances, home, and spirituality, and whatever else is important to you. What has been working in these areas and what hasn’t? Think about stressful situations that need to be changed or let go, and about the blessings in these areas that you hope to repeat or you want to expand upon.

Let go: Remind yourself that it’s okay to let go of what no longer serves you and your situation.

I’ve been particularly stressed these last few weeks because there are a couple of people in my life whom cause me a great deal of stress. I love them both dearly, but our relationships have been slowly getting weaker. I hate to let people go, but have had to do so in the past.

I don’t want to let these people go completely, and I’ve decided I wont. But I need to let go of who we used to be with each other, and put them somewhere else. It does me no good to keep them as top priorities in my life when I’m no longer a top priority in theirs, so I need to let go of the things that used to be and start them where they are now. Not priorities, but acquaintances I’ll be checking in with every so often. Like I’ve done with some other people.

I also need to finish getting rid of negative thought trails. I’ve come a long way with this already. My depression used to be so bad I needed medication, whereas now I think positively and am truly feeling happy about 90% of the time. I’m proud of myself for what I have accomplished here. I’m setting intentions for the coming year that will help with that other 10%, so now I’m writing down any bad memories and negative thoughts I want to let go of and move on from.

Another thing that bothers me is that I don’t get to see my daughters and grandson but a few times a year. I write to them sometimes, talk to them on the phone once in a while, and do video chats with Zowie and Little Man, but this year those things do not feel like enough. It is causing some loneliness this time of the year, and I’m so thankful Zowie and Devan will be here with Little Man for Thanksgiving, and that they and Skye and Dominick will all be visiting just before Christmas.

I’m letting go of these feelings this year, and I’m going to try to be more proactive next year. I’m making a list of more ways to have contact with them all. They live away, so we only really visit a few times a year.

What things are you letting go of? Bad habits? Negative self-talk? The feeling of never getting enough done? How about uncontrolled spending that has a negative impact on your family? Or procrastinating on client projects?

Start a page in your notebook for these things, and continue on the next page if needed. Once you know what you’re letting go of, work toward shifting your thought processes and putting people and situations where they need to be. This will not necessarily be easy, but it’s important to start anew for the coming year.

For instance, I’m reminding myself daily that the people I’m placing elsewhere in my life have already stopped making me a priority in theirs. They are no longer there for me when I need them, and don’t try very hard to make time for me. I’m telling myself that it is okay to place them on a lower rung of the ladder, because they have already done so to me. This is a difficult one, because it has to do with the heart and feelings, so I keep reminding myself I am not pushing them out of my life completely. Sometimes people grow apart. They change, as do relationships.

List goals: Now that you’ve let go, or at least have started the process, it is time to create your goals list.

For this, have at least a two-page spread in your notebook for each area of your life you want or need to make goals for. By doing this, you leave plenty of room for notes. You may need more or fewer pages, but this number usually works for me.

These will be my two-page spreads:

Spread 1: Family Goals

Examples: 1) Writing to daughters each month. 2) Date night once a week. 3) Working on strengthening sibling bonds.

Spread 2: Other Relationship Goals

Examples: 1) Letting go of people who obviously don’t want to put effort into the relationships. 2) Scheduling monthly visits with parents. 3) Throwing a beginning of spring and an end of autumn barbecue to invite friends and family to.

Spread 3: Work Goals (for my job at the inn)

Examples: 1) Being sure to always be helpful when coworkers need help with something they don’t understand. 2) Deliberately helping boss a little more, even when he doesn’t think he needs it. 3) Making sure the supervisor knows how appreciated she is because she’s trying hard to be fair with everyone.

Spread 4: Writing and Site Goals

Example: 1) Write a chapter in the book you’ve been putting off, each month. 2) Create a website. 3) Reach out to three potential clients each month.

Spread 5: Financial Goals

Examples: 1) Figure out how to begin investing in simple ways that wont break the bank. 2) Start saving for some travel time. 3) Put away 10% more toward retirement than last year.

Spread 6: Spiritual Goals

Examples: 1) Read books of my faith. 2) Join gatherings involving my faith. 3) Build relationships with people of my faith.

Spread 7: Personal Goals

Examples: 1) Work toward becoming a healthy weight for me. 2) Take a retreat weekend once every three or four months. 3) Spend an evening each month reflecting on what is working in my life and what is not.

Spread 8: Home Goals

Examples: 1) Shelves f0r sitting area. 2) Go through things, putting aside what is no longer needed, and donate those items to people in need. 3) A new refrigerator.

I don’t know what these will look like for me yet, because I’m still working through this, but I’ll post about it here when I’m finished. Either the end of this year or the beginning of next. I’d like to see all of you share here as well, so we can motivate, support, and help each other throughout the year.

Set up your pages, labeling them accordingly, and work on your goals list for next year as you can. Don’t stress, and try not to be like me – always making too many goals to really be successful at them all. Keep it simple.  And work on what is important to you, even if that means your page headings differ from mine. Personalize each to fit your needs and wants.

Set intentions: Because goal setting is not always enough.

Many people  after writing out their goals, set them aside and don’t think about them for months. Then they wonder why they don’t accomplish them – or more than just a few of them.

Now that you have your list of goals, it is time to set intentions for each. Do this on an evening when you’re alone. Light enough candles to provide soft lighting to read by, put on some soft music, get comfortable with tea or coffee, and possibly a snack, and look over all the notes you’ve taken. Add any notes that come to mind, such as a new idea for how to invest money or what you want to do on your vacation. Be sure your planner is handy.

Now meditate for a few minutes, breathing normally and trying to clear your mind. Then meditate on each goal, one at a time. Again clear your mind. When you’re done, take pen and notebook in hand, writing out any last details.

Once this is complete, look at each goal in turn. Remind yourself of why you set the goal, the steps you are going to take to reach them, and what the desired outcome of each is.

For each goal, decide on the month you want to finish, then work backward to schedule where you want to be each month on the goal.

Example: You want to video chat with your son and his family each month, because he lives too far away to visit regularly. You decide you’d like to have dinner with them on a monthly basis.

  1. Your main goal is to have dinner with your sons’ family each month through November, knowing they’ll be visiting in December. Write this in for the end of November, putting a box next to this item to check off when you have completed the 11 dinners.
  2. Write a note on the first of each month from January to November to contact your son and make a date to video chat for dinner that month.
  3. Record the date and time of the dinner chats as you wont forget about them.
  4. The nights of the dinner chats with your sons’ family, make dinner and then begin the video chat at the decided upon time.
  5. Enjoy your meal while they enjoy theirs, talking about all that is going on in your lives.
  6. Cross the dinner off your list for the month each time you’ve completes the date.

Don’t make things difficult. Keeping it simple is the way to go.

Setting an intention is simply telling yourself what you are going to do and putting it in your planner in such a way that you remember to work on it, letting yourself know that the intention is important and needs to be worked on.

Does this mean you’ll meet all your goals? Maybe and maybe not. It really depends on how important each goal is. If you find you don’t have time to put into a particular goal or two or three on a regular basis, then you wont complete it. All this means is that it/they turned out not to be a top priority in the coming year, and that is fine.

But you’ll have a monthly reminder, and you can try to get back on track if you wish to do so.

I, for one, never accomplish all my goals. I used to beat myself up over it, but I have since realized that I didn’t meet them when planned because they were not top priorities. No big deal. I just shelve those goals for later, or discard them all together, depending on how I feel about them during the reflection period.

Want more examples of creating goals and setting intentions?

Example: Yearly Christmas Party.

  1. Schedule October planning: Week 1) Create a guest list, and decide on the date, time, and theme for the event (day 1), buy invitations and postage (day 2), and make out invitations and fill out the envelopes, placing a stamps on each (days 3-5). Week 2) Plan the menu, deciding on new recipes to try, clipping coupons, and planning to have extras of necessary items on hand (day 1), find out who is willing to make what dishes and/or bring along cups or whatnot (day 2), create shopping lists for what you’ll need to get for each week until all ingredients and other food related needs are taken care of, and schedule these shopping days in your planner to coincide with weekly grocery shopping trips (day 3), and prepare a space to place everything you’ll be picking up from food items to gifts (day 4). Week 3) Decide on the gift giving process (Yankee swap, secret Santa, etc.). If it will be a secret Secret Santa situation, put names on slips of paper and fold them so you can’t see the names, list each gift giver on a sheet of paper, put the names in a basket and have a child or hubby choose a slip of paper for each name. Write the name of each recipient next to the givers name (day 1), decide on any further gifts you may be buying for the event, and make a list (day 2), pick up the gifts and wrapping needs you’ll need for the gift(s) you’re giving (day 3), and wrap the gift(s), placing them in the chosen space (day 4). Week 4: Decide on needed decorations and like items, making a list (day 1), shop for them and place them in the chosen space (day 2).
  2. Schedule November Planning: Week 1) Figure out what else you need, such as tables, chairs, etc. (day 1), call around to see who can provide these (days 2-4), and make sure you have a place to put the items when people start dropping them off (day 6). Week 2: Make a list of the names of people/families you’ve made out invitations for (day 1), mail out invitations (day 2), be prepared to start marking off invitation acceptances and declines (day 3). After Thanksgiving: Begin decorating, planning to do a little work each day over the coming week or two. Mark these tasks in your planner.
  3. Schedule for December: Call anyone you haven’t heard from to discuss whether or not they will attend or be dropping off their secret Santa or other gifts so no one is left out. Assure them they’ll get theirs as well – after the event. Also discuss any of the food or other items they’ve agreed to bring to be sure they will still be doing so. For anyone who will not, put this on your own list and buy the non-perishables (day 1-3), go through all the stuff you’ve picked up so far, making sure you haven’t missed anything. Add any items to the previous list. (day 4), set aside bake ahead time, for items that can be made ahead and frozen (days 7-14), take turkey or other meat out of freezer (three days before event), finish decorating and prepare for the party as much as possible – baking, setting up, taking things out of freezer, shopping for perishables, etc. (day before event), finish setting up seating and tables, doing the cooking and remaining baking tasks,  and setting the table settings, putting out gifts, etc. (the day of the event), put away food items and anything else that will go bad, leave the rest (after the event), and pick up everything else (the day after the event). Also, reflect on what went well and what should change for next yea making note of everything.

As you can see, the above is not something that is worked on throughout the entire year. Not all goals will last the whole year.

Example: Creating a website.

  1. Schedule a few hours once a month from January through May for brainstorming ideas for the website. Consider carefully the title, sub-title, topic, pages, and categories, and take notes for the first 10 posts. Keep everything together in a folder or notebook.
  2. In June, set time aside once a week to research hosting companies. Keep the notes in with those from step one, making sure all your questions are answered and you’re comfortable with your decision. Make up your mind during the last session.
  3. Schedule time during the first week of July to order your hosting and begin looking at themes.
  4. Schedule theme consideration three times over the month, deciding on the theme during the last session when you will install it.
  5. In August set aside times to customize the theme, decide and implement widgets and/or menus, add social media buttons, take photos, edit, and add photographs to the media library, and type the first 10 blog posts and save them as drafts.
  6. September should be used for editing of blog posts and scheduling them to post one per day Monday through Friday for the first two weeks in October, and for final touches on the site before going live. Schedule days for these activities, as well as for creating an about page, a contact page, and a static home page. Also schedule a day to write your bio, and another to brainstorm more post ideas.
  7. Go live October 1st!

And there you have it. The steps I’m using to reflect on this year and to plan for next, as well as some timing examples for implementing goals.

Care to share your rituals for these areas? Share in the comments below.

Shannon

About Shannon L. Buck

Hello. My name is Shannon, and I'm a single mother of two young adult daughters, and Memay to one precious Little Man. I work as a writer from my home in Orono, Maine, and as a Front Desk Agent at an inn. Writing is my life, second only to my daughters. I enjoy writing nonfiction, as well as fiction in a number of genres. At some point, I would like to travel. It would be a true writing adventure.