I ended 2016 very differently than I have most other years. Instead of going quietly into the New Year with as little fanfare as possible, I experienced a media blitz that had me working harder on my time off than I had at any other time throughout the year.
It was part of my whole alphabet plan to get from Here to the New Year in Good Cheer. It also allowed me to end 2016’s self-titled “Stretch Year” strong by catapulting me out of my comfort zone and consistently into the public arena.
Instead of building on this momentum and jockeying for position in the onslaught of self-improvement programs that January brings about, I retreated. In order to hear the still, small voice among all the shoulding and shouting, I had to get quiet.
As a college administrator, January rivals August as a “don’t mess with me” month. At least not until the students are registered, the faculty is prepped, the staff is informed, and we all get through the first few weeks of classes.
So I’ve resisted the urge to jump into every exciting new program that arrives in my Inbox as well as the temptation to launch my own signature program. It’s not as easy as it sounds.
There is a lot of buzz at the beginning of a New Year. It’s an excellent time to tap into the energy of a fresh start, a new beginning, a clean slate. As much as I wanted to ride the wave and see how far it would take me, I was starting to feel a bit frazzled.
So I asked myself, “What’s the workable plan for now? What’s the next right step to move my life forward at a sustainable rate?”
The answer? Plan my work and work my plan. This, of course, calls for a fabulous planner!
Last year I used Danielle LaPorte’s daily planner, which piqued my interest in planners. This year I decided to try out her weekly planner. Even though this planner works brilliantly for my creatively quirky mind, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Are there other planners out there I might also love?”
Oh yeah. Being organized is big business.
I researched and ordered a few planners that made the top 10 lists. One was the Inkwell 2017 planner. This could possibly be my new favorite planner because of all the fun extras like a habit tracker, mission board, lots of space for notes, colorful tabs, and some pockets in the back to store stuff.
The other was Nourished – the daily planner for a well-fed life. I loved the concept and it seemed like the perfect planner to help me be more deliberate and intentional with my meal planning and fitness tracking. It just arrived over the weekend, so I haven’t worked with it too much yet.
As much as I love each of these planners and are impressed by the details that went into their design, ultimately I have to customize them so they track what I deem important. I need a place to ask the clarifying questions on a daily basis that are just as important to me as knowing where I need to be at what time.
For example, every morning it helps me to ask:
- What is this day about?
- What wants to come forward?
- What needs to get done?
- How do I want to feel?
- What am I willing to do to feel that way?
Every evening it helps me to figure out:
- Where was the magic hiding?
- Where did I get tripped up, lose focus, fall out of integrity, or tell myself something that wasn’t true?
- What was lost?
- What was found?
- What were the HappyThankYouMorePlease moments?
- What brilliant ideas surfaced?
- What thoughts consistently hound me?
- What do I need to sleep on and hope to gain clarity on for tomorrow?
- Where did I excel?
- Where can I improve?
The answers to these questions dictate my actions and determine what makes it on the next day’s agenda.
What about you? How much attention do you pay to your day and how does this attention or lack of attention affect your ability to achieve what you want to achieve?
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. you may want to craft your own “I Have a Dream” speech today. Even if you don’t have any inkling as to how to achieve it or the specifics of what you truly want, just start by stating what you believe is possible. You don’t have to deliver it to anyone else. This is mainly to remind you of what matters and why.
Or, if you are avoiding resolutions or self-reflection the way year-round exercisers avoid the gym until February, that’s okay. Just breathe in, breathe out, and go about your business. Let the dream, the purpose, or the vision find you.
One of my favorite mantras is, “What you seek is also seeking you.” Somehow the timing is always perfect. Trust wherever you are is where you need to be for now.
You’ve got a whole year ahead of you. Plan accordingly.*
I’d love for you to share your favorite planners and any tips or tricks for making 2017 your best one yet in the comments below.
*P.S. – There will no doubt be surprises and things you didn’t see coming in the year ahead. Don’t forget to leave some room for the unexpected in your grand plan. Keeps it interesting!