The Excitement of the New Year
The beginning of a year is always an exciting time. People view the new year as a clean slate; they have the opportunity to make positive changes and do exciting things. People who begin their planner on January 1st tend to also want to use the new year to bring forth change. They also recognize a planner is a powerful tool for making those desires a reality.
In all honesty, though, there is nothing truly magical about January 1st. The only change is the difference in the year. While we grow older, this does not mean we will grow wiser.
First, I want to make it clear that I am not saying you shouldn’t start a planner on January 1st. My intention with this post, however, is to help you determine if starting your planner at the beginning of the year is your wisest choice.
Pros of Starting a Planner on January 1st
There are so many things that make starting a planner at the top of the year so exciting. Here are some of the best reasons why it’s a great idea!
Increased Motivation and Excitement
Like I mentioned earlier, people truly do experience a surge in motivation and productivity at the start of the year. So if you know you are one of those who gets a burst of energy just thinking about the year to come, take advantage of it! Buy your planner (or make it, if you do bullet journals), prepare your layouts, and optimize your set up.
One thing to be aware of: This surge of energy and productivity will not last forever, so don’t expect to continue to harbor these happy feelings toward your planner forever. Harness it during the surge so you can ride it out for the months following this wave of excitement!
Support and Empathy in Planner Communities
You’ll find that there are many other people in various planning and bullet journal communities who will also be starting fresh for the new year. The two months leading up to the new year is always abuzz with chatter and excitement in nearly all planner communities. Why?
Well, people are getting ready to start their new planners! So how does this turn into a benefit for you to start your planner on January 1st?
One, you get a ton of great ideas to help you to start preparing your planner. If you haven’t quite yet ordered your planner, you’ll find out about dozens of planner options to choose from (along with reviews from people already using those planners).
Two, you can also dive in and share your own planner preparations. Some of the planner groups have hundreds (if not thousands) of members in exactly the same boat you are in. I can’t think of anything that could be more fun and inspiring to help you start next year on the right foot!
Something to consider: Find an accountability partner. It could be somebody from one of your planner groups or a coworker who also loves to plan. As you roll into the new year, continue to connect with your accountability planner. Troubleshoot problems and provide encouragement or support to each other.
Great for Setting and Maintaining Yearly Goals
If you are new to setting yearly goals, starting your planner in January will likely serve as a benefit. Why?
A study on goal setting completed at the Dominican University of California indicates that writing down your goals significantly improves the likelihood you will achieve them. And you have 12 months of unfilled planner goodness to start working toward breaking down those goals into smaller steps.
The same study referenced earlier the group of planners that achieved the most success (defined as reaching 50% or more of the goal) did these things:
- Write out their goals.
- Rate their goals on dimensions of difficulty, importance, ability to pursue the goal, commitment and motivation, and if they had pursued this goal in the past (and documenting prior success).
- Formulate action commitments.
- Send the goals, along with weekly progress reports, to a supportive friend.
Use your planner to break down goals into smaller, actionable steps. Break it down into quarterly, monthly, and weekly steps. Then, take the advice from the previous step and work with a planner accountability partner to review progress to increase your success with hitting your goals!
Cons of Starting a Planner on January 1st
The challenges of starting a planner at the beginning of the year aren’t meant to stop you from using a planner in January. Instead, be mindful of each pitfall and work to overcome them to be successful.
You May Treat it Like a New Year’s Resolution
If you’ve never had a planner before, there is something you need to know. It’s fantastic that you want to better yourself. It’s awesome that you want to improve your organization.
The new year will not make that happen overnight. There is no guarantee that you will finish what you start.
You probably feel excited, motivated, and productive right now, but you need to know that those feelings do not last. As with any New Year’s Resolution, you run the risk of burning out and quitting when the good feelings go away.
When they go away, you need to rely on discipline, good habits, and time management to keep you moving forward. You also may benefit from a quick lesson on how to use a planner successfully!
I don’t want to discourage you from starting a planner if you want to change your life. Please, though, look into time management and successful planner tips so you don’t fizzle out in February and wonder what went wrong.
Too Busy to Start
I don’t know about you, but my life is total chaos from December 15-January 15. Between the decorations, the shopping, the cleaning, the family (not to mention all the lovely birthdays in my family that happen in January), planner priority tends to go down a bit more than usual. If your holiday season is just as busy, you may find starting a planner on January 1st to be a bit more challenging.
You have two options to consider if you get buried in holiday busyness.
One, you can obtain your planner well ahead of time (October into early November) and start setting up for the first month or two of the year then. That way when the inevitable rush hits, your planner isn’t going to take a hit.
Or two, if you don’t like to plan that far ahead of time, recognize that the end of January through March tends to be a slower time of year for many. If you are willing to accept the likelihood January’s entries may be spotty, you can wait until the holiday rush slows down to get started.
Not Suited to All Student or Work Schedules
Students and teachers are well aware that the calendar school year does not run between January-December (at least not in the United States). Instead, you likely operate on an August-June schedule. Thus, using a planner that doesn’t coincide with your school or work calendar may prove challenging.
Now again, I don’t want this to be a deterrent if you fall into this category. If you want to start a planner on January 1st, you should! There are a few things to try that may make your life easier.
- Buy a half year planner to start, and purchase a school year planner in the summer.
- Buy a regular planner, and purchase a school year planner in the summer.
- Purchase an undated, 18-month planner that will get you through the second half of your current year and the next year.
- Have two planners; one for school/work, one for home.
Know Better, Do Better
I really hope you succeed. I know the power a planner can serve in life, and I believe everybody could find benefits. If you want to get organized now, you don’t have to wait another half year to get started. Go ahead, start planning, and have fun!
Most importantly, be aware of the problems you may face when starting a planner in January. Work on them now. Have a plan if a pitfall causes you to stumble in your planner. Get an accountability partner. When you know what to expect and create a system to support you in your new planner, then you can definitely succeed.
Please let me know if you are planning on starting your planner for the upcoming year! What do you do to make sure you’ll be successful the entire year? Let me know in the comments!
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