I hope you had a restful and joyful winter break.
Now it’s time to focus on 2023. And I’m going to be honest. For me, that doesn’t mean a long list of New Year’s resolutions. The nights are long in the UK at this time of year, the weather cold and rainy. My main urge, right now, is to hibernate.
For me January tends to be about drinking less, reading more, going to bed early and walking up to the beach the next morning in time to see the sun rise. I make it a time for rest and for finishing the things I still have outstanding, not for pushing too hard on the new.
It’s about clearing the decks, closing open loops, checking my systems and finishing niggling jobs so that I can start fresh in the spring.
We’re all wired differently
Some people enjoy the meditative mood of January, and find it a great time for looking back, assessing where you are – and deciding where you’d like to be.
I tend to do my end of year review and make plans for the next 12 months just after my birthday at the end of March. It’s the start of the financial year, and also just happens to be when the clocks go back and the days get longer, so I’m full of spring energy.
I’ll often do another reset in September, reviewing if I’m on track and making adjustments to make the most that excited back-to-school feeling I still get after the summer break
When you do your annual review doesn’t matter
But it is important to do it. Whether it’s around the new year, on your birthday, at the end of the tax year, or on a date that means something to you personally, or makes sense in your industry/creative field. (A client who is a literary agent chooses to do her big reset after the Frankfurt book fair, for instance.)
All that matters is that at some point, you take time out to assess the year just gone, and learn what you can from it. Try to do it with curiosity, rather than judgement. This isn’t about beating yourself up.
It’s simply about being honest about what you want, what works for you, what makes you happy and what you avoid. Then making tiny course adjustments, to make the hard stuff easier and do more of what’s working for you.
- What worked for you? What didn’t?
- Who/what energised you, and what drained you?
- What got in your way, and what might you do about it?
- What bought you joy?
- What did you love working on? And where did you procrastinate?
Look at your whole life, not just work
Think about your health as well as your wealth, what you do for fun as well as what you do for work. Family, friendships, your home/work environment, how you’re learning and growing and the skills you’ll need to move forward are all important.
Once you’ve done all this, consider the lifestyle and the future you want, the work you want to make, the things that are important to you. Then use this to guide your planning for the future, and for the next 12 months.
Spending meaningful time with my adult son or my increasingly elderly mum never figured in my grand lists of goals and resolutions, for instance. But both are essential for my happiness, so I now build these into my annual plans.
Most of us are great at creating lofty, ambitious goals
What we often fail to do is put daily routines and actions in place to get there. So our grand resolutions remain just that, year after year.
Perhaps you want to write a new spec script or finish a book in 2023. You want t record 20 new songs, have a big exhibition of your work, run a marathon or finally launch your new website. But you’ll only actually get it done if you clear regular space in your schedule to work on it.
To do the writing, the playing, the running. To make the art, and to build an audience for it. Or break the website into clear actionable steps like ‘Write my about page’ or ‘Find a tech VA’ then give them deadlines and block out time to get them done.
Once you get clear on what milestones you’ll need to pass on the way, it’s easier to know what you need to do in the next week, month, quarter to move you in the direction you want.
Look after your days, and the years will look after themselves
An hour of writing a day doesn’t sound like much. But eventually, that can build into a book, a script, a blog. A regular Saturday morning making music, making art sounds even less. But it will add up to a substantial body of work over time. And those lofty, unattainable goals and resolutions will gradually get realised.
It all starts with reviewing your past, thinking about where you want to be, then planning tiny new habits and routines to get you there.
Review, assess, dream, then plan
To help you start 2023 strong, I’ve created a workbook,Your Next Year. It walks you through my annual planning process step by step. You’ll review the past 12 months. Assess all aspects of your present life and see where there’s room for improvement. You’ll think about the lifestyle you want, the creative work you want to make, the things that are important to you.
Then you’ll make plans for the next year, putting habits and routines in place to help you become the happy, fulfilled and prosperous creative you want to be.
It’s a simple 44-page PDF that you can print and reuse, year after year. It has all the questions I use for my own review and with my clients, and also talks you through the how and why. Interested? It’s £14.99. Buy it and download it instantly by clicking below.