productivity

Think Big Picture: How to Plan a Year with Heart, Purpose and Intention

December 18, 2023

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Think Big Picture: How to Plan a Year with Heart, Purpose and Intention

Wondering how to find the time to make big things happen in 2024? This episode has the answer: Big Picture Planning! Join me as I share why annual planning is your secret weapon for a fulfilling year.

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plan your year

Planning your year isn’t just a task – it’s an opportunity… 

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 205 of It’s About Time – Now, a lot of times, when people think about time management – they tend to think about planning their day. Creating a daily to-do list, or a schedule. Sometimes people think about planning their weeks. And today we’re going to talk about planning – but not just any planning. We’re going big. Big picture. And we’re talking about annual planning. Annual planning with heart, purpose and intention for 2024. 

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: ‘Annual planning? Another thing to add to my already mile-long to-do list?’ or ‘How can I possibly plan my YEAR when everything is so unpredictable?’ Believe me, I understand where you’re coming from. But stick with me, because today’s episode is going to tackle all those questions, concerns and more.

So today, we’re talking about

  • How planning your year is the best approach for an intentional year
  • Why planning your year doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated
  • How big picture annual planning can lead to a more focused and fulfilling year
  • Your new favorite, can’t-live-without-it, big picture annual planning tool 

Let’s start by painting a picture. Imagine it’s December 31st, 2024. You’re sitting back, sipping on a warm cup of your favorite beverage – I’m definitely having a Peppermint Mocha, reflecting on the year. 

As you look through your planner, or scroll through your calendar app,  you see not just a list of tasks you’ve completed or meetings you’ve attended. Instead, you see a canvas of your year, filled with achieved goals, balanced life choices, and milestones that mattered to you – both professionally and personally. 

Ah – that sounds so satisfying, right? 

That – my friend –  the power of big picture planning. It’s not about filling your days with more things to do; it’s about aligning your time with your deepest values, your ambitious goals, and your personal well-being. And that’s exactly what we’re diving into today.

So, whether you’re listening on your morning commute, during your workout, or as you wind down for the day, let’s open our minds to the possibilities that thoughtful planning can bring. Let’s start thinking big picture.

What is Annual Planning? 

So what exactly is annual planning? 

What is it really about?  Is it just jotting down some resolutions on a piece of paper? Or is there more to it?

Annual planning, at its core, is about setting a direction for your year. It’s like being the captain of your own ship; you decide where you want to go and map out the route to get there. 

Annual planning isn’t about creating a rigid day-to-day schedule. We’re not talking about planning how exactly how you’ll spend every single day for the next 365 days. That’d be alot – and it’s just not necessary. 

Instead, annual planning is about understanding your priorities, setting clear goals, and then, most importantly, aligning your daily actions with those goals.

Let me share a quick story with you. Over the past few years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a woman named Sue. She was successful in her field, a mom of three, and on paper – everything looked great. But she shared that she constantly felt all over the place. Like there was never enough time to do anything besides get through the day or get through the week. Despite her professional achievements, she felt like she was falling behind on the personal side of life. She wanted to take trips, visit family, create memories and do more than just stay on top of work and go through the motions. 

In a nutshell – she felt really unfulfilled in a hamster wheel kinda way. 

That’s when we talked about the concept of big picture planning. So Sue and I worked together to map out her year with not just her work-related projects and deadlines in mind, but also time for vacation, family time, home projects and other things she’d never been able to find the time for. During our annual planning session, she was able to get a bird’s eye, big picture view of her whole year and identify the perfect time to take a big family vacation, to take weekend trips to visit family, and to have a major health procedure that she’d been putting off for years. She’d been putting it off because she knew it would require weeks of recovery time – and when would she possibly fit that in? 

Fast forward to today, and she’s shared with me that this approach transformed her entire outlook on life. Annual planning changed everything – and even when numerous curveballs came her way – she was still able to go back to her annual plan, make decisions and adjust. 

This is exactly what we aim for with big picture planning. 

Big picture planning is about three things: clarity, balance and flexibility. 

Annual Planning is about Clarity 

Clarity, which is knowing what you want to achieve in different aspects of your life. Not just work, not just in your personal life, but your whole life. 

Annual Planning is about Balance 

Balance, because a big picture view of your year enables you to set goals that are aligned with your personal well-being and not just professional success. A big picture view keeps you from spreading yourself too thin and working on too many goals at the same time. It helps you get realistic about when you can spend time on certain things. 

Annual Planning is about Flexibility 

And finally flexibility. When you have a big picture view of your year, it helps you be adaptable to changes and unexpected events, which, let’s be honest, are a part of life.

And this is why annual planning is so valuable, especially for busy female professionals and business owners. We juggle so many roles – leader, entrepreneur, family, friend, the list of hats we wear goes on and on. Big picture planning helps us wear these hats more effectively and with greater joy.

So, as we move forward, keep Sue’s story in mind. Think about how aligning your year with your true priorities could look for you. How would it feel to end 2024 knowing you’ve not just achieved your goals but also nurtured your well-being and passions?

Let’s address your annual planning questions and concerns. 

But maybe you’re still feeling a little skeptical about this whole annual planning thing. And I hear you. I’ve heard a variety of objections, and trust me, they are all valid. So Let’s break them down one by one.

I don’t understand the purpose or value of Annual Planning

First up, some of you have shared that you’re not entirely sure about the purpose and benefits of annual planning. And that’s completely okay. Think of annual planning as not just planning what you’ll do, but also what you won’t do. It’s about setting boundaries so you can focus on what truly matters. This clarity leads to more purposeful action and, ultimately, more fulfillment both in your career and personal life.

 I’m too overwhelmed for annual planning

Next, the feeling of overwhelm. ‘I’m already swamped, and now you’re suggesting I add more to my plate?’ I hear you. 

But here’s a different perspective: Annual planning is actually about reducing that overwhelm. It’s like decluttering your year before it starts. When you have a clear plan, you can say no to what doesn’t align with your goals and yes to what does. It’s not about doing more; it’s about doing what’s right.

Annual Planning seems overly complicated 

Some of you feel that annual planning sounds complicated. But it doesn’t have to be. It’s not about plotting out every single day in super precise detail. Instead, it’s about understanding your key milestones and what you need to do each month, or even each quarter, to reach them. It’s getting a bird’s eye view of your year, and having a preview of what each month is going to feel like before it starts so you can step into it feeling ready. 

And with tools like my Big Picture Year Planning Calendars, this process is made even simpler and more intuitive.

What’s the point of Annual Planning when there’s so much uncertainty? 

Now, let’s talk about uncertainty. ‘How can I plan when things are so unpredictable?’ This is a real concern. But, planning isn’t about predicting the future; it’s about preparing for it. It’s about building in flexibility and being ready to pivot when needed. This resilience is crucial, especially in today’s ever-changing world. By now, you’ve got to know that curveballs are always going to come your way. Are you going to let them crush you, or are you going to be ready to knock them out of the park with your adaptability and resilience? I’m definitely rooting for you.

I’d rather just plan my day or my week and let the year unfold however it happens. 

“Finally, the preference for short-term focus over long-term planning. While it’s important to tackle immediate tasks, without a broader vision, it’s easy to lose sight of where you’re heading. Annual planning helps you align your daily efforts with your long-term aspirations, ensuring you’re not just busy, but productive.

Remember, annual planning isn’t about adding more to your plate; it’s about organizing your plate better.

Big Picture Year Planning Calendars – a Transformational Tool for Annual Planning 

Now that you’re on board with annual planning, let’s talk about a tool that can totally transform the way you approach your year – my Big Picture Year Planning Calendars

I’m so excited to share this with you because I absolutely believe it’s a game-changer for anyone looking to make their year truly count. I’ve used this calendar myself for years, and use them with my 1:1 time management clients like Sue I told you about earlier to help them organize and design the year they want. 

So, what makes these calendars more than just a place to jot down dates and meetings? Let’s dive in.

Well first of all, they’re BIG. We’re talking 3 feet tall for our vertical layout, and our horizontal layout is three feet wide. Big calendars mean big spaces to plan and prep for your year ahead. 

Whether you prefer a large 2’x3′ calendar for your office wall or a handy letter-sized one for your desk, we’ve got you covered. And they come in both portrait and landscape because we know everyone works differently.

Each calendar is designed to give you a clear visual of your entire year all at once. This isn’t about overwhelming you with details; it’s about giving you a broad view so you can pinpoint key events, deadlines, and goals at a glance. It’s clarity and focus, right on your wall.

Your Big Picture Year calendar isn’t just a place to write down key dates, it’s your planning companion for the whole year – encouraging a holistic approach to mapping out how you’ll spend your time personally and professionally. 

They simplify the planning process, making it less overwhelming, adaptable to uncertainties, and aligned with both your short-term tasks and long-term vision.

Imagine starting each day knowing exactly what you need to focus on, how it ties into your bigger goals, and being able to adjust as life happens. That’s the power of having a Big Picture Year Planning Calendar in your space.

So, if you’re ready to take control of your 2024 go straight to bigpictureyear.com

You’ll get 4 different color options and 4 different layout options so you can choose what’s best for you. You’ll also get Simple instructions for How to Print Your Big Picture Planning Calendar even if you don’t have a local print shop nearby and my Annual Planning Essentials Supply List (with super handy clickable links!) 

Order your Big Picture Year Planning calendar, and let’s make this year one of purpose, achievement, and personal growth.

Remember, planning your year isn’t just a task; it’s an opportunity to shape your life according to your dreams and values. Here’s to a 2024 filled with heart, purpose, and intention!

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