When a new year starts, we are very attracted by the idea of change and improving ourselves. We tend to establish new resolutions, objectives and goals but we don’t pay too much attention to the plan we are going to follow to achieve them.
As a result, our good intentions don’t last for long, and we give up after a few weeks.
For a long time, I felt frustrated with my resolutions but after I realized that having a solid plan is crucial my productivity increased a lot.
Why planning is essential
Planning is the most important part of achieving new goals because it transforms good intentions into actions. These actions will eventually create habits that will be the key to reaching your objectives.
Consider a plan as a road map that will provide directions and guidance even if you feel lost.
1. Understanding what do you want to achieve and why
If you could accomplish only one thing in the next year, what would it be? The answer to that question usually reveals your priority for the coming year. Deeply think about why you want to achieve such a thing and write your reasons down.
Also, reviewing the previous year is a very effective way to understand where you are and what you want to do.
2. Break your goal into the smallest possible actions
Publishing a book is a massive and intimidating project but writing a sentence is not. Break the project into affordable and achievable tasks that you can work on every day.
Breaking the whole process helps to identify the critical parts of it and also creates a big picture of the entire process.
3. Set up deadlines for the different parts of the project
Once you have split your project into its essential parts is easy to set up realistic deadlines and commit to complete them.
Some of those deadlines will be repetitive tasks you have to complete (write for 2 hours every day) and other deadlines will be small milestones that include several tasks (finish the first draft of the book, find an editor, design the cover, etc.).
In any case, it’s very important to commit to complete your tasks and meet your deadlines. Use the organization system of your preference, no matter if it’s an agenda, Google Calendar, a To-Do app or sticky notes, but use one.
Writing down your plan strengthens your commitment and makes it easy to track.
4. Review your process weekly
Schedule 20 minutes every week to review how your project is going.
Use your organization system to go through your week and find out what went well and what didn’t. Be flexible and adapt your approach if something is not going as you wish.
Pay attention to what went well and enjoy that feeling, it’s pure motivation that will keep you working on the project.
5. Start small and focus on one thing at a time
Don’t overestimate your power of achieving multiple resolutions, objectives and goals at the same time.
If you aim for many things at the same time, your focus, energy and creativity will be split and also your capacity to stick with your commitment.
Start small and don’t introduce a new goal until you have developed the needed habits for the first one, which usually takes 6 to 8 weeks.
6. Get rid of what is blocking your progress
You will face some obstacles in your journey. Some of them can’t be avoided, but most of them can.
If you identify something that is stopping you, consider getting rid of it. Bad habits are one of the biggest obstacles between you and your goals.
7. Don’t quit
The easiest point in the list to say, but the hardest to achieve.
Forming new habits takes time and a massive amount of effort. The most important thing is to be persistent, even in the low moments.
Keeping in mind your reasons for achieving your objectives helps a lot.
It doesn’t matter how big our goals are. If we want to reach them, we need a solid plan and commitment.
The process is going to be long and sometimes painful, but having a plan makes everything easier and provides guidance and motivation.
What are your goals for the coming year? What’s your plan to achieve them? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments !
PS: My online course Strategy & Business for Illustrators is now available for pre-order!