In all honesty, I never used to be one to sit down and plan my year out. I always felt like New Year’s resolutions were stupid, like I was making promises I’d never really keep and setting myself up for disappointment when I didn’t achieve them. I also remember, quite clearly, despising any and all planning days at my office job. Even though they were a great excuse to get away from actual work for a day, they were still a snooze-fest.
That said, I’ve realised it’s actually really important for Matt and me to sit down and have a planning day each year. It presents an important opportunity for us to celebrate the victories and share ideas, dreams and goals. It also ensures we both understand what’s important to the other person and our individual and shared goals for the year ahead. If you can do this with your partner, a trusted family member or friend, it really is a great tool for opening up and sharing. We definitely find it helps us talk about things we may not otherwise and brings us closer.
What started as a simple exercise has now turned into something really fun, a day we both look forward to each year and a really important part of our business and our lives. It brings a whole lot of structure and clarity to your life, trust me. Whether you have your own small business, a side hustle or just want to bring some planning into your life, this is a great tool! So, here are my step-by-step instructions on how we run our annual planning day and how you can do your own, to help you plan your best year ever!
What you’ll need
I like to hand-write everything so we use a few blank sheets of paper and coloured pens/felt pens. If you prefer, you could use your laptop. We take an intuitive approach to our planning so choose to use Oracle Cards and The Law of Attraction Cards, combined with our own intuition, for guidance. If those aren’t for you, you can incorporate your own spiritual or religious guides or simply tap into your own mind and heart for guidance. There’s also a ‘letting go’ ritual we start with, which requires some scrap pieces of paper (cut into smaller bits), a saucepan, lighter and keen awareness of fire safety.
Clear out the old to make room for the new
A great way to start a new year or new phase of your life is to let go of things that no longer serve a purpose or bring any good into your life. This one starts off feeling a bit silly and embarrassing but it’s far more powerful than you realise! We each grab a little stack of scrap paper and, on each piece, write down something we want to release, let go of or leave in the past. It isn’t about feeling guilt or shame about past mistakes, rather thanking them for what they’ve taught you, acknowledging they’re no longer needed and releasing them. Here are some of the things I let go of this year…
We write down as many things as we want. They can be bad habits, past hurts, self-sabotaging behaviour, annoyances, frustrations, things that have embarrassed you, bad friends, yucky situations, doubts, fears or anything else you can think of… just clear that sh*t out! Once we’ve written them down, we share them with each other, saying what we’re letting go of and why. Then, we tear up the piece of paper and throw it in the saucepan. After we’ve gone through them all, we set them alight and let em burn, baby! It’s incredible cleansing and clearing out all those old, yucky thoughts and feelings makes way for all the new you’re about to welcome into your life.
Recognise your success
With all that clearing work you’ve just done, it’s a great time to reflect on all the other great things you did last year. We grab a piece of paper and write ‘What We Did Well’ on the top, listing down all the things we achieved. They can be anything and everything, from the small victories to the huge achievements! Nothing is insignificant. It’s a great way to recognise the good in yourself and pay tribute to the great things you’ve done. It’s also a fantastic way to focus on a whole lot of positivity and find the motivation to keep pushing!
We list down personal achievements and professional ones, but they really can be anything. Ask yourself, what are you proud of? What did you do that really made you smile? What did you learn? Did you stand up to a co-worker or friend? Say no when you really wanted to? Improved your skills? Tried something you had never tried before or simply made more time for yourself? Here are some of ours for Little Grey Box…
Find your focus
For our business and each of us, individually, we do up our personal theme for the year. It’s a way for us to tune into where we feel we’re at, identifying the areas we know we need to do a little (or a lot) more work. It also allows us to find our personal and professional focus for the year, helping us to see the bigger picture, know what work needs to be done, mentally, physically and spiritually, to get there.
We use Oracle Cards and Law of Attraction Cards for this part but if that doesn’t feel right to you, you don’t have to do it that way. You can use your own religious tools or simply tap into your mind and heart with some quiet reflection, meditation or deep thought. Just use what we do as a rough guide then use your own tools to fill in the rest.
For this part, we grab a fresh sheet of paper and write something like ‘Phoebe’s 2018 theme’ at the top. You’re welcome to choose words that fit you better if you like. Then, we write down ‘Past,’ ‘Present,’ ‘Future,’ and ‘Manifest,’ on the paper, leaving plenty of room to write below each heading. From our Oracle Card deck, we choose three cards and place them face down. They represent the lessons we’ve been learning, are currently learning and will learn. We also choose one card from The Law of Attraction deck, our manifesting card. Here are the cards we pulled for Little Grey Box…
Each card is flipped and, as we do so, we talk about what we think it means for us, our business or the other person. For example, I turned over the ‘Listen To Guidance’ card and, as soon as I saw it, knew it was about the lessons I have just learned about trusting my intuition and finding a deeper sense of comfort within it. Matt then told me what he’s seen me going through and what he thought this card meant for me.
We follow this same process with the next three cards, writing down what we’re learning presently and what lessons are to come when the time is right, finishing with the card showing us what to focus our manifesting energy on.
Once we’ve gone through each of these, we look for a common theme. Often, we need to talk it through, looking for the common thread between each of the four headings. Without question, there’s always a common thread, a bigger theme at play for the year and a unique phase of our lives taking shape. For me, personally, my theme this year is, “I am the storm,” a line from one of my all-time favourite quotes; “The Devil whispered in my ear, ‘You’re not strong enough to withstand the storm,’ I replied, ‘I am the storm.”
I feel this year is going to be my biggest yet, with a lot of work coming my way. This will bring a new set of challenges. I know I’m going to be pushed to my limit and feel overwhelmed at times. I need to see each challenge as an opportunity and rather than trying to fight against it or avoid it, I need to be strong and immovable within it. I need to trust my inner voice and not be influenced by others. I need to be open to a new set of life lessons and embrace the difficulties. I won’t just withstand the storm, I am the storm!
Like I said, if doing it this way doesn’t feel right, you just do it in a way that does feel right. You might find guidance in religious texts or by sitting quietly and reflecting on what you’ve gone through in the past few months or year, looking for the big lessons you learned. Then, think about where you are right now. Look at the people, things, challenges and big moments in your life and look for the lesson.
The last thing we do is share all our ideas, dreams and inspirations for the new year. These can be small things, like ways we can make our jobs or lives easier by cutting out processing and streamlining others. They can also be bigger things, like video ideas, improvements to the website or things we’d like to buy for our business, like camera equipment. Another great idea is to look for things within yourself that you find difficult or frustrating. Maybe you struggle with making decisions? Take the first steps to work on being indecisive and improve your decision-making abilities. Just to be clear, these aren’t binding New Year’s Resolutions, they’re a brainstorm session where no idea is a bad idea – a way of getting your thoughts and dreams out of your mind and onto paper, making them a reality.
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Have you seen our 12 months in 60 seconds video?
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.