If you want garlic in July, you need to plant it in October. Hence the importance of planning.
Every year, Edge and I set a weekend aside in December or January to map out the coming year, review our 5 year goals, and do a deep dive into our business and lives.
Now, I know that planning doesn’t sound as exciting as dreaming (I’m a pisces—dreamer extraordinaire), but they go hand-in-hand. It goes like this:
Dream / Plan / Implement
Think of plans as seeds for the dreams, and implementation as the work of cultivation. It doesn’t happen haphazardly. To grow a life you love, you need to be intentional.
That means creating a supportive environment to map out your dreams and plans.
Here are 7 ways to create an effective planning weekend:
1. Block out a weekend + show up for it
Put it on the calendar, circle it, mark it with stars. When the time comes, fully show up. Block social media, turn off the t.v., set an email away message—anything you need to create a distraction-free zone.
This is the time to plant the seeds of intention in your heart. Be present for it.
2. Send your children somewhere special for the weekend
This can be as much fun for them as it is for you. We send our son to his grandparents’ house. The only downside of this is that when he comes home, we need to answer (for the thousandth time) why he can’t live at Nan and Gramps’ house all the time.
3. Plan special meals
Food = Sustenance + Celebration
Eat waffles with ice cream, avocado laden tacos, crock-pot roasted chicken and roots, and hot fudgy brownies with more ice cream.
Seriously, though, it’s important to fuel your mind and treat your body to meals that will sustain and enliven you. This is one weekend we actually take the time to plan our meals, and I always look forward to it. And when you’re working through a deeper or more challenging part of your planning, a great meal can serve either as a reward for finishing, or as a welcome break to clear your mind.
4. Set a course
To get the most out of your planning weekend, set a course*. What direction are you working toward? What are the 1-year, 3-year, or 5-year goals you’re working toward? If you don’t already have these figured out, make it the first thing you do.
If you do have them written down, review them before doing anything else. Honor what you’ve accomplished, acknowledge what no longer resonates, and add anything new that you’re working towards.
[We use the review & goal setting approach from Your Best Year Yet]
*I intentionally avoid the word “agenda” here. Agendas are narrow and passive. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “agenda” is a list or outline of things to be considered or done. This is not very inspiring.
A course, on the other hand, is active, literally meaning: the act or action of moving in a path from point to point, and also, the projected path of travel : a point of the compass.
A course is a journey. Allow yourself room for discovery. Acknowledge that your path will likely lead you to mountains, and a compass will be infinitely more helpful than a simple list of things as you find your way.
5. Make your map BIG + colorful
Get a flip-chart or a wall-sized whiteboard and a rainbow pack of markers. Color coding is awesome when you’re doing life and business planning (green for farm, blue for family, etc).
Yes, there are times a computer is needed to look at cash-flows or get into the nitty-gritty of projections, but to really get the most out of this weekend, let your mind expand beyond the screen.
Write down what brings you alive, what you want more of, and what you’re doing now. Cross out what’s not working or what no longer fits. No matter what, give yourself the space to transfer your goals from heart to paper.
Make the map big enough to hold them.
6. Go for walks
Moving your body does something magical for your mind. Some of our most important realizations and aha moments come while we’re on a walk. This is especially helpful after a few hours of inside conversation.
7. Keep your plans visible
When the weekend comes to an end, don’t put your plans in a drawer. Keep them visible. If you’re like me and create pages and pages of writing, I have a tip: write the most important points on a sticky note and post in on the wall.
It’s important to keep your goals visible. Keep them present and make them a part of each day. When you’re stuck or frustrated or things feel too hard, take your plans out and revisit them.
Tending goals is a lot like tending a garden:
You plant the seed, you water, you pull weeds, and when the plants need a boost of nutrients, you add compost.
You show up and take care of it, and even in the process, it takes care of you: bringing you outside to fresh air, sunlight, and soil, feeding your spirit long before the harvest feeds your belly.
Staying present with your goals along each step of the process will feed you, too. And, as a bonus, it will keep you open to things that you never could have planned to begin with.
In the comments below, tell me: what are your favorite goal-setting exercises? What are your strategies to stay on track? What’s your favorite indulgent meal to support you through your planning 😉