I know I really left it to the last minute, but for those interested here is how I do my upcoming year planning.
As with the last post (Reviewing the Past Year) I use a mindmap with my 14 categories that breakdown the various areas of my life, plus a few additions.
For each area, I create a Goals section and write out all the major things I want to accomplish throughout the year, formatting them differently for Higher, Regular, and Lower Importance. The importance is an average of the goal’s importance in terms of its value to me, and whether it needs to be done in the nearer future or not. Something that is very important, but can’t be started until October, I give a low importance for now, and will update it when we get closer to October.
It is best to set goals that are as measurable and clear as possible — something I haven’t been too good at in the past, but really tried to do well this year.
For each of the 14 areas I also list the important projects to work on, that stem directly from the goals I set. This includes any carry-over projects from the previous year that were not completed. As with the goals, I use three different formats to show visually the relative importance of the project.
Remember, these goals and projects are going to be your focus for the upcoming year. But to not loose sight of other, more long-term goals or projects, I also have a section in the mindmap (separate from everything done so far) where I list 5 year and lifetime goals for each of the 14 categories as well. This is so I have them in writing, and can update them as needed, without them clouding my overall mindmap for 2011.
One of my main goals is to keep the map as clean as possible, so that it can be glanced at to get an idea of what I should be working on (hence the different formatting to highlight was is most important to be working on).
Example: Health & Fitness
This year I set several goals for my health and fitness. The most important is to improve my climbing and get back into running.
Consistently climb 5.12+
By the end of the year I want to be able to consistently climb routes at a difficulty of at least 5.12+. Since my current climbing level is more in the 5.10- range, this could be a pretty big challenge.
A relevant project for this goal: I want to finish reading both 9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistakes and The Self-Coached Climber, and actually do the recommended exercises.
Run a half-marathon
I’ve only done a bit of running in my life, and for a long time I’ve wanted to run a marathon. I’m not going to be too ambitious this year, though. I’ll stick with aiming for a half-marathon, and once I get one of those under my belt I’ll go for the full thing.
Habit of cooking
The past year was good for doing a lot of meal cooking, but I want to vamp it up even more this year. This is partially because I enjoy cooking and it allows me to eat much more local, unprocessed foods, but it will also help with my ‘Eating Out’ budget (some overlap with Money & Finance).
Visualizing the Year with a Compact Calendar
This year I added something new to my planning. Once I outlined my goals and the corresponding projects to complete throughout the year, I put everything onto a one-page year calendar.
The calendar I used is from David Seah over here, slightly modified to remove holidays and change some colours, and then printed in the centre of a regular sheet of paper. Then I added all the specific known dates and general times when I want to get my projects done, as well as any specific dates for important events—two weddings, and weekend music festival, NaNoWriMo in November, etc.
I intentionally avoided putting too much specific times/dates on my calendar. It’s impossible to plan everything to the day (except for very specific events), so there must be some flexibility the planning.
Overall, this gives a snapshot of my upcoming year, which I post up in my office alongside a printout of my main goals/projects mindmap.
I try to stretch out the goal/project planning over a few days, because I always have some changes to make when I sleep on what I’ve come up with so far.
And that’s about it! Hopefully you find this info useful, and if you’ve never done any year reviewing or planning before, I highly recommend you give it a try.