Here we are once more at the end of another year. This time of year can bring up so many emotions – anticipation, motivation, regret or simply the awe at how quickly time passes.
The start of a new year also represents a great opportunity to get organized and planful for the year ahead, which can eliminate stress and keep you feeling on top of your life.
Here’s a simple format that I follow this time of year to help me close out one year and ring in another:
It’s hard to remember all that you did and all you accomplished in the past year, but it’s also important to look back to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements and milestones. I like to go through my calendar and review everything so I can remember what happened. List out the trips you took, vacations you had, celebrations and major accomplishments. It’s amazing to see all you did in 12 months! If you come across any disappointments or things that didn’t go well, gather some lessons learned or think about how you might approach things differently next time.
Important questions to ask yourself might be: What will you keep with you as you move forward? What can you let go of?
I love the planning aspect of a new year and the excitement of a blank slate, however I’m not big on setting one giant resolution for the next year. The thought of just one thing to focus on is too big and comes with too much pressure. Even the word ‘resolution’ implies pressure to succeed. Many people will come up with a guiding word that they’ll base all of their decisions and actions on. To me, that’s a bit too vague.
Instead of focusing on things I’d like to achieve, I like to focus on several things that I can do everyday that will make a difference in the way I feel. What I’ve learned over the past many years is that how I feel sets the tone for everything I do. When I’m feeling good (in body & spirit), then I can operate from a much more peaceful and happy state. My parenting gets better, my relationships improve and even my productivity and level of contentment goes up. Doing things this way actually puts me in a better place to accomplish my goals than endlessly and single-mindedly striving to achieve them.
Most things I focus on from an 80/20 point of view. I don’t put pressure on myself to be perfect everyday, but I put an emphasis on doing a few things most of the time and I don’t worry when they don’t happen. I’ve personally found the list of things below work well for me. Your list might look different and I encourage you to explore what yours might include:
Overall things I do to feel good:
- Yoga or some type of exercise
- Quality sleep for as much time as I can get in. That usually means an early bedtime for me!
- Lots of dark leafy greens everyday
- Beginning my day with a glass of lemon water
- Eating a balance of high quality fats and proteins with an abundance of vegetables. Less focus on grains. Refined carbohydrates and treats are limited.
- Spending a little time each night before bed reading a good book (by far my favorite way to wind down)
- Keeping my house/responsibilities somewhat organized and neat
- Indulging but making it count (mindless Hersey Kisses won’t do….but a family trip to get ice cream after hitting the beach? Yup. A piece of an organic 85% dark chocolate bar after a good meal? Oh yes.)
- Spending quiet time at home with family and spending time out and about with good friends ( this goes along with learning to say no to things I’m not that excited about and saying a big YES to things I am)
- Checking in and following my gut
General Trip, Event and Project Planning
I found that it really helps to take out a blank calendar and blank paper and sit down to do a little planning for the year ahead. I begin by writing each month out on the paper and leaving space to fill in events and items for that month (in my world, that means dance recitals, birthdays, holidays, graduations, reunions, etc).
From there I like to fill in some fun trips or little get aways we might be able to take by month. I might not plan out the actual dates but I like to save space in each month for what we might want to do. I also fill in projects we’d like to accomplish – we have plenty of house projects to keep us busy so we try to slot one or two in during the months we feel like we can accomplish them.
This isn’t an exact plan – I’m pretty sure we’ve never checked every single thing off that we planned to do, but it acts as more of a guide and keeps you organized on your priorities during the year. It’s also a great tool to visualize if you’re being too ambitious!
Big Picture Personal Ideas and Plans
I like to think about some personal goals I have for the year ahead. I begin with big picture idea because it give me more room to maneuver without getting bogged down in details. So, I begin with general ideas and directions I’d like to move in (for example: I’d like to teach more yoga this year; I’d like to create a combined health and yoga program; I’d like to teach classes in the corporate environment, etc). I might even think about when I will start working on them, but again, my plan is pretty high level (Spring, Summer, Fall). When I get closer to these dates I get more specific.
Money is a huge stressor for most of us so why not tackle it when you’re not in the middle of a money crisis? If you have big purchases you know you’ll make in the next 12 months, plan for them! Set a plan to put money aside each month to save up. Create specific savings or checking accounts that represent your big purchase (ex: house, car). That way you can specifically see how much you have and how much you’ll need to save. If you’d like to pay off a credit card, make a plan for how you can do that. I also find that it works well to group bills together by due date and have 1-2 specific days each month that you pay the bills. It takes some of the stress and pressure off all year if you’re ahead of the game and have a plan for what you’re doing.
It all sounds like a lot of work but if you give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time, you can get through this, and it’s actually a lot of fun. I’d love to hear if you use this format or if you have a different process for planning for the new year!
Cheers to 2015! May your year be healthy and full of happiness.