We can choose a word and make goals for our coming year, but if we don’t have a plan it probably won’t happen!
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Successful means “accomplishing an aim or purpose.” We can dream about making changes in our lives. We can choose a word for our year and set goals. But if we don’t have a plan we probably won’t accomplish our aim or purpose—we won’t be successful.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said it perfectly
A goal without a plan is just a wish.
So if we truly want to be intentional about our year, we have to make a plan.
Yes, for many years I was a “wisher” not a doer. Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything in the last 50 years of my life 😉 But there was no systematic plan. Because of that I wasn’t as productive as I could have been. So I’m sharing what I’ve been learning, and am now doing, so maybe you don’t have to waste as much time as I did.
And let me encourage you! No matter what season of life you are in, it is possible to live intentionally. It will look different for each of us, but you can make a plan for the life YOU are living, not the life someone else is living.
1. Plan prayerfully.
If you have been following this series, you may have noticed a theme: Begin each step of the process with prayer. Maybe I’m emphasizing it because I forget so easily. One of my personal goals is to develop a deeper prayer life after all.
But l also bring it up because it is the crucial first step, middle step, and ending step. If we are intentional about the wrong things, things that glorify us and not God, then what good does it do? Yes, we may accomplish some things but will it be all that it could be? Will I burn out? Become frustrated? Give up?
And even worse, will those things draw me or others away from the love of Christ? Will they put the focus on me and not Him?
Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
So let’s begin in prayer. Will you join me in making this your prayer, too?
I commit my goals and my plans to you. You, the Blessed Controller of all things. May all I do glorify and honor your name. Give me your wisdom, teach me to number my days, to make them count. And help me to plan with open hands. Amen.
2. Think quarterly instead of annually.
I now work with a different mindset. The 12 Week Year changed my approach to planning both my personal life and business.
First, think about your long term aspirations, what you want your life to look like 3, 5, even 10 years from now. Then break those big dreams down to yearly goals.
But don’t stop there.
Start thinking of each 12 weeks as a year. When you do, you can set goals and write tactics to help you reach those goals in a doable time frame. There is no way to adequately describe the process in a few paragraphs. I highly recommend the book, or visit The 12 Week Year website where you can sign up for a free mini-course.
3. Write out your NMW’s (No Matter Whats).
I learned this from a wonderful ministry, She Works HIS Way. These are the things that have to be done both weekly and daily. Identifying your NMWs helps you clarify your priorities. It helps you identify what needs to be done despite all the things that seem to so easily derail our days—the distractions, the urgent things that always come up, the spontaneous lunch dates—in other words, life.
And I want to give a little plug for She Works HIS Way (and no, I don’t get paid anything for saying this!). If you are a Christian woman in business, I want to encourage you to join their community! It has been invaluable. They offer Biblical community and business training, encouraging women to put God first, their family’s second, and their businesses third—while still striving for excellence 💛💛💛
4. Time block your ideal week.
This is another step in implementing The 12 Week Year. What would your ideal week look like? Block out times so you have a starting place. I color coded different areas of my life to do this.
Yes, you will need to be flexible because there are no ideal weeks, but at least you can aim for the best.
I’ve created a FREE printable to help you with every step in the An Intentional Year series—for both you personally and your homeschool.
5. Transfer your weekly and daily tasks to your planner.
I know many people keep everything on their phones and computers, but I will probably always be a paper-planner-kind-of-girl. What is important is to write out your plan. Because if you just try to remember what you have to do, it won’t happen. We all know that winging it only works with eyeliner (And that is if you are younger than me. Nobody wants to see eye wings on this middle-aged face!)
6. Find some accountability.
We are always better together. Find a like-minded friend or form a Facebook group. Meet in person, over the phone, or online. But know, all of us will be much more likely to stick to our plans when we encourage one another.
7. Build margin into your plan …
Because you need rest.
My elementary English teacher was obsessed with teaching us to keep our writing within the margins. There is some real wisdom for life there. We all need a little white-space in our lives. As Richard Swenson says in his book Margin, “We must have some room to breathe.”
But he wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea. God designed us, and he commanded that we rest. For our good.
So you can be flexible.
I believe God wants us to live intentionally. But I also believe He wants us to trust Him, to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. To have time to love one another.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Yes, be intentional. But hold your plans with open hands.
What’s the point?
By planning we make time for what matters. Have you noticed how busy we can get with busyness? But just like a budget tells our money where to go, a plan tells our time where to go.
So let’s be intentional with our year!
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
Wonderful tips , suggestions and guidelines! Thank you!
You are so welcome! Thanks for coming by and reading it 🙂
Fantastic post, Kay!
I’m also reading the 12 Weeks Year and it is helping me a lot to set my goals this year!
But as you said: I am prayerful considering what is His goals for me this year and aligning my will to His.
Thank you so much for sharing about my planner!! I am so loving it. 😍👏🏻🙌🏼
Thanks so much Ana! Let me know what you think about the book! And your planner is so gorgeous. I love the Scriptures throughout 🙂
Love this! Sharing! Thank you….I love it when others offer advice on this kind of thing because it’s not my strength. I’m okay, but I don’t rock it! 🙂
You are so welcome! And thank YOU 🙂
I love that you start of with plan prayerfully. That has always been my misunderstanding in the past. I would plan and afterwards pray for God to bless it. But I think once we make God part of the planning we are off to a better start. Thanks for sharing!
Yes! Exactly. I would do that too. Thanks so much 🙂
Prayer is vital in this process, to consult God on what He wants us to do, then sit in silence before God so that He can make His will known. Prayer means that we listen. He will bless His own plans. He doesn’t always bless the plans that we invent for ourselves without consulting Him. We end up so busy doing things that don’t matter, and end up wasting our lives.
The thing that helps me the most is to set small, attainable goals and then ask someone to periodically check in with me to see how it is going. Knowing someone is going to ask, I will be much more likely to get it done! Thanks for sharing these practical tips!
I’m so thankful for a like-minded friend. We ask one another, and you are right, it really makes a difference!
This is actually really helpful to me. I am not really a planner but am trying to be!
I’m so glad. We definitely don’t need to be perfect at it. I like to think forward progress is success!
I love time blocking! And I love the idea of setting quarterly goals instead of yearly. So much can change in a year. Thanks for sharing these tips.
Thank you (and you are welcome!) I’m loving the quarterly view too 🙂
I also agree with planning quarterly instead of annually. I was just mentioning that to someone the other day. Being intentional in each step is so important, especially starting with prayer. Thank you.
Thank you! I don’t know why I had never thought of it that way. It is just so logical!
I will always be a paper type of person when it comes to planning and writing goals. I just found a great blogging planner so I am able to more efficiently plan my blog which then allows me to not push off other items that I was needing/wanting to get done. The 12 week year looks really interesting. Thank you for sharing!
I actually signed up for an email for a free editorial calendar. It is really good 🙂
Great ideas here in this post! I’m not very good at goal-setting so I think your tips would be most helpful!
5 years ago I wasn’t good at it at all. And I’m by far not perfect at it, but I’ve seen the difference it can make.
This couldn’t come at a better time! God wants me to really hunker down and get to goal-setting for my year. I plan on scheduling things out in advance so that I can leave some much needed wiggle room! Thanks for all the great resources to get started:)
Thank you! Yes, I’m learning how important it is to leave wiggle room. I use to try too much, but then wanted to give up when I couldn’t keep it perfectly. I’m scheduling one day a week for just home things. I’ve been so focused on work that I realized I needed to reevaluate.
These are great ideas! I’m reading the 12 week year, too and I’m finding it fascinating! Totally changed the way I’m thinking about planning and organizing.
Thank you! Totally changed my way of thinking too 🙂
I just heard someone else mention the 12 week year. I put it on my booklist today.
Awesome article! I just bought a planner from DaySpring and I LOVE IT! I have to write things down as well. It just keeps me so organized which reduces the stress of “what did I forget” I don’t want a Home Alone incident like the mother had lol I know I will forget things here and there but reduce that greatly by keeping ahead. I can’t stress how less stressful it is to be organized and have a backup plan. This all started when my husband and I first got married and we became SO irresponsible with our money and we were both panicking on how to fix a $50 part in our car! Whenever we made the wonderful decision to get our finances in order this good habit continued to spread into meal planning, planning church events, blogging and so on. Thank you for this great article! <3 Blessings!
Isn’t it funny—planners a so simple, but we tend to forget how effective using one can be. And pretty things make me smiles—o many good ones available. And you are so right. When we get one area in order, others follow!