Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Plan For The Best Year Yet-2011

How To Plan For The Best Year Yet-2011

Every year since I was a child, I’ve set aside time in December to look back on the previous year and set goals for the next year.  This was my Dad’s way and we kids all did what he said to do.

This year I’m taking only one day, but I’m also editing a contest submission and outlining another project at the same time.

Why Make a Plan?

A basic principle of planning is stating what you want to achieve. You may have to give up something to get something else – so it’s better to know what’s most important to you.

Donald Miller says in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, meaningful lives don’t just happen by accident. You have to make deliberate decisions at some point. If you know what you value and what you are working towards, it will be much easier to make the decisions.


  •  Evaluate the Previous Year
  •  State Goals and Focus for Next Year
  • Identify Obstacles and make decisions in Support of the Goals and Focus
Here’s what each one looks like in brief:

Look Back

Look back at the year that’s quickly coming to an end. What went well? What did not go well? Write down at least three items for each category. If you set goals from last year, go back and review all of the goals you set last December. How did things work out?

Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver) excerpted from

Ask Yourself Questions

5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010 (Patti Digh)

If you didn’t set goals ask yourself these questions.

What disappointed you?

What surprised you?

Where did you excel?

Where did you fail?

List Your Goals:
  • The goal must be written down and must be meaningful and specific.
  • The goal must have an ending time.
  • Obstacles to obtaining the goal must be identified.
  • A plan must be executed to overcome obstacles.
  • Write down the list of people, organizations, and tools that can help you obtain the goal.
  • Write down a plan of action to obtain results.
  • Write down the things that will benefit you if you obtain the goal.

Categorize Your Goals .

I’ll share an example here from my Writing category:

2011 Writing Goals:

Write 150,000 words and track progress through spreadsheet.


 Write 52+ blog posts, oriented towards writing craft and motivation (50,000)

  Write one book (100,000 words)

After you have your goals set in all the categories, then define the outcomes.

One year from now, what do I want to have accomplished? Write this statement as a short paragraph. Outcomes: At the end of 2011, I will have finished the manuscript for my book and written for the group blog. I will have a list of agents to contact, a query letter and synopsis written.

The list of outcomes highlights the big priorities.

Choose a theme and purpose for the next year. The theme and purpose usually come as a result of the goals. My theme will be Contribution . I want to contribute more through my writing and to my writers groups.

Identify Obstacles to the Goals and Focus

There are always obstacles that come up to keep you from obtaining your goal. For instance if your goal is writing a specific number of words or pages, unexpected company arriving when you haven’t met your page or word goal for the day, can quickly make you adjust your goal.  Losing your manuscript because you didn’t save it, or children misbehaving are all obstacles. List ways you can find the time to write, and the necessary tools to prevent the loss of your work.   Do the same procedure in other categories of your life, financial- spiritual, family etc.

Once you know where you’re going, it’s much easier to plan the route. After setting the goals, you can then figure out how to make them happen. As Seth Godin says “You have to show up to make them happen.”

If You’re Not A Goal Setter

If you don’t believe in setting goals for active life planning, then you will be setting yourself up for failure by the second week of January if you're not committed. Taking life as it comes is not a goal setter's motto. You have to believe that establishing goals and working toward something is worthwhile. But there are other ways to approach goal setting.

A friend of mine mentioned that for her New Year’s Resolution, she sets a goal using a single powerful word to focus on a specific goal. She wants to be more efficient in her work and life. So she chose the word organize. She says she wants to be organized in all areas of her home and life. She says it will make her feel more comfortable and happy . The single word is a reminder about the goal/resolution . If she wants to do something different, she could – but as long as she keeps challenging herself, she’s fairly happy with how things are going with her one word.

Maybe, how we spend our days is how we live our lives. Those moments that unconsciously slip away add up and are gone forever. Will you plan your next year?  Share your thoughts. How did your 2010 go and what do you want for 2011?

We'll be taking a digital break until January, so that we can spend time with our families. See you back here, ready to go January 2nd, 2011.


Anonymous said...

I use the one word goal for keeping my spiritual life in line. It's a wonderful way to get rid of the long list of things you never get around to doing. Just focusing on one word is a constant reminder of your goal.
Great blog!

Ruby said...

Thanks for your comment, Carma. You hit on a key word. Focusing is really important in obtaining a goal, sort of a way to keep your eye on the prize.

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