annual planner

Annual Planner

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The Big Question:
Which parts of your overall vision will you tackle this year?

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What the answer reveals:
What the most important things over the next twelve months will be.

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Why is it important?
Because by setting your annual priorities, you will first deal with the most important issues and set yourself on the fast lane toward your goals.

Annual Planning – Your Big Short-Term Goals

I think that if you inquire among your friends whether they have an annual plan, most of them will answer yes. If you dig a little deeper, though, you’ll find that most people’s yearly plan is very vague, and it sounds a lot like the annual plan from last year, and the year before, and the year before that.

That’s the New Year’s resolution effect. Please understand that the annual plan proposed by this program is nowhere similar to a New Year’s resolution. Those New Year plans are made in haste from a place of shame and fear; they are not well thought out, even if they have good intentions behind them most of the time.

Most people at least swear to themselves they’ll get healthy or stop some bad habit they have. But that’s the problem with plans made without the proper analysis: they’re doomed to fail from the start.

You, however, are in a very different boat by now, aren’t you? You have gained superior knowledge about yourself and your capabilities. You’ve designed your vision exactly the way you wanted it to be and set goals that are clear, realizable, and measurable.

Now it’s time to crystallize your plan into an annual schedule. For this, you will learn how to plan your life along the course of the year by separating items into three distinct categories:

  1. Ongoing Projects
  2. Recurring Tasks
  3. Learning Plan
“You don’t need a new plan for next year. You need a commitment.”Seth Godin

Your Ongoing Projects List

When you defined your short-term goals, which, if you recall, conveniently span exactly one year, you have assigned several parts of your vision to that period. Now it’s time to dissect each of them into actual practical projects you will execute throughout the year.

In addition to those, other things perhaps didn’t make it into your list of goals because they are not directly related even though they represent a life necessity.

For example, let’s say that your big goal related to health is to train for a marathon, and your big mental goal is to get a new job where you can earn more money and have a better work-life balance. Those are your two big goals this year, which you will focus on and put most of your energy behind.

However, you also need to replace your roof because it leaks on rainy days and looks visibly decrepit. Although that is not one of your major personal goals, a part of your life plan is to live a healthy and happy life with your family, and having a safe home is an integral part of that. That means that the project of replacing the roof on your house must make its way into your annual ongoing projects list.

To create your list, you must brainstorm by yourself and then with your family, which could be just your spouse or your spouse and your kids. You need to create a comprehensive list of all the things that you must accomplish this year. Once you know the ‘what,’ you must decide the ‘when.’ Remember that all your tasks must have a deadline and a context. The context is the area of your life to which they are mostly related.

Lastly, don’t forget that your trusted circle, including, for example, your spouse, must be on board with your plans because they need a clear understanding of where you will channel your time and energy.

Your Recurring Tasks List

Although recurring items usually have a monthly or a weekly cycle, it’s a good idea to plan them at the year level. Meaning, as you think about your year as a whole, you must imagine what things you need to do for your life to go on as intended. Note that these will not be your daily habits but routine administrative activities that you must execute with a certain periodicity.

Here are some examples:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Laundry
  • Date night

You get the point; it’s the nitty-gritty of life that you can easily define into patterns. These differ from projects because projects have a start and an end date; they are finite. Recurring tasks are infinite, but not organizing them throughout the year would be a fallacy.

You need to have complete clarity about the things that you will have to do repeatedly. That will allow you to find places where you can introduce more efficiency eventually. For instance, if you realize that you spend two hours every week grocery shopping, perhaps you can decide that from now on, you will only shop every two weeks, thus freeing up two hours every other week to play with your children. That might involve getting a bigger freezer or enlarging your pantry.

These are just examples, but they are very critical to your future. A lot of the things that we do over and over again are left unchecked. We became used to them because we’ve always done them that way. We’ve done them so much that they have become a comfort area for us. Yeah, maybe you spend too much time doing your lawn every week, but at least you get to relax and forget about everything. You need to be aware of those moments when you use the busy time to justify not tending to your important tasks.

On the other hand, maybe you listen to audiobooks during grocery shopping and recharge your mental batteries. If that’s the case, make sure it’s a deliberate decision you’ve made to use that time in that manner, and not just something you do because you’ve gotten used to it.

To create your list of recurring tasks, you can use two methods: 1) Brainstorming and 2) Your AM/PM audit. Brainstorming allows you to think and come up with those recurring items, while the AM/PM audit reveals what you always do.

Note that you are now in planning mode, which means you are not simply documenting the status quo—you might add, remove, or change items because nothing is set in stone.

Your list of recurring items should be an ideal view of all the things that you do over and over again and that are essential to your life.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”Pablo Picasso

Your Learning Plan Organization

In the last step of the creation journey, you defined a learning plan for yourself. Now it’s time to put that plan on a schedule. It’s time to decide what you will learn and when. You will define the types of learning activities you’ll tackle over the next twelve months and set up several time frames.

You will start with the skill that has the biggest potential for a massive impact on your life. That is your mastery learning. Begin there at the highest priority, and walk your way backward toward interest and research. Make sure to sprinkle your education throughout the year to avoid burnout.

Don’t worry too much about learning faster or slower than you had planned. That’s why you’ll have a quarterly check-in to reevaluate the rest of the year. If things progressed more swiftly than you thought, you could adjust. If they progressed slower than you thought, you could adjust, too, but also reflect and analyze to understand why.

Annual Reset

Although you will build rest and recovery stops into all parts of your plan, including at the daily level, each one of your plan’s periods will include a reset session commensurable with the planning period length. So, in the case of the annual plan, your reset might be a one- or two-week family vacation.

Another option is to divide your annual reset into several chunks, such as small quarterly trips or long weekends spent in the company of your loved ones.

The reason for your annual reset is to allow your body, mind, and soul to rest and recover. If you are in a good place relative to your plan’s execution, you will benefit from the boost of serotonin that performing well against your long-term plans gives you. You will take advantage of your reset time with your whole heart and no guilt, knowing that you are on track.

Your Annual Planner

You and I both know that the concept of a year is a human creation. Time is continuous, and it never stops. There’s no beginning and ending; there’s just the eternal now. But we, as humans, often need boundaries. We need beginnings, and we need endings because things make more sense that way.

That’s why races have a starting and an ending point. It’s easy for our brains to comprehend when something starts and when it ends. That’s why the annual cycle seems so natural to all of us.

We manufactured a beginning and an ending, and within the period between those two, we created a sense of urgency that motivates us to take action. The closer we get to the end, the more empowered we feel to get there.

The ending of a year is very different than death, which is final. The end of the year marks the beginning of a new one. And the new one will start on the high of the old one. As you move through the year, putting stone after stone toward your life goals and vision, you are preparing yourself for a new beginning. And then another one. And another one. And another one.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”Benjamin Franklin

Plan Your Year

At this point, download the Annual Worksheets and the Goal Planners for the year. They are all in one package for your convenience. If this is your first time doing this, it might take you a while, but don’t despair; it will get easier. Once you’re done, continue to read about your Annual Review.

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