What Are Your Plans for the New Year?


This is my last post for this year. I am taking off 10 days between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s partly to take a break from weekly blogging and partly to really think about and set in motion my plans for next year.

I must confess I am an inveterate planner and calendar girl. For most of my adult life, I have set goals annually, reviewed and revised my plans quarterly and worked from a monthly and daily to-do list to guide both my personal and professional progress.

You can make plans any time of year, but a fresh start at the start of a new year has special appeal. I never say I am making “resolutions” because I think that word almost invites failure.

Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.
~Margaret Thatcher

I set goals as a teenager but got into a structured planning habit during my first corporate job with the Bell System which used the Management By Objectives system. MBO fell out of favor over time because it could be rigid and in my experience, led to some silly “goal” measurements, but I also saw real results.

Do I always achieve everything I write down each year? If only! I get most of the items crossed off my list, though sometimes not in the time frame I thought I would. Still, the act of making the plan gives me a clearer direction and helps structure my time.

It may seem odd, but for me, following a routine allows more creative freedom. Ideas don’t arrive on a set schedule and I like having everything else mapped out and nailed down. Working from a list frees my mind and I can carve out pockets of time to brainstorm, read and explore ideas that interest me but may not fit into the main focus of my work which is digital media content creation and brand journalism.

As the year winds down, I will be busy dreaming and figuring out my new year strategy and tactics. Here’s a process that works for me:

  •  BEGIN with the end in mind.  Brainstorm a list of all the things you would like to do, large or small, in the year ahead. For example, some of my big picture items include write another book, launch a podcast, revamp my eating and fitness efforts and create an online course, all while continuing to consult with existing clients and growing my business.
  • PRIORITIZE the list by gauging your motivation and each item’s importance to you. How badly do you want it? What are you willing to invest or give up to achieve it? Be honest with yourself about how much you care and whether you have or can get what it takes (education, funding, tools, etc.) to realistically accomplish the goal. If not, cross it off! Keep the list “do-able,” not full of impossible dreams.
  • DEVISE meaningful and achievable goals with the items that remain. I aim to be very practical and specific using the S.M.A.R.T. goals approach. Don’t be concerned if some of the things you wrote down seem minor. If it’s important to you, find a way to do it. Why measure your success by someone else’s yardstick? Sometimes getting all the little tasks done can add up to a BIG achievement.
  • CREATE detailed action plans for achieving your top 2-4 goals next year. Break down each goal into smaller and smaller elements and use a a calendar, paper planner or mobile app to schedule the steps you’ll take toward the first one, in the weeks and months ahead.
  • ABOUT TIME. Don’t attempt to reach multiple big goals all at once. You’ll set yourself up for disappointment with a mindset of “by the end of January, I will accomplish this, this and this… or bust!” Overnight success is a myth. Focus on one goal and give it your full attention for at least one month. Embrace the fact you will get many goals realized in 365 days, if you’re methodical and stick with your steps.
  • TAKE ACTION!  When you finish creating the action plan, take one tiny step toward the first goal immediately. Do something fast and easy such as send an email, register a domain name, buy a book or make a phone call. Do it right away to get some momentum going. Big goals start with baby steps and any kind of step will put you closer to the goal than no step!

Reality check: Are all your plans going to unfold smoothly step-by-step just the way you envision them? I doubt it. You will likely get stuck at some point during the year because of life issues, illness, a lack of time, waning motivation, limited skills or resources, whatever. Build in some flexibility and be willing to make modifications when setbacks inevitably appear.  

I make lists but you may prefer doing a mindmap,  making an outline, creating a vision board or using some other planning and inspiration tool. The method does not matter. What matters is the process of deciding your specific goals, chunking them down into workable elements and then setting your plan into motion to make things happen. 

Creating a blueprint for taking action will minimize haphazard or spur-of-the-moment decisions that could make you lose your way. Not to mention, working the plan and seeing things get done is a great feeling.

Keep your eye on the prize and I am confident by the end of next year,  you’ll discover you’ve accomplished great things. See you next year!






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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Trainer/Coach at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Virtual Communication Specialist Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who teaches business professionals to communicate with impact on-camera, in media interviews, and as public speakers. Contact at http://bit.ly/Talk2Janet

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