My Detailed 2019 Planning Process: How I reset my mindset and set my intentions for the year!

January 13, 2019

Photo by Plush Design Studio 

Hi Gang,

I don't know about you, but with the start of a new year, I always have an intense urge to go into "Life Clean Up" mode and figure out how to level up from where I currently am. 2018 didn't go exactly as planned. I constantly made new goals for myself and set exceptionally high expectations for myself. Although I didn't meet a lot of my goals, I made some AMAZING improvements in my life... mainly in the space of mental wellness and self-care. I guess 2018 was the first year I dedicated a lot of time, energy and money (therapy in NYC, even after insurance, is just as high as the skyscrapers those therapy sessions are held in) to healing, and I plan to continue that trend.

One thing I noticed about myself in 2018 is that I can make goals all F***ing day long, but those goals will never propel me forward if I don't start from the right mental place, ie) I have to fix my process! I failed to follow through on a lot of actions and a to-do list I made for myself (like a lot of them), and it took until now for me to figure out exactly why...thanks to two new wellness and business podcasts I've started listening to. She Did It Her Way and The Life Coach School! Don't let the names fool you. I'll list the two fundamental episodes I listened to that led to revelations and have convinced me that I need to set aside a little of time to reflect and think before I create any type of intention or plan for myself for 2019.

So without further ado, here is the detailed outline of my new and improved planning process. Just a heads up, this process is meant to be spread out over the course of a week or a weekend. Don't try to do it all at once (unless you really want to block out an entire day or something like that. I like to do this process over the course of a few days so I can get clear on what I really want.  Some of these techniques have worked for me in the past, prior to my self-confidence meltdown, so I know they work when my head is in the right space. This 2.0 version is meant to serve us in this new chapter of life. After all, we can't expect the things that served us years ago to continue working in the same manner. As we change and experience more in life, our process to handle new chapters has to change as well. I believe that's how we grow.

Action Steps 1 and 2: Tackle feeling overwhelmed and reflect on the previous year!

To be completely honest, I've avoided reflecting on 2018 in a detailed manner because I've felt overwhelmed. Reflecting on the previous year is essential in order to move forward. I cannot keep climbing the stairway to my version (emphasis on the word my) of success if I have a ton of baggage weighing me down. I've tried blocking out the past, and it caught up with me big time in 2016/2017. Also, when I block out the bad from the past, I forget about a lot of the good too. Reflecting on 2018 should include the highs, lows and some ice cream because if you're like me, you're going to cry and feel a slew of emotions during this exercise.

Another reason why I have to overcome my feelings of overwhelm is so I can focus on what I actually want to do in 2019 and what I want out of life! How the hell am I supposed to create a clear vision of where I want to go if my head is spiraling because of all the negative thoughts I'm telling myself.

So now the real question is... how the hell do we actually stop feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or hopeless? I'll tell you. It's not a fun activity, but it's a necessary one. You have to take a seat, grab a notebook, a pretty colored pen, and write down every thought that's stopping you from taking action or making you feel like a bag of poo. Here are a few of mine:

  • I'm never going to make enough money this year to pay off my credit cards 
  • What's the point in creating a business plan? The economy is going to collapse and all my effort will have been for nothing 
  • I can't actually handle the pressure of being the head of a company so accept that I'm going to be a slave to the corporate world until I'm old and grey.
These are just a few of my thoughts. I have a lot of other negative stories I have to stop listening to. Why? Because they are a freaking lie! Our possibilities in this life are infinite, as long as we never give up on our aspirations. These thoughts are in my head to keep me safe; but at the end of the day, I'm not going to spontaneously combust if I don't pay off my remaining credit cards this year, create a successful business or stay in corporate America for a few more years! I'm telling myself a story that these harmful thoughts are sealed by faith and I'm spiraling out of control by creating a worst-case scenario in my mind instead of focusing on changing my thoughts. 

You're probably wondering why I'm focusing so much on the importance of changing our thought patterns in the first place? I'll tell you why! It's because thoughts become things. I've believed this for many years. And this is how our thoughts become our reality: 

Our thoughts create our emotions. Our emotions lead to our actions. And our actions cause the results/situations that we exeperince. 

Now, this is only true for the things we can actually control, but we control way more of our lives than we think we do! We control what job offers we take, the food we put in our bodies, the amount of debt we go into, the amount of money we put towards said debt (yeah, that $40 we spend on brunch could have gone towards a credit card bill), the clothes we wear, what time we go to bed, how well we treat our bodies. You get the picture. Of course, there will always be outside forces that influence or impact our choices or make us feel stuck, but we are still in control at the end of the day. 

So our challenge for part one of this 7 step planning process is to write down all of our limiting beliefs and then write down every reason why those thoughts are based on fear instead of truth. Next, we have to write down how we'd eradicate those problems if they did become true. Fair warning, just because you do this exercise once doesn't mean you'll never battle these exact same thoughts again. They are going ot pop up in our minds all the time. And we will have to say "huh, I hear you brain, but I'm not listening to you because you're not telling me the truth. You're just telling me a story that's driven by fear. 

Here are two questions to ask yourself during this exercise: 
1. What do I want/need? 
2. Why do I think I can't have it?
3. What would it take to get it? 

There you go, that's the longwinded process of step one. The good news is, this is the hardest part, or at least for me it is. But reward yourself after completing this step. You will certainly deserve it!!! 

Time to Reflect
This is the second hardest step because you're probably going to experience a lot of unpleasant emotions. This is how I reflect:

  • I write a list of all the things I failed at in 2018
  • then I write a list of all the things I achieved in 2018 
  • then I write a list of all the good things and bad things that I experienced during the year. 
I use these templates that came with my happiness planner. But I also found some free ones for you to try. 
Action Step 3. Brain Dump Time!

This is when I write down everything that's swirling around in my mind. Everything that I want to accomplish this year or anything that I want to improve on over the course of my life. I usually just grab a few sheets of paper and make a bulleted list. Nothing fancy, nothing neat; there's time to make this list pretty later. And more importantly, no judgment! I'm not allowed to judge myself for anything I put on these pages. For now, we are just meant to chuck everything we are thinking about onto the pieces of paper. I know this sounds like a lot of work, but all the good things in life come with a big ass side of hard work. There's no way around it.

Action Step 4. Prioritize and organize my brain dump.

Aka create a rough draft of my 2019 plan. I take my braindump, a highlighter, and a pen and start numbering everything in order of importance, organizing things by category and figuring out what I can outsource/ what I need help to accomplish. I also like to add deadlines to each of my goals during the step!  Here are the categories I'm including in my 2019 plan:

  • business (my baby)
  • work (day job)
  • physical health 
  • pole & dance
  • relationships 
  • finances 
  • mental health& self-care 
  • exploration & travel

Action Step5: Seek out inspiration.

This is where I research what the women I admire are including in their 2019 plans! They are the drivers in the industry I plan to break into so it only makes sense to adopt parts of their plans that serve me. I take notes on things I can implement into my yearly plan and leave what doesn't serve me.

Action Step 6: Revise and make a neat copy of my plan.

I love creating neat, formatted documents. I am in my most creative state when I have a structured document guiding me along my path. Clearly, things never going exactly according to plan, but at least I feel more secure in my actions when I can visualize what I need to do each day, month and quarter during the year in order to get where I want to go.

I probably have too much fun with this step, but what can I say? I am who I am. If I'm feeling really feisty, I print and bind the first quarter of my life/business plan for 2019 (yeah, my yearly intentions  are going to be broken up into 4 quarters (3 months in a quarter) because I've come to realize that I have to plan my goals out over a long timeframe in order to not feel overwhelmed. Slow and steady really does win the race sometimes.

This is also the step where I add tactics (also known as actionable to-do items) to my plan. This helps me take my goals from mere daydreams to plausible realities.

Action Step 7: Create my vision board!

My favorite step! I usually turn to Pinterest for this task. Basically, a vision board is a visual, yearly plan to keep you encouraged throughout your journey. I love having a visiual reminder of the things that inspire, energize and excite me on my wall. To create an inspired and fun atmosphere, I put on an uplifting show or movie I've seen a thousand times, grab sparking water or wine and start cutting and pasting these photos on my vision board. I'm literally so excited to do this step! It's even more fun if you do this with a group of friends. Have a vision board party. Then you and your crew will be more likely to keep each other accountable to your goals.

Pro Tip: Print your photos on glossy photo paper! It will make your vision board look more like a piece of art and less like a middle school project. If you need a visual example of a vision board, here is a chic example of one. This is how I plan to organize my vision board this year!

And that's it! Now you have the tools you need to get really clear on what you want to do this year. Next, we'll tackle how to follow through with them.

I can never say this enough, thank you so much for spending a part of your day reading this post. I hope you find it helpful. I'm extremely grateful for a platform that allows me to write and share my thoughts. I hope that you find something that energizes you just as much as writing does for me... especially if I have a glass of wine nearby. Wishing you a prosperous and joy-filled year! Please leave a comment below sharing what your planning process is. We are all here to learn from each other

She Did It Her Way Episode 311: 4 Mindsets to Cultivate in the New Year to Help you Ditch Your 9-5!

The Life Coach School Podcast Episode 1: Why You Aren't Taking Action

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