All The Pretty PlannersSep 26, 2022
This past weekend I flipped forward a couple of pages in my planner and found something shocking - the full month spread of OCTOBER!
I know, you’re thinking “how did THAT happen?”
I mean, I haven’t lost those 10 pounds, made that extra “$50 grand,” landed that new job or gone to Tahiti yet… so how can we already be heading into Fall of 2022?
Well, let me be the first to welcome you into the Planning Season for 2023.
I used to think that planning for the next year any earlier than December 26th was crazy… but hear me out.
- How many big plans (or even not so big ones) can be executed in 30 days or fewer?
- How much change can you incorporate into 30 days? You can’t even (technically) build a habit (that takes 60-70).
- How much weight can you lose, miles can you run, jobs can you apply for…
Most of these goals take 30-60 days just to get moving, and when you start in January, you’re using up the first two months of your year as an “on-ramp.”
Now do you see why October is a good time to look at planning for 2023?
Last week, on the podcast, my guest Tabatha Perry shared her story and solutions for how to declutter your life in order to live more fully - and one of her top tips was PLANNING. Yep, small, simple steps can make big changes. It was almost humorous how many of these strategies and practices she and I have in common.
So here’s what I want to share with you today.
- Why Make A Plan
- What Makes a Good Plan
- Tools to Help You Execute Your Plan
Yep I’m throwing in my own favorite things like planners (paper & digital), journals, and some of my own habits for keeping things simple.
And as a bonus, I’ve updated my “Andrea’s Favorite Things” productivity resource that you can download free, today.
WHY MAKE A PLAN?
Because PROACTIVITY is fundamental to understanding how to be Optimistic - and whether you think of yourself as an optimist or not, setting goals is an inherently optimistic practice.
Getting out in front of things makes a difference in both the outcome of your endeavors AND how you feel about them.
Every athlete is thinking one, two or 5 steps ahead of her opponent or the course. Think about Lindsay Vonn at the top of the Alpine course - she closes her eyes and methodically runs through each turn, each mogul, each patch of ice, all so that when she is out on the course, nothing is a surprise and she’s prepared. How many hours of gametime film will a coach show their team in preparation for this weekend’s matchup? All in preparation for the plays they’ll see, and the tactics the other team will use.
Proactivity is preparation.
When you’re prepared, you can more easily look ahead at what you, your team or your community might need, or want to do. This includes looking for roadblocks, reviewing your position and processing feedback data to know what is needed to achieve the goal.
Asking some good questions will help you compile this information, like:
- What are the possible obstacles to achieving this goal in the time and way I’d like to?
- How often should I check my progress to ensure I’m still on track?
- What happens if I’m off track in the first couple of months?
This kind of focus will allow you to then prepare for possible solutions or work-arounds. “Plan B,” if you will. Having that backup plan will give you confidence to pursue your objective with single-mindedness.
Proactivity is also unity.
When you have a unity of focus, a consistency in your thoughts, words and actions, it’s easier to be a clear leader in your team. If these goals are just you, then you have a greater chance of leading yourself through to the end goal without darting off onto one rabbit trail after another.
When you start on the inside, you can then be proactive about promoting unity in your team or community. And by unity, I mean unified purpose, unified goal, unified desired destination. This is what we mean when we talk about a team being on board and co-owners of an organization’s mission and vision. Of course, if it’s just you, the work is usually all in your head… which (if I’m honest) might be more difficult.
So to do this part well, you have to be willing to be honest with yourself, and see it all. Have your eyes wide open - because if you’re anything like me, I’m the most likely suspect to drop an obstacle right in the middle of the road. So I'm willing to see what has been, what is, and what might be coming. This way I can make wise choices and get myself to the goals I desire.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD PLAN?
There are a few things that make up a good plan… if you have these basics, you're on track.
Provisions - what's within your power to provide beforehand?
Obviously these will vary between goals, but nearly always include the tools, “fuel”, and space to accomplish the goal.
For a goal like learning a new skill, it might include an online course, some books, podcasts and conferences. For losing weight, it might include a trip to your doctor to make sure there aren’t any medical needs you should consider, then include a plan for your nutrition, exercise, supplements and even mental health.
Options - since some things are NOT within your power, you need alternatives.
This is where you put the answers to those questions I mentioned earlier. Capture all the “plan b” items, but just know that as you move toward your goal, other “alternate solutions” are likely to pop up. So having that focused, unified and clarified goal will help you determine whether or not to take advantage of these new options. While at the same time, if something goes awry (like that “what if I’m off course after the first month” question) you can have confidence that another solution is just around the corner.
Future Facing - no matter what happens, always face the future.
This is the ONLY way you will achieve your goals. If you’re looking back, you’re already off course. That doesn’t mean turning your back on the lessons, wisdom or even hurt that is behind you. There are plenty of people to help you deal with those things and move forward, or away from them. It does, however, mean that you use all those lessons to hone your focus on that goal you have set. Your future is up to you. It’s a destination you set… and it’s most certainly not in the past.
Planning is more about a mindset than a written, step by step outline of what's coming up. This gives you flexibility as you live and grow.
But - where do you start?
Of course, you start with you, even if it’s with a dream of where you want to be. Even if it feels unrealistic and completely unachievable - side note, one of my clients put on her vision board in February that she wanted to be engaged by the end of the year. Nope she did not have even a hint of a boyfriend at the time. I am recording this episode on her wedding day. A mere 8 months later. Yes, that’s an outlandish example, but still a real one.
So muster the courage, say what you want (even if it’s just a whisper), and let’s get started.
TOOLS TO HELP YOU EXECUTE YOUR PLAN
Ah, now we get to the fun part!
In case you didn’t know, I have some favorites… I’ve been using both digital and paper planners and journals for several years, along with other tools like books and podcasts, and I’ve compiled them into a quick downloadable list for you. The link is in the show notes, but you can go to theintentionaloptimist.com/links and the button is right at the top of the page. It includes books, planners, apps, journals, podcasts and even the pens I love to use… so even if you don’t know exactly what you want, you can still check them out and see if anything works for you.
I’ve found that using a combination of digital and paper products helps keep me
This year, I included Simplify Magazine - it's a quarterly, digital publication that pulls together experts in various fields to address some of the most pressing needs of the modern family. It’s put out by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. You can purchase one at a time ($6) or lifetime access for $20. You know what I did. We’re currently at issue #22. Here’s what I like: each issue has a specific topic, so if I don’t want to look at it, I don’t. It’s digital. It only comes out quarterly - and you can get issue #1 for free.
The rest of the book list include ones I ALWAYS recommend:
- Atomic Habits, James Clear
- High Performance Habits, Brendon Burchard
- The ONE Thing, Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
- The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, John C. Maxwell,
I even included the one Tabatha mentioned in the last episode,
- Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want, Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
I recommend reading materials because sometimes you need more than just a system. You might need new habits, or a philosophy of how and why to change your systems, or some basic personal growth principles that will set you up to make goals strategic, realistic and timely. It can be helpful to have words or graphics on paper, in front of you. If you’re not a reader, you can get the audiobook version - as a matter of fact the High Performance Habits audiobook is offered as Season 4 on Brendon Burchard’s show, and that’s listed at the bottom of the page on the free resource.
I have shared before how I began the time management leg of my personal growth journey with the Franklin Covey system. It had everything I needed. Monthly, weekly and daily planner, task trackers, stickers… but it was pretty bulky, even with the smaller size. This was back before Google Calendars, mind you. I’ve also swung to the opposite side, where I tried to do EVERYTHING in my digital calendar, including task and project management. That didn’t work so well either.
Then I discovered The High Performance Planner, which includes goal setting, self assessments and journaling. This planner was instrumental to me building those habits. But the last two years, I’ve used a hybrid system of digital calendar, task list app and paper planner and journal. Yes, it’s more actual pieces, but there’s a method to my madness.
When I HAND WRITE things, I remember them better. When I DUPLICATE information, it sticks in my brain more effectively. When I SHARE task lists with others, I have more accountability. So this system is where I’ve landed for me.
When you download this resource, you’ll see a link for the High Performance Planner because of how valuable it can be in that habit building area. You’ll also see the planner I’ve now used for 2 years, and will continue, because it works for me. Yes, you can get these exact resources, but you should find what works for you.
There are book bound, spiral bound, dated, undated, monthly, weekly, hourly - find what works for you. If you need a planner that is beautiful to look at in order to get you to use it, then find one that makes you smile. The goal is to be able to use it regularly.
This year, I’ve added a section on Apps in my favorite list, because I use several. As a Mac user, I can use them on my phone or my Macbook Air, but several are available through Google Play for non iOS systems.
The two I have shared are both available on either system, and I use them multiple times a day.
- Microsoft To Do App: If you are a checklist person, this app (or something like it) is for you. It debuted in my house as a grocery list. You see, with two of us out running errands, trying to keep track of what was on THE list was a real challenge. So, we started using the To Do app, where we can share the list between us, and whoever can stop at the store (presumably) has the list.
It worked so well that I decided to stop keeping paper checklists and started creating task lists for my business. I have lists for everything from social media posting schedules to when and how to do my personal finances. I create due dates, and each morning I go through what’s due today (or overdue, if I’m honest), and add them to a special “My Day” list that puts everything in one place.
This is teaching me more about how realistic I am about what I can get done in a specific amount of time, and what I say “yes” to, and what I truly care about.
I use it on my iPhone and my Macbook air, but I’ve included the iOS and Google Play links for this app.
- The Growth Day App: This is Brendon Burchard’s personal growth app based on his High Performance Habits. The basic plan is $37 for an entire year, and it has put me back in the habit of specific journal prompts for an intentional day. It includes nearly daily audio messages from him, and access to challenges and an entire section dedicated to planning. Weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly. So - if you’re someone who needs it all in one place, pretty much everything but the calendar, this might be a good option for you. The Pro plan includes a whole lot more for just a bit more per year. (Full disclosure - the link included in my Favorites list is a personal referral link.)
Speaking of journals - I’ve included my favorite one, simple, sturdy and gets me through about 6 months of daily journaling at least a full page per day, then two gratitude lists per week and some brainstorming and reflecting pages on my word for the year.
If you think you’re “not a journaler,” I would say you’re not one yet. I think you just haven’t found what you want to journal about. I have a client who didn’t want a “journal” but picked up a spiral notebook and went to work on her core values exercise and now has pages filled… and it’s not all about her core values. As soon as we discover another thing for her to contemplate or work on, she starts a new page.
Journaling can look different for every person - trust me, I have quite a few “dear diary” books started, but once I started having a conversation between my morning quiet time, gratitude, and reflections on my day, I’m filling them.
And yes, I LOVE special pens. So I’ve included my favorites, which are FriXion erasable pens by Pilot. They come in a huge variety of colors and styles, and I personally like the refillable click pens. The only downside is that the ink will run and disappear if it gets wet. But I’ve not had it fade over the last two years, and boy do I love erasing things out of my planner, off my calendars, or in my journal when plans change or I spell something incorrectly. Which happens often.
The last category of favorites I included is podcasts. Of course, MY podcast is on there (maybe you may already listen), but I’ve included the Brendan Show (where the audio book is in Season four), and the Biz Chix podcast from Natalie Eckdahl. While Biz Chix a show specifically for female entrepreneurs, you can scroll through her 540+ episodes (yep, she’s been at this since 2016), and find all manner of fabulous planning and productivity episodes that will give you the inspiration you’re looking for.
The main thing I want you to take away from me today is this - all the pretty planners in the world are just paper.
The REAL pretty planners are you and me.
WE are the pretty planners, WE set our sights on the next horizon and WE make a plan to get there.
You CAN make a plan that works for you, and with your current season of life.
You HAVE the information you need to make a good plan that will get you to where you want to be by the end of 2023.
You have access to all the TOOLS you need to help you execute that plan, whether they are the ones that I call my favorites or not.
My passion is to equip and empower YOU, the next generation of female leaders. To help you learn to think critically, create imaginatively and lead effectively - in any situation, team or organization. My hope is that the information we bring on this podcast will give you the inspiration to move forward with confidence and strength, to lead in your own unique and beautiful way. In your personal AND your professional life.
As you look toward planning for 2023, if it feels overwhelming or you realize you CAN make a plan, but what about some accountability to help you STICK to that plan? Well, that’s what I do! It’s what we do in my group coaching program, The Beach. Set up a 30 min consultation where we can figure out exactly what you need.
Comment below with your biggest takeaway, and make sure you grab the free list of my favorite productivity tools, and get started on your own plan for success in 2023.
Until next time.
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