But as we move into that time of year where the word “planning” is on everyone’s lips, a few unwelcome guests can come along—uncertainty, overwhelm, comparison, and stress. Not our friends, huh?
In just a minute, I’m going to share a bunch of planning resources for you, but first, I want you to get into the mindset of someone who plans but is not ruled by planning, of someone who faces those unwelcome guests and says, “Thanks but no thanks.”
1 | Be kind to yourself.
It’s much easier to focus on the negative than the positive, so make sure you reflect on the positive things that happened this year, whether they were in-the-moment wins or later realizations that good does come out of bad situations.
2 | Be mindful about comparison.
It’s so easy to compare our business (or life, fitness level, office space, etc.) to those around us, but it gets us nowhere good. I’m sure you’ve heard lots of advice about avoiding comparison, but I think it comes down to recognizing it when it’s happening and taking steps to back away from the situation.
3 | Be prepared to get stuck.
You know it will happen, so you might as well prepare for it. Make a list of three things you can do when you get overwhelmed (I shared a bunch of options here ), and then when you feel that stress creeping in, look at your list and act on at least one of those ideas.
4 | Be prepared for things to change.
No matter how thoroughly you plan out the next year, you’re going to get to next December and think, “Whoa, look how much changed from the plan I made!” Be prepared to be flexible and you’ll be much happier when the inevitable change comes along. (As a hint: I like to set big-picture goals for the year, plan out some steps I can take to get there, and then make smaller quarterly goal from those steps. I then choose what I’ll focus on each month, week, and day to get to those quarterly goals, and it all feels much less overwhelming.)
Bottom line? I believe that planning is (tricky but) crucial. It sets you up for greater success than if you just wing it every day, and it will infuse confidence into your business and life that will radiate out to other places (like your content—sneaky, huh?).
Enough chit-chat, you say? Let’s get to the resources, you say? (Pushy bunch!) Below are some great-looking resources (some I've used and some I have not—if you have any questions, let me know, but remember that you should thoroughly check something out before purchasing whether it comes recommended or not) for reflecting on the past year, making plans for the year to come, and then executing those plans. Some are free, some are for purchase, and none are affiliate links. If you have any more to share, I would love to hear!
Reflecting and Planning Tools
Unravelling | Susannah Conway
I’ve done this (free) work to reflect on the past and plan for the future every year it's been available, and it’s a constant in my year that I just love.
Well-Designed Year | Whitney English
You guys, I know Whitney personally and she’s the real deal. She’s developed her core work over time, and it’s a powerful process (the results of which guide me through all that I do). The Well-Designed Year will be relaunched soon; keep an eye out. Well worth it.
The Desire Map | Danielle LaPorte
I know, I know, you’ve heard of it. But have you done it? Go. Now. Because the core question she asks and helps you answer—How do I want to feel?—is so important.
Cornerstone | Laura Simms of Create as Folk
I haven’t participated in Cornerstone (it’s new!), but I’ve been following Laura for a while and feel like this would be pretty amazing. In Laura’s words, it’s “a year of planning, intention, and legacy building.” Check, check, and check!
Tara Gentile | Revenue Planning
Tara calls this “a reverse budget.” I love pretty much everything she does, and this is no exception.
Powersheets | Lara Casey
Many, many people love these goal-setting and goal-reaching worksheets.
Fresh Start 2015 | Nice Ops by Amber McCue
In Amber's words, "Don't go into 2015 clueless! Plan now, celebrate later."
Love a physical planner, whether bound or printable? Look no further!
Day Designer | Whitney English
A classic beloved by many. They are sold in waves, and right now (as of the time I posted), only gift certificates are for sale, but the shop will open again in January. I use the Mini for my personal life and cannot say enough good things about it.
Simplified Planner | Emily Ley
Another well-loved option. They're pretty much sold out for this year, but if you love planners, it's a good one to have on your radar for next year.
Spark Notebook | Kate Matsudaira
Kate created this combo planner/note-taking tool as, in her words, "a place for your life plans and great ideas."
2015 Organizer | Getting Things Done
I’m a huge fan of David Allan’s iconic GTD method (have you read the book? It changed the way I think about organizing forever), and it looks like they now have a paper system you can use. I would have loved this a few years ago—by now, I’ve developed my own system (which I plan to share one day!).
I want one of pretty much everything they sell!
Setting the classic get-in-shape resolution? FitBook looks awesome! I'll be trying it in January.
Daily Dream Creator
A new-to-me bound option!
The ElleBook Planner | Elle & Co
You can join Elle & Co's printable library and print your planner pages each month, then put them in your own binder.
I've been seeing this one everywhere this year!
Laurel Denise Planner
Lots of people are fans of the unique layout!
LiveWELL Planner | InkWELL Press
There are two versions of this planner based on how you'll use it, which I think is smart.
This isn't a product, but rather a system that many, many people love.
There are some printable options above, but for those who might be lacking funds (or the will to commit to one system for an entire year!), there are also some great free printable planning options out there.
Day Designer | Whitney English
You can try out the iconic Day Designer using this daily planning page!
Emily has a whole library of great printables.
Emily M. Thompson
I love Emily for many reasons, but her Get Your Sh*t Together blog series took it to a whole new level. I use her Monthly Income Goal Tracker as a low-tech way to get a big-picture view on my money.
You can give this one a spin for free!
Monthly Calendar | Pen & Peplum
A monthly calendar featuring Miranti's beautiful hand lettering.
Feeling overwhelmed by all these options? Go back up to the top and read that section again. Explore what's making you feel stressed (and maybe add removing that source of stress to your plan for next year!), and don't hesitate to take a break from your planning—you'll come back to it with a fresh outlook.
As a heads up, I'll be taking two weeks off from this space (I'll be spending the holidays in Virginia with my family!), but I'll return the week of January 5. I wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!
And one fiiiiiinal note: In those first weeks of January, I'll be sharing another resource (one I've created) for beating overwhelm. It's free, and I'll be sending it to email subscribers—so if you're interested, sign up!