I don’t know about you, but this is one of my favourite times of year. For most, the festive season feels like it’s coming to an end now, and with January around the corner it’s easy to feel a little down in the dumps. But while I don’t particularly enjoy New Year’s Eve (the most overpriced night out of the year…), this time of year is all about celebrating what we have achieved over the last 12 months, and looking ahead to what we might want to take on next. Not to mention it’s when I get to start using the diaries and planners and other stationery bits and bobs that people usually get me for Christmas, and that’s always fun.
Whether you feel like 2018 was your best year yet, or that you didn’t quite get to finish what you hoped you would this time last year, take a moment to be grateful for everything that this year brought to you (yes, even the not-so-great things) and think about how next year could be even better than the last. As a self-confessed plan-aholic, here are my tips for planning an incredible 2019.
Start with gratitude
OK, so this part isn’t about planning ahead, but like I said before, you can’t think about what you want next if you and 2018 still have unfinished business to address. The important thing to remember here though is that it truly doesn’t matter whether you are happy, sad, angry, frustrated, confused or elated about some or all of what happened to you this year, because at the end of the day, we all made it to the end, and another year spent on this great planet is worth celebrating, no? You may think it’s a little kooky, or that you’re not ready to forgive and move on, or that you can’t yet let go of that goal you didn’t get a chance to finish, but take at least a moment to think about the good things that have come from the last year, and be grateful that you get to plan to make this one even better.
Check in with last year’s goals
It’s easy to sit down with a blank sheet of paper ready to write down new goals, but if you’re anything like me you will already have several (hundred) bits of paper floating around the hidden corners of your house that contain goals from last New Year, and the year before that, and the year before that. Before you start thinking about what you want from 2019, spend some time looking through your old diaries, the notes app on your phone, the deepest darkest folders in your laptop, to see if you have any goals that you forgot you had. It might sound a little crazy that you could forget what you wanted, but it’s no surprise that our wants and needs in life are constantly changing, and so our ambitions change along with them.
I’ve found old notes I made detailing how I planned to do things that now seem completely irrelevant to my current goals, and that’s OK. It’s just as helpful to find out what you no longer need or desire out of life, as it acts as a really clear indication of how far you’ve come, how much you’ve grown, and what’s still important to you. If you never wrote these things down, try to think back to what your intentions were for previous years. You might be surprised by what you remember.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
This quote (supposedly from Benjamin Franklin) is overused, but oh so very accurate. If you haven’t been the type to sit down to a New Year planning session in the past, and if you’re skeptical about doing so, then maybe this is the year to change your way of thinking. It’s incredibly easy to say “My 2019 plan is to start my own food truck!”, and you might even say it out loud to friends or family, but without some kind of concrete plan in place, how are you going to begin? You don’t need to think of every single little detail this month, but having a way to document your goals can make them feel much more real and manageable.
If you love a list like I do (to-dos, groceries, Christmas present shopping, you name it) then it can be tempting to make a long list of things you want from 2019. Saying that you want to start a business and buy your first car and lose weight and learn to cook and start French lessons and so on, is great if you don’t also have a job and aren’t a fan of sleep, but if you really want to achieve something, focus is key.
What if you chose just the top three things that you feel a) are the thing you want most in life, b) are the most achievable goal, and c) would help improve your life in future? Instead of listing broad goals that are unlikely to all be achievable in 365 days, choose three and give them your laser focus for one whole year. If three feels too much, choose one. It’s better to achieve one goal fully than to start working on six goals that are nowhere near complete come 2020.
Let’s get one thing straight. “2019 is the year I learn to play piano!” is a great goal to have. It’s creative, it’s intentional, it’s full of promise, but it’s also a sweeping statement, and those kinds of goals hardly ever work. Deciding that you want to learn to play piano is only step one, but the key to proper planning is to move onto step two immediately, and that is coming up with an actual plan.
Instead of simply deciding that you want to learn piano, decide how proficient you would like to be in December next year, decide how often you will take lessons, and who your teacher will be, decide how you will save to buy a keyboard to practice on, and decide how often you will practice. Oh, and decide who will be your accountability partner to make sure that you are sticking to the practice plan! Ditch the sweeping statements and focus on specific, actionable tasks that you can tick off one at a time to help you reach your goal.
Change your habits
The most frustrating thing to see other people do with their goals, and to eventually realise that you are doing it too, is to watch them set an intention for their year, and then go back to work in January and not take a single step towards the goal. Not one. And pretty soon it’s March and still no steps have been taken. And then of course it’s December again and you’re digging through your phone notes app and finding those goals that you set yourself and reading blogs like this to help motivate yourself to change your life next year. It’s uncomfortable, I know, but changing your habit of retreating to your usual comfort zone is the only way to see results. If your goal is to start your business in 2019, but you keep procrastinating that first step, where will you be in a year’s time? If your goal is to start your business in 2019, and the first step you take is to get in touch with that friend of a friend who you know has a contact who can help, where could you be in a year’s time? Changing your habits can change your life, there’s a reason there are so many self-help books out there on how to build better habits! Don’t keep waiting for change to happen naturally, change for yourself in 2019.
I hope that you feel excited about sitting down to plan an incredible 2019, and that the tips above help you in some way. When the clock strikes midnight and we move into 1st January 2019, I wish you all an amazing New Year, and thank you for being a part of Desk Life Project this year. This blog was one of my goals for 2018, and I feel so lucky that in doing so, I get to move into 2019 with new freelance friends, amazing brands that support what I’m doing here, and a community of like-minded business owners that I can share my stories with.
A very Happy New Year to you all, and let’s make 2019 incredible.