by: Michelle Briggs, co-founder WMP
Planning is polarizing isn't it? The word either fills you with loathing or lust. We seem to identify with either being a planner or decidedly not being a planner. I wish that we would stop labeling planning as a personality trait and refer to it for what it is, a critical tool and skill that can be developed and refined to dramatically impact your capacity for fulfillment.
In fact, if you follow many planning or organizational people on social media, you will begin to notice something really interesting, many of them have an origin stories as disorganized non-planning people who discovered a planning or organizational system that transformed their lives. The truth is the more naturally disorganized you are, the more your life will change when you adopt consistent planning protocols into your life rhythm.
I fall into the camp of people who enjoy planning, but I am also a person who can get fairly disorganized pretty quickly. I both enjoy the process of planning and NEED the boundaries it provides me. There are few practices in my life where I notice a dramatic deficit in function and contentment more than when I am not intentional planning throughout my year.
Last year brought me to my knees, as I know it did to you too. Intentional planning went out the window along with my sanity. Towards the end of year as my head slowed the spin and my fog began to lift I once again hopped back on the planning train and I instantly regained clarity and momentum. It is so important that I included it as one of our 2021 intentions for the year.
I will be a proactive participant in my life, not a spectator or servant to it. I am the architect of my life. I set the tone for my family. I choose to intentionally and purposefully chart my family's course with forsight.
Intentional Planning is a big to medium picture exercise, as opposed to setting weekly rhythms and daily time blocking (which we discuss at length in The Presence and Productivity Method).
The last week of December is when I like to set my intentions for the year to come and reflect on the one that has past. This is a time where I print a basic calendar and start brainstorming the year ahead, marking important dates that are pre-determined, such as birthdays, school holidays et... and then beginning value based decision making and planning for the year. I also jot down lessons learned and things I don't want to repeat or participate in the next year. This is a great time to knock out your holiday in review as well. I generally set aside 1.5-2 hours for this work session either in the evening or over a long nap. I make my space super cozy make a hot cup of coffee or tea and settle in.
Looking at the year as a whole helps me to see pockets of down time and busy seasons as I dream, scheme, and set some loose plans to months. This is also when I set my intentions for the year as it relates to my mindset, what I want to manifest and accomplish, and my personal development themes.
I keep this brainstorming calendar handy all year long and recommend having a "home" for your planning documents. If you are like me and love paper and pen, a simple file folder will do, or you can keep it bound with your daily planner. If you are a digital planner, like Lydia, then you will use your digital notebook of choice. We both love planning in Notion.
Aside from the big end of year reflection and planning session, I build in four quarterly planning sessions or roadmapping sessions a year. Each session takes me about 60-90 minutes and gives back in spades over the course of the next three months. I use my yearly brainstorm calendar and focus in on the upcoming three months. I get concrete on what is happening and create margin around important dates. I then populate my calendar accordingly with my buffer days and get it done by days.
This work gives me confidence that I am aligning my experiences with my values and creating the memories and experiences for my family that I most desire.
It gives me peace of mind knowing I have already charted the course for what needs to get done and I can free that "mental load" space knowing it is all stored and intentionally thought about.
It gives me freedom to pivot and make changes from a place of confidence and calm instead of stress and overwhelm. In other words, I don't have to reinvent the wheel while creating it in the first place.
This simple practice is live giving and I am so excited to give our HQ members the step by step direction to incorporate it into their lives. HQ members receive a planning workbook, training videos, plus quarterly live planning sessions to set this practice into motion and create clarity and presence in their year!
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