New Year’s Goals
I, like most everyone, like to set goals at the beginning of a new year. I’m a sucker for this season of looking ahead and dreaming of what may be. There really is nothing like it for the rest of the year. Of course, it’s easy to think of all the things I’d like to accomplish, but it’s another thing entirely to actually work toward those ideals. So I always must think of a strategy for myself at the beginning of a new year. If I only imagine my goals and I don’t lay out a path forward, I know I won’t ever get around to it. That is why I sat down to create my 2019 Master Plan just like I have for the past several years. This technique is simple enough, but it makes a huge difference in how I approach my goals for the new year.
Why Not Resolutions?
You might wonder why a Master Plan is better than setting New Year’s resolutions. After all, most people set resolutions, so that’s clearly a viable option. The quick answer is that resolutions have never worked for me. In my experience, resolutions suck. Never in my life have I kept a New Year’s resolution, and there’s no point in continuing something if it doesn’t work. Perhaps they are great for other people, but I simply have never found resolutions to be effective for long-term change.
The long answer is that in order to see lasting change, you need some kind of specificity and structure. Often resolutions are too vague or broad. A resolution to eat healthier does not give one much guidance on how to achieve that, or when that goal has been achieved. Even when a resolution is specific, it only shows you your desired end goal and not a path to get there. That’s where my 2019 Master Plan is different.
My 2019 Master Plan
In my 2019 Master Plan, I decided to focus on specific events or achievements. While they may not directly point to lifestyle changes, all of my goals align with my overarching 2019 mantra, Branch Out. That way all of my goals fit into the same general theme to help me grow in the direction that I want, which will help me achieve a lifestyle change.
The Twelve Goals
As I looked over the whole of 2019, I figured I could reasonably achieve one big thing in each month of the year. That would allow me to keep my focus on a bigger picture item without overwhelming myself (hopefully). So on a scratch piece of paper, I decided on twelve goals that I could set for each month. These projects range between personal and professional goals. Then I assigned each goal to a month in 2019 in the boxes on my Master Plan. These assignments serve as a soft deadline for each of my projects so I have a timeframe to work within. The idea is that if I worked according to my 2019 Master Plan, I would hit each of my goals before the year is out. But it’s not enough to give deadlines for myself — I needed to find actionable steps for each goal.
Three Actionable Steps
When I set big goals for myself, I need to lay out steps. With enormous objectives on the horizon, it can feel overwhelming. Often, I feel like I have no idea where to begin. That’s why it helps tremendously to right away identify some steps I need to take. While these projects each require plenty of steps, I figured that picking three objectives would be a great place to start. So in the three circles to the right of each goal, I wrote down actions I could take. Completing all three steps would put me within reach of my big goal for each month.
Why It Helps
Breaking each big project down this way doesn’t solve everything and make the task easy, but it does help me mentally. Feeling like I have to accomplish some huge task with no idea of the process gives me loads of anxiety. When I feel anxious about a project, I’m much more likely to procrastinate or avoid it altogether. But sitting down with my 2019 Master Plan and drawing up the steps and plans for all of these goals pulls back the veil and adds transparency. If I get stuck later on, I can easily reference this Master Plan and jump back into making progress quickly.
Do I expect that I’ll follow my 2019 Master Plan to the letter? Not at all! In fact, I’ll be pleased if I accomplish half of the items on this plan. The point isn’t to hold myself to some high expectation with this plan. My goal with creating my Master Plan is to give myself a guide to rely on later in the year. Right now, I’m flush with New Year energy where I feel like I can take on the world. However, I won’t feel this way in three, six, or nine months. I’ll find myself struggling to achieve my projects at some point, and my 2019 Master Plan is designed to help me keep moving during those tough times. It won’t be perfect, but I have found that this method of goal setting for a new year takes me much further than resolutions ever could.
Planning Ahead in 2019
If you’re hoping to achieve big things in 2019, then consider how a Master Plan might help you. It doesn’t take much time to create and it will help you all year long. And even if you never look at your 2019 Master Plan again, then taking the time to think up steps toward your big goals will still be immensely valuable. You will still have done the mental labor, which means that it will be easier for you to take decisive action in the year to come. So no matter what, you can gain a lot from a little bit of planning. Create your own 2019 Master Plan today!
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