A Simple and Fun Way to Plan For the New Year
Some say Abraham Lincoln said this:
Give me six hours to chop wood and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Why spend that long sharpening your axe?
Because the sharper your blade, the easier it is to chop wood. You’ll get more done in less time. And you’ll be ready when cold weather comes.
What does that have to do with planning for a new year? Should you spend 8 months of the year getting ready for the other 4?
Easy goal setting
You won’t get anywhere unless you plan to go there.
The first thing you need is a map.
Maps are complex. They have roads, rivers, restaurants, and rest stops. But a map isn’t the territory. It’s a picture of it.
The picture is helpful because it takes some of the guesswork out of going somewhere:
- Where and when to turn
- How far your destination is
- How long it takes to get there
Your map won’t show you what traffic will be like in the future. You’ll have to leave to learn that. But chances are, you’ll figure it out as you go.
This year I’ve decided to mind map what my year will look like. If the term mind map is unfamiliar, it’s just a pictorial representation of how your brain works.
Here’s what one looks like:
Here’s a brief tutorial:
- Start with one idea.
- Branch out wherever that idea takes you.
- Make each section of a branch one word if you can. It’s more flexible that way.
- Keep branching until you run out of ideas.
- Reduce the map to what supports your purpose.
Have fun with it.
Don’t censor yourself.
Pour your heart out.
What you’ll get is something to shoot for. And what’s more? It’ll be your idea, not anyone else’s.
The beauty of a mind map
If you hate writing a list that starts with the number one, you’ll love this.
Use software to write your mind map, and you can move the nodes around, add pictures and links, and fill it with a rainbow of color.
You might even want to print it out and hang it on your wall. Or maybe you can just make a mind map with different color post-it notes on your wall.
Whatever you do, you’ll have a beautiful goal map that’s fun to make and fun to look at every day.
The creative way to stay on track
If you’re reading this, you’re probably a writer.
Buy yourself a notebook. If you’d rather go digital, create a folder on your computer. Each night write 250 words about how your day went. Did you move forward? Did you miss the mark? What stopped you? What propelled you forward?
Nobody will see this but you. So let your emotions run free. Dream. Rant. Solve problems. Do experiments. In time, you’ll know your strengths as well as you know your blind spots.
You’ll also become a better writer.
Resolve to make it to February 1st
They say it takes at least 21 days to form a habit.
Most resolutions are broken by January 14th.
If you can stick to your goals for just one month, pursuing them will become automatic.
If you’re feeling audacious, share your goals with a friend. Tell them you’ll donate $100 or $1000 to their favorite charity if you fail. When there’s money at stake, you add a level of seriousness that mere resolution can’t add.
Now it’s your turn
Set aside an hour or two and mind map your goals for next year. What do you want to have accomplished by December 31, 2020?
Don’t forget to grab a notebook to record your story as it unfolds.
It’s probably the best story you’ll ever write because you’ll be living it!