time management

Plan With Purpose: How to Plan Your Year with Intention Even in Times of Uncertainty

December 14, 2020

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Plan with Purpose: How to Plan Your Year Ahead Even in Times of Uncertainty

Mapping out how you’ll spend an entire year can feel kind of daunting, especially on the heels of the crazy year that we’ve just experienced. Say BYE to 2020 and walk into 2021 with intention. In this episode, I’m sharing the exact steps I take each year to plan with purpose and set myself up for success in the year ahead.




2020 is winding down, and for many of you, it couldn’t come soon enough. Chances are, you experienced a LOT of ups and a lot of downs this year. With the coronavirus pandemic and the ripple effect it created across the many different parts of our lives, I can understand if you’re feeling a little skittish about making big plans for 2021.

On the other hand, maybe you’re ready to just be done with 2020 and you’re totally excited about bringing more order and structure to your life to make up for the crazy year we just had.

Whether you’re feeling a little unsure, a little overwhelmed, a little excited or maybe even a combination of all three – I know you’re going to enjoy what’s waiting for you inside this episode.

When this episode goes live on December 14, we’ll be just a few weeks away from the start of a brand new year – full of possibilities. So even if you’re still in the middle of the holiday hustle, your wheels might be turning a bit about what comes next after the clock strikes midnight on January 1st.

So in Episode 59, I’ll cover

  • Why you should consider making a plan for your year, even when life feels a little uncertain

  • When exactly you should take time to map out your year ahead

  • Plus, you’ll hear the time-tested 3-step process I use to plan my year

  • As well as ideas for how to plan so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up on your dreams and goals before the ink is dry on your list of New Year’s Resolutions.

the best planning advice i’ve ever received

If you’ve been listening to the It’s About Time for a bit, you might know that I started my career journey in the marble halls of Congress as a scheduler to a member of the United States House of Representatives.


Paddle-wheeling the Tidal Basin with the Washington Memorial in the background during the summer of 2007 as a DC Congressional Intern. Photo Credit: Jacob Luneau

Paddle-wheeling the Tidal Basin with the Washington Memorial in the background during the summer of 2007 as a DC Congressional Intern.

Photo Credit: Jacob Luneau

Yep – you heard that right – my job title was Scheduler, and I spent my days parked in front of an Outlook calendar, arranging and rearranging as votes were taken, constituents arrived for meetings and lobbyists asked for favors.

But before I was an official staffer, I spent the summer of 2017 getting a taste of the Capitol Hill life as a Congressional Intern. By day, I sorted lots of mail and gave tours of the Capitol Building. Giving tours was my favorite, and even though I’ve given the tour myself countless times, anytime I’m in DC I can’t pass up a chance to tour the Capitol Building.

Ask me about John Adam’s famous “whisper spot” in Statuary Hall or the Corn Cob columns in the original Supreme Court.

But by Night and Weekend, I was visiting museums, checking out restaurants, visiting shops in Georgetown and going to happy hour. True story – there was actually a coveted happy hour spreadsheet that organized all of the best happy hour specials based on the day of the week. Leave it to the DC Hill nerds to combine cocktails and spreadsheets.

Before I packed my giant blue suitcase with navy Banana Republic skirt suits and nude pumps at the start of the summer – I was given some amazing advice by a former intern – and it’s become some of the best life advice I’ve ever received.

And now – I’m sharing it with you.

There’s so much to see and do in DC. Museums. Historic sites. Restaurants. Bars. Tours. Day trips down to Mount Vernon, or train trips up to New York.

Before you get on the plan, grab one of those tourist books and make a list of everything you want to do while you’re there, and decide when you’re going to do what. Use your weekends wisely.

If you don’t watch out, the entire summer can pass you by. You’ll sleep in, go to the grocery. Watch TV. And before you know it, the summer’s over and it’s time to pack up and fly home.

You can’t fit everything into one weekend, so be intentional. 

Be intentional.

When you’re standing at the edge of a new year – it can feel expansive. And when the year behind you is one like 2020 – the ground can feel a little shaky. Is the new year full of potential? Full of opportunities? Or full of uncertainty and pitfalls.

I don’t blame you if you’re torn between wanting to make big exciting plans, and waiting to put your foot on the brake a bit to see what happens.

Either way – a new year is on the horizon, and it is possible to be intentional and plan with purpose.

When the days and weeks stretch out before you, it feels like you have all the time in the world to do whatever it is that you want to do.

And yet – how often do we find ourselves in October… November – realizing that we have 90-ish days left in the year, and we still have so much left that we want to do. And we wonder… Where did the time go? How did another year go by without organizing my family pictures? How am I still in this same job? How have I still not reached my fitness goals? Where did the time go?

The fact is – the time is there – we just have to be intentional with it.

Just like the advice I got for navigating my DC intern summer – we have to decide what we want to do, and decide when we’re going to do it.

So let’s dig a little deeper into why it’s worth it to be intentional and plan with purpose.

3 reasons why you should plan your year

Here are 3 reasons why you should consider making a plan for your year – even if it’s a loose one:

First. Thinking through what you want your year to look like makes your day-to-day a whole lot more manageable.

When you set goals at the beginning of the year, you define your finish lines and mile markers for the year. It’s a whole lot easier to prioritize how you’ll spend your time each day when you know exactly what you’re aiming for.

But – if you don’t have goals, projects or good habits that you’re working toward – everything will feel really open-ended and potentially overwhelming. You don’t really know how to spend your time, or what to do first – so instead of spending time on something that’s going to get you closer to a goal – you put out whatever the fire of the day is. And then the next fire. And then the next fire.



And then the next thing you know – you’ve got nothing to show for expect a bunch of ashes and empty buckets.

You’re reactive instead of proactive.

Second. Making a purposeful plan for your year helps you make progress on long-term goals and aspirations.

There’s no such thing as an overnight success – and the best things in life take time to cultivate. Graduating with a masters. Saving for a down payment on a home. Starting a business. Creating your signature course or service – this stuff takes time. It’s not a one and done on your to-do list for the day.

Planning with purpose is essential for those bigger, life-changing goals that take a few months, or even years to complete.

Third. Planning your year with purpose keeps you from overloading yourself in January and setting yourself up for failure.

So – what do you have planned for January 17th? Well for me, that’s my father in law, AND my step-dad’s birthday. But If you’re like most people, that’ll be the day you give up on your New Year’s Resolutions. YEP. you heard that right. Most New Year’s Resolutions BARELY make it past the two week mark.

The problem is – we have this tendency to get SO excited about the fresh start ahead of us that we decided to do a complete overhaul – I’m going to start waking up at 5AM and I’m gonna go to the gym EVERY DAY, and I’m going to stop eating CARBS and on and on and on.

And then we promptly get burnt out when we can’t keep up the pace – and we didn’t set ourselves up for success by designing good habits or setting smart goals in the first place!

Instead of front-loading EVERYTHING in January – planning with purpose and looking at the big picture of your year can enable you to space things out, be a little strategic and give certain months of the year a job. You might know how much I love Theme Days like Marketing Monday and Finance Friday, but have you ever tried a Theme Month?

I like to assign a certain theme to some months of the year, so I can focus on different areas of my life without getting overwhelmed by trying to do it all at once.

What planning Your Year Can Look Like

Ok – so now that we’ve covered a few reasons WHY planning your year makes sense, let’s talk about WHAT planning your year looks like.

Honestly – planning your year could take a lot of different forms depending on what you have going on in your life. Whether you’re a 1099 or a W2. And whether you have kiddos or are kid-free.

Maybe you’ve been interested in the idea of planning your year for a while, but whenever you open your planner and sit down, you’re not sure how to start. All the blank squares suddenly feel intimidating and you don’t want to make a wrong choice.

If you’d like to hear more about the step-by-step, 3-Part Process I use to plan my year, press play on Episode 59 of It’s About Time. Or download Plan With Purpose: Your 2021 Planning Checklist that details the exact process I’ve been using for nearly a decade. It’s been refined year after year as I’ve learned about myself, as I’ve studied best practices, and as I’ve learned from experts. Inside the Plan With Purpose, you’ll find TWO checklists: one that will set you up with a Plan to Plan, and the second includes all 29 questions I ask myself during my planning process.

With the Plan With Purpose Checklist by your side – when you sit down to plan your year, you’ll know exactly what to do.





Thank you SO much Lauren S.!

I’m so excited that you’ve been mastering mornings and that you’re excited about time management! I know it’s not the sexiest of topics, but man oh man, it can make such a difference! So thrilled for you Lauren, and so grateful to have you as a listener!


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