Picture yourself achieving your biggest goals this year, conquering life with fearlessness, overcoming your biggest obstacles and feeling like you finally have your life together.
What if I told you that this dream can be your reality?
You’re probably shaking your head because this sounds too good to be true, but just hear me out for a sec.
All of the world’s most successful people started off somewhere, and at one point they probably felt the same way you do, until they made life work for them. Now they’re living their best life, improving year after year.
You can have this, too.
You don’t have to spend another year stuck in the same spot, yearning for more. You no longer have to be disappointed in yourself for not going after your goals. Life doesn’t have to be so hard.
This can be the best, most memorable year of your life if you’re willing to show up and do the work.
Now I’m not saying that you can control the outcome of the year. Or that it’s all smooth-sailing. Things happen all the time in life that’re out of your control.
But what you can control is what you make your circumstances mean, and what direction you take towards your future.
This is true power. This is how you take control of your life and make it work for you.
Remember – you don’t have to wait until January 1 to make a change. You can make the decision to live your best life at any moment.
So with all of that being said, let’s dive into how to plan your best, most successful year yet!
1| Reflect + evaluate
The first step before you can even plan your best year is to reflect on the past year and compare it to your goals and aspirations for this year.
The best way to do this is to go through your calendar from last year and take note of how you spent your time.
Look at the months, weeks and days and see if you can find a pattern. Look at your successes and areas that can be improved.
Then, write what you didn’t achieve last year and turn them into goals for this year with an action plan to achieve them. Make sure to plot them in your calendar as strict deadlines so you’ll be motivated to actually get them done.
2| Find a focus for the year
Start by writing down a few big visions for your life. This is the part where you get to relax and dream a bit.
You need a vision of where you want to go or else you’ll end up wandering aimlessly through life and may even end up somewhere you never intended to be.
You can break it up into categories if you’d like – finances, health, relationships, career, business, personal development, spiritual development, etc.
Finance – Become financially independent
Health – Be healthy in every area of my life: mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually
Relationships – Build strong relationships that stand the test of time
Career – Be the most productive and efficient worker possible
Business – Provide the best content that helps people design their future and live their best life
Notice how these are broad? That’s not by accident. The vision acts as your general guide, while goals (see below) are the road map that gives you the specifics and course of action to take.
Once you’ve come up with a few visions for your life, the next step is to choose one and turn it into your main focus for the entire year.
So, if my vision is to become financially independent, my focus would be to make more income. If my vision is to be healthier, my focus for the year would be to lose a certain number of pounds or to develop a healthy relationship with food.
On a daily basis I use (and am obsessed with) the Productivity Planner for creating my list of priorities, which I press up against my life visions to make sure they’re aligned with the results I want for my life. You can get started with a free PDF: Productivity Planner Quick Start PDF.
3| Set SMART goals
Next you want to break down your focus into SMART goals for the year.
SMART goals are ones that are…
S — Specific (as in narrow, not vague)
M — Measurable (you can measure your achievements)
A — Achievable (it’s realistic givn your capabilities)
R — Relevant (it’s related to your values)
T — Time bound (it has a set deadline)
You have a much higher chance of actually achieving your goals by making them SMART. The biggest mistakes I see when people are goal-setting is that they don’t make their goals specific and time-bound. They set these vague, generic goals that pull them in multiple directions and don’t pave a clear path to get the results they’re looking for.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some examples of good versus poor goal setting.
Examples of poor goal setting:
- Lose weight
- Be better with money
Why aren’t these good goals? Because they aren’t specific, measurable or timely. They are just vague, which isn’t helpful.
Examples of good goal setting:
- Lose 15lbs by June 1st
- Pay off $10k of credit card debt in 1 year
Notice the difference? These goals are much more attainable because they are very specific, have a set deadline, and produce measurable results.
It’s also important to note that while you’re goals should be attainable, they should still stretch you and pull you out of your comfort zone.
Oftentimes when we set a goal, if we work at it, somehow we usually get really close to achieving it. That’s why you want to set the bar a little higher than you’re comfortable with so when you get close to achieving that goal, even if you don’t reach it, you still exceeded your expectations.
4| Create supportive habits + routines
A lot of our energy is expended when we have to think about every little task that must get done throughout the day. This makes us overwhelmed and burnt out by the end of the day.
That’s where habits come in handy. With habits and routines you don’t even have to think about what to do next. It’s like putting your brain on autopilot so you can put your energy into the most important tasks.
So, after you’ve set SMART goals and put them on your calendar, the next step is to create habits and routines that support your goals.
Good habits help us reach our goal. They are the little processes in the background that run our lives.
Some examples of great habits and routines to start – morning + night routines, meal prepping, skincare, self-care, budgeting, etc. What habits you form depends entirely on your goals.
I suggest using your visions and SMART goals as guides when choosing what habits to create. Come up with a list of habits that’ll propel you closer to the results you want in your life and choose one from the list to start working on now.
Once you implement habits that support your goals, it makes actually achieving them so much easier.
RELATED: 101 Habits For A Better Life
5| Get clear on what you want
The fifth step is to articulate why you want what you want.
Think about all of the visions you’ve listed above and the goals that you want to accomplish and ask yourself why you’re chasing after them.
It seems much easier than it really is because in order to get past the surface level answers, you have to keep asking yourself that question over and over again until you get to the deeper answers.
The reason we do things often isn’t simple. It’s buried under layers and layers of experiences, thoughts, emotions and memories. That’s why you have to dig deep and peel back each layer at a time until you get to the true answers.
Once you get crystal clear on what you want, you’ll be motivated to keep chasing after your goals even when times get tough.
6| Align yourself with your future self
There are a lot of beliefs we have that we don’t even realize are holding us back.
Maybe you want to become the type of person who gets up at 5 am and exercises every day, but your belief that you aren’t that person already is what’s holding you back from becoming them.
I want to become a six figure business owner, but unless I start acting like one, thinking like one and believing that I am one already, I’ll never get there.
The type of person who eats healthy and gets up at 5 am to exercise thinks and acts completely different than the type of person who believes that they can’t stick to healthy habits or that they wouldn’t be able to get up that early everyday
In order to get to where you want to be you have to ditch those limiting beliefs and plan, act and think like your future self.
7| Set up systems to implement your plans
The very last step is to set up systems to implement your goals and habits so you can actually have your best year ever.
Here are some of the systems I use and recommend:
- Use a digital calendar for daily/weekly planning so you can change your plans when needed (I use Google Calendar for this). Use a paper planner (I use the Bloom daily planner) in month view for big picture planning + goal setting.
- Break each goal into action steps and plot them on your calendar as strict deadlines.
- Create a powerful morning + night routine. Don’t underestimate the power of implementing routines that fuels and motivates you to do your best work.
It’s never too late to change your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re taking huge strides or tiny baby steps – the important thing is that you’re moving forward.
Maybe you’re at a full on sprint, maybe you’re slowing down your pace to take in the fresh air or you’re side stepping a bit to change tracks.
However you’re moving, you’re growing through it, even when you can’t feel it!
So I challenge you to show up for yourself, take whatever life throws at you head on, and chase after your biggest goals this year because life’s too short to sit on the sidelines and watch your best years pass by.
Let’s crush this year and make it our best yet! We got this.
Scrolled straight to the bottom? To summarize, the above steps are:
- Reflect on last year and think of areas you can improve on for the upcoming year.
- Write down a focus for this year
- Set SMART goals for things you want to accomplish by the end of the year
- Create habits + routines that support your goals
- Get clear on what you want
- Align yourself with your future self
- Set up supportive systems using your calendar and task managers to implement your plans.