Do you want to be more intentional this year? Then, you’re in the right spot. Today I’m teaching you how to do yearly planning to make this your most intentional year yet. Plus there’s a free yearly planning checklist you can download and take with you, so keep reading!
This post was originally published March 10, 2015. It has been revised and updated with a new planning checklist and even more yearly planning help.
The New Year is here! Don’t you just love the fresh start a new year brings?
I’ve spent the last several weeks reflecting on 2021. What worked for me? What didn’t work? What do I hope to see change next year?
I’ve set up my planner, input important dates and reminders, and gathered my checklists.
And it feels so good!
My yearly planning routine is one of the best things I do each year to live intentionally.
There are seasons when it’s easier to set aside time to do a big yearly planning, but more often than not I’m fitting it into the cracks and trying to to squeeze it in between nap times and diaper changes.
Regardless of how it gets done, or when it gets done, my yearly planning process is a great place to start when you want to live intentionally.
What is Yearly Planning?
Yearly planning is the time you set aside each year to take a 10,000 foot view of your life.
Usually this is done between the Christmas holidays and the New Year, but it can be done anytime you feel the need to get organized and be intentional.
Yearly planning is primarily made up of reflection and goal setting, but it’s also when you input key events and plans into your calendar for the entire year, and overall just take a big picture look at your life.
4 Steps to Efficient Yearly Planning
1. Close out the previous year with reflection.
I like to do an assessment of the previous year before diving into a new year. Doing this helps me to make amends with what didn’t go well, celebrate what did, and plan for the changes I want to make in the new year.
I use the questions in my Made to Give Life Planner to guide my reflection time each year, but…
Here are some reflection questions you could use to get started:
- What worked for you last year?
- What did not work for you last year?
- How is your relationship with the Lord right now?
- What three words would you use to describe last year?
- What is draining you right now? Is there anything you can take off your plate? Delegate?
- What lies are you believing right now? About God? Yourself? Others?
2. Set your goals and intentions for the new year.
After reflection, I like to review my mission statement (or overall purpose for my life) before diving into setting goals for a new year.
I created my mission statement many years ago, so this is always a good time to pull it out and refresh myself in my resolution to make it impossible to NOT think about God in every area of my life.
If you’ve never created a mission statement for your life, then download my free guide to developing your mission statement here.
When you’re ready to set goals for the new year, think about the various areas of your life: personal, family, church, social, work, home, ministry.
- How do you want to grow this year?
- What relationship do you want to see change by the end of the year?
- What do you wish you knew more about?
- Is there anything you’ve been neglecting that needs to come back to priority status?
- Is there something you want to accomplish?
I use the Made to Give Life Goal Planner to guide my goal setting each year. Main stream goal setting makes it all about you. The Made to Give Life Planner takes you a step further, and asks, “What about others?”
I also like to choose a word to focus on for the year. After doing my reflections and brainstorming my goals, my theme for the year usually emerges and I just know what my main focus for the year will be. This is usually something I want to throw my whole self into for the year. I like to think of the one area of life that if changed would have the biggest impact.
3. Choose your planning tools and set up your systems for the year.
You can find a full list of my planning tools here. However, for yearly planning you at least want to determine how you will keep track of important times and events throughout the year (then set it up).
My basic set of planning tools for keeping track of my calendar are:
- Made to Give Life Planner
- iCal on my iPhone
My basic set of yearly planning systems for capturing and creating to-do lists are:
- MindMup (my roles mind map is a new addition that’s been so helpful; post coming soon!)
Additionally, I like to review my seasonal master planning pages and checklists to decide if I will keep them or toss them.
Seasonal planning pages:
Each season, I review my rhythms and routines and create master lists. Here’s some from previous years to give you an idea of what I mean.
- Fall Rhythm & Routines
- Fall Meal Ideas
- Fall Prayers for Your Home
- Winter Rhythm & Routines (coming soon)
- Winter Meal Ideas (coming soon)
- Winter Prayers for Your Home (coming soon)
- Intentional Christmas Planning Guide
- Spring Prayers for Your Home
- Spring Rhythm & Routines (coming soon)
- Spring Meal Ideas (coming soon)
- Intentional Summer Planning Pages
Creating master checklists are so helpful in being intentional all year long. I think of checklists as the think once and enjoy all year long! These checklists are the ones I use each year (they are built into the Made to Give Life Planner), but at the beginning of the year I always review them to see if I need to make any changes to them.
- Seasonal Planning Checklist
- Monthly Intentional Living Checklists
- Weekly Planning Checklist (coming soon)
4. Fill in your calendar with recurring dates and important events.
Now that I have my focus for the year and my planning tools and systems decided on, it’s time to start filling in my calendar.
First, I add all the recurring dates like birthdays and anniversaries. As I go, I also add notes to myself for planning birthday parties and anniversaries.
For example, two of my children’s birthdays fall at the beginning of a month. They always sneak up on me. I like to add a note to plan their birthday celebration on the to-do list for the month before. This way I have plenty of time to think about how to celebrate them without pulling it together last minute.
This is also when I will make note of the dates for major holidays that my family observes and usually celebrates in some way:
- 4th of July
- Memorial Day
- Labor Day
Just like with birthdays and anniversaries, I go ahead and make notes for things I like to do around each holiday.
For example, we like to go camping over Memorial Day weekend. I need to book the camp site far in advance if we want to get a spot at a campground we’re hoping for. So I make a note to book the campsite in March since most of the campgrounds let you to book sixty days in advance.
I continue doing this for all the major events, holidays, and vacations. The point is to do as much of the planning now, setting reminders in my calendar, etc. so that nothing sneaks up on me during the year.
Some other events and appointments to make note of during this time (this is not an exhaustive list!):
- Previous appointment dates you made last year (doctor, eye exams, hair cuts, etc.)
- Family vacations or road trips
- Conferences and festivals
- Intentional Conversations with your spouse
- Homeschool field trips (and due dates for reporting)
- Church events
- Swimming lessons for the kids (and other extracurricular activity sign ups)
- Doctors appointments
- School calendar
- House cleaning tasks
- Car maintenance (oil changes, tag renewal)
- Work events and deadlines
Even if you don’t put specific reminders into your calendar, you can make simple notes on the planning page of the month you need to remember to do something. Think through as much of your year as you can, and create reminders and to-do lists to help you stay focused and intentional all year long.
And that’s it! That’s all there is to yearly planning!
I don’t always put this much effort into yearly planning (some seasons I’m just trying to get through the week!), but when I do I’m always really glad I did.
Doing as much thinking, note-taking, and scheduling now means that when I get into the thick of things, I can trust my systems to help me be intentional.
I don’t need to remember birthdays; I already have a note to plan them.
I don’t need to wonder when I need to book camping trips; I already have a reminder to book them when I need to book them.
I’ve done the hardest part now, so I’m free to enjoy the moments and simply follow through all year long.
Plus, with all of the day-to-day thinking out of the way, I have space in my mind to create and try new ideas. It’s like layering onto the year with beauty and goodness that I can’t do when I’m lost in the daily grind of doing the bare minimum.
Free Yearly Planning Checklist
For you, your yearly planning time can be as specific or as vague as you want. It’s entirely up to you and your style of planning.
Since I know it can feel overwhelming when the runway before you is filled with possibilities (and maybe you’re entirely new to yearly planning), I’ve created a yearly planning checklist you can take with you.
This yearly planning checklist is a simple list of all the things you want to do, think through, and take care of before beginning a new year.
I hope you find it helpful.
What about you? Do you do yearly planning? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
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