Your First Step in Planning For the New Year

Your first step in planning for the new year

The end of the year brings about a lot of feelings: excitement, nostalgia, anticipation…and, oftentimes, panic.

But before you give that a chance to set in, I highly advise trying something else that will help you process all of these feelings and build a plan from them: Reflection.

Reflecting on business and brand goals before the new year

The idea of planning for an entire year ahead can be supremely overwhelming, and like anything overwhelming, the hardest part can be getting started.

The solution: Start by looking back. After all, hindsight is 20/20, and we can learn a lot from reflecting upon what’s already happened.

Right around this time two years ago, I wrote a post about reflecting and planning for your business. I was excited about the leap into the new year, and doing a bit of reflecting myself over the questions I shared there:

  1. Have I reached the goals I set out for myself this year?
  2. If there was one thing, and one thing only, that I could accomplish with the remaining days of this year, what would it be?
  3. How has my business — and brand — grown over the year?
  4. What am I most looking forward to next year?

These are all very important questions to ask for your brand and business — both to handle the panic you might be feeling now, and to start your planning for the future. But, there was one thing that was missing in this questioning — the thing that makes this entrepreneurship thing possible: a sense of self, and self-reflection.

Turning inward: Self-reflection

Work-life balance as a business owner can remain elusive, and in my opinion, that’s natural — because as a business owner, it’s my mission to make work and life support each other, not work separately from one another.

To make that possible, I have to understand the impact my personal life, health, and feelings have on my business. In other words, I need to self-reflect.

As a lover of traditional paper planning, I start my self-reflection by looking back through my planner from the last year. Here are the types of things I pull out, beyond just the projects I’ve worked on:

Starting with the reflection that extends beyond the projects completed and clients satisfied is important. It’s easy to be reminded that we chose the hard path in pursuing our freedom and choice when we’re in the day-to-day, wearing 15 hats and managing it all, but when we stop to reflect on what we’ve been able to make possible only because we’ve made this hard choice, it makes it all worthwhile.

Having reflected upon all that being a business owner has allowed me to do, I then look at the full picture that includes those projects and clients and ask myself the following:

What didn’t I do, and why? Having celebrated all that I did do, I then take time to look at the things that I didn’t do — whether I said ‘no’ or simply didn’t make the space or time. A lot of information can be found in the reasons why something didn’t get done. Did I not make the time it needed — and if not, what can I do differently to make space for it? Did I not prioritize it — and if not, does it really need to be a priority or does it just feel like a should?

What felt good, and what do I want to do more of? While finishing projects, satisfying clients, and taking time off to travel can give a strong feeling of accomplishment and is well worth celebrating, it’s also worth taking a look at whether that felt right and good. Was that project in line with the work I want to be doing? Was that client a pleasure to work with? Was that travel rewarding? Beyond money and external recognition, it’s doing what feels good that makes the effort worth it — and it’s knowing what feels right that helps me decide what I want to make room for more of in the new year.

What do I want next year to look and feel like? This is where I can get into the real planning. With a solid sense of self in everything I’ve done and say I want to do, I can:

  • Choose my word of the year: What word encompasses the direction I want the year to go in?
  • Create my vision board: What’s included in this year, from work to family and personal development to experiences — and how will it make me feel?
  • Set goals: What are the actionable steps that’ll break down these high-level feelings and dreams into achievable tasks?
  • Prioritize the right education: What do I need — and want — to learn, that’ll help me to feel the way I want, more often?
  • Plan my calendar: When will I make these things happen in the new year?

Self-reflection and the new year

As business owners, we build our businesses to support the life we want to live. We need not forget that fact while we’re experiencing the excitement, nostalgia, anticipation, and panic that inevitably comes as the year comes to a close and a new one begins.

Before you plan, reflect. And above all, practice gratitude for all that has happened and has undoubtedly led you to where you are now. After all, where there’s gratitude, there’s abundance. And where there’s abundance, there’s light.

And if we all enter the new year from a place of light, we stand to make this world a better place.