How To Plan A New Year

How To Plan A New Year
This post was previously published. It has been updated.

It’s the New Year. Have you done any planning? I sometimes feel like I have done more drifting than planning. But planning will give a sense of direction. Think of it as a road trip with some destinations in mind.

I’m not talking about the high-flung promises you might make to lose weight or get more organized. I’m talking about deciding what direction you want to go in, and setting up some plans to move in that direction.

No? You haven’t done that? You should. It’s not too late.

I find that even if I don’t know my life’s purpose (see ‘Why I Hate Life Purpose’), I still have to have some idea of what I want to accomplish, or I will accomplish nothing. So for the past few years I sit down in late December or early January and formulate my plans. I use a series of questions to help me figure it out.

Note: it works best to write out the answers and review them periodically to make sure you are fine with your present track.

The Questions To Ask Yourself When Planning The New Year

  • What have I started that isn’t complete? Do I want to complete it? This is good to assess the things you have committed to do. The second question gives you an out if you decide it no longer serves your purpose.
  • Do I owe anyone anything (borrowed or promised items)? This is for things you might have committed to other people. Yes, borrowing implies a commitment to return the borrowed item.
  • What went well in the past year? Looking back on what we have done well allows us to use that as a springboard for new plans.
  • What could have gone better? Could I have done anything to make it better? By reviewing the things that were not so stellar successes, we can learn lessons for the future. But if what happened was completely beyond your control, cut yourself some slack. Things happen sometimes that have nothing to do with us, despite our best efforts.
  • What was beyond my control last year? Let it go. You couldn’t do anything about it.
  • How is my activity level? Do I need to stop or start things? Assess how much you have going on. Do you have too much? Consider cutting back. Too little? Find something you would like to do.
  • Am I taking care of myself in a healthy way? We only get one body in this lifetime, and many diseases can be lessened or avoided by proper care of that body. If you are not taking care of yourself, make plans to do so. Make the doctor’s appointments. Eat sensibly. Aim for health rather than weight.
  • What do I most want to experience next year? Nobody sets out to have negative experiences. But recognizing that we want to have a certain type of experience can help us gravitate toward them. For example, if you decide you want to experience less stress at work, this might lead to changes in dealing with the people at your current job.
  • What do I most want to feel next year? Again, no one sets out to have negative feelings. But if you decide you want to feel peace in the next year, you might add meditation or tai chi to your activities.
  • What do I want to let go of next year? There are always things we can let go of. Deciding to let go of a past experience or a physical item that brings back bad memories can set you free.
  • What places do I want to visit? Deciding that you want to visit certain places means that you put them in your mental radar.
  • What books do I want to read? Even if you don’t know the specific titles, thinking about what you might want to read heightens your awareness for when you do find it.
  • What movies/plays do I want to see? If there is something that you really would like to see, write it down.
  • Where do I want to go financially next year? If you have certain financial goals, write them down, and make a plan to get there. This does not include things beyond your control like “win the lottery”.
  • Where do I want to be physically next year? This question can be taken on two levels. It can mean your body, but also where you reside.
  • Where do I want to be with my career next year? Too many people coast in their careers. Answering this question can be as simple as listing things you want to learn, or as complex as switching fields.
  • What do I want to create next year? All of us create things, even if you consider yourself a non-creative type. Figure out what you want to create? Do you want to paint? Write? Sing? Try a new food?
  • Where do I want to be spiritually next year? Along with the physical and mental planes, we must also examine the spiritual one.
  • Are there any big dreams I want to start making reality? Sometimes we have big dreams. You know, the “I would love it if I … but that will never happen” kind of dreams. These are big and scary, but not usually unattainable (unless they involve the lottery). Write down ones that you can take a few steps toward making a reality.

These are the basic questions you can ask yourself to start planning a great new year.