Before you look forward, look back.
If you want the best in the year to come, it’s important to first spend an hour or so assessing the year just gone. Celebrate your wins in 2021, however small. Look at the work you created, what you’ve learned, what your biggest challenges were and how you moved through them. Think about what went right and what could be improved.
If you’re interested in going in-depth on this, I have some questions to help you review your 2021 here.
Where are you now?
For a quick assessment of where you are today, just grade how you’re feeling in each of these areas, with 10 being the best you could possibly be, and 0 the absolute worst.
The point here is not to judge, or beat yourself up for past failings – especially not after two years of a global pandemic. It’s just to make an honest assessment of where you are and how you’re feeling about it, so you know what you want or need to improve.
Tim Ferriss has a great tip about grading anything from 0-10, by the way. Avoid 7. It’s a cop-out answer, more neutral than a 6 – where you’re admitting there is room for improvement – and an 8, where you’re deciding that things in this area are going pretty well.
How does your body and mind feel? How are you sleeping? Are you moving enough? What do you need to improve/introduce? Are there habits you’d like to drop or modify?
How do you feel about your financial situation? Are you in control of your spending? Are you earning enough? Do you have savings, and a financial plan for the future?
Are you connected to something bigger than yourself? (Eg. God, purpose, spirituality, or values). How could you do more of this? What gets in your way?
Family & Friends
How do you feel about the relationships in your life? Do you take enough time to nurture and enjoy them? Are there people you need/want in your life? Are there people who consistently drain you?
How do you feel about romance in your life? What could you do to improve it?
How much time do you devote to recreation and fun? What really lights you up? And when did you last do it? How can you create more space, more time to have fun? How often do you really laugh?
Who or what energises you? Who or what drains you? What support do you need? How much access do you have to your creativity right now?
How much time do you invest in self-improvement or professional development? What skills, knowledge or habits would really help you live and work with more ease and grace?
How does it energise you? How does it drain you? Are there activities you’d like to do less? Is there knowledge you need?
How do you feel about where you live, where you work, the stuff that surrounds you? What do you love? And what would you like to change?
Once you’ve done this, take a moment to consider what you want more of, in 2022. And what you want less of.
To plan your year, consider how you could raise your scores by at least one point. Are there any regular habits or activities you could introduce or do more often that would improve more than one area? (For me, a daily walk helps enormously, for instance, with a longer weekly one with my husband or a good friend. This raises my score in Health, Family & Friends, Environment, and Spirit.)
Given that we can’t do all of the things at once, which 1-3 areas do you intend to pay closer attention to in 2022?
How to plan your year
What are your key intentions for 2022? Do a little time travel now. Get out your journal, make a mood board, or just allow yourself some space to dream.
Put your life on fast forward, and zoom 10, 20 years into the future. Imagine everything has gone right for you. The exact date isn’t important; it’s just enough time for you to become the person you want to be, and make the body of work you want to make.
Take a look at your future life. Look at the work you’ve created over the years. And look at the work you’re creating now, in this bright future. Where are you living? Who with? Where are you working, and how? Who are you spending time with? How do you stay healthy and well? How are you contributing to your community, your culture, the world? (If you want more detailed questions on this, grab the free PDF of writing prompts below.)
Now step backwards in time from this bright future. To be on track to enjoy the life you saw, where will you need to be in five years’ time? What will you need to create, to achieve? What habits will you be practicing?
Now come even closer to the present.
- When you’re doing your 2022 end of year review, what will feel amazing to have achieved?
- What do you want to create by then?
- Is there something you want to change, or eliminate completely?
- What habits, routines, regular practices will you need, to be on track to get to the future you want?
- Who will you need to become, to enjoy that future?
- If you were fit and healthy in your brightest future, what do you need to start doing now?
- Did you have a significant body of work (art, novels, music..)? If so, how do you begin that now?
- If you saw yourself surrounded by family and friends, what regular actions do you need to take to ensure that happens?
- Who do you need to know?
- What skills, tools, knowledge do you need?
- What habits or routines do you want to begin now?
If you’ve ended up with an overwhelming list, don’t try to do it all at once. That way madness lies. And it’s a sure recipe for getting nothing new done at all.
This isn’t about pushing yourself, setting endless goals (and feeling like a failure if you don’t reach them). It’s not about new year, new you. It’s about appreciating all you already are, and then gradually building on that.
Just pick your three priorities for this year, this next quarter, and/or a single focus for the month. Concentrate on introducing new habits and routines that serve you, one at a time. One small, permanent change a month will lead to massive results over a year.