Today, we begin the journey of personal growth with the first step in our planning. The annual plan. As I mentioned yesterday in my introduction, I use several ideas I’ve gleaned over the years to prepare my goals, projects, and tasks for the coming season. When I sit down with a notepad and begin putting my personal growth plan together, I start with the next 12 months. Here’s a breakdown of what that looks like for me.
As I stated previously, I have many long-term goals that may take years (A Master’s Degree for instance) that I plan for. I keep a list of these in an online file I manage about three times a year. I go over the goals I’ve set and add new ones. I look at goals that will take several steps to achieve and I line out those steps or at least the first ones in view. My goals may include physical, spiritual, financial, or relational targets. These are the big four in most people’s lives. This season, one of the goals I’ve moved from my long range plan to my annual plan is weight loss. I use this only as an illustration because I have several pounds to lose and it’s not something I can plan to do in a month or two. I set an annual goal and break it down into smaller pieces that I will include in later steps that I will share with you in future posts.
The annual plan should include a calendar. Here’s a tip. USE ONE CALENDAR. Don’t try to manage your personal life on one calendar and your work life on another. I use Google Calendar for ALL of my date specific events and reminders and I color code them with the helpful “tags” feature in Google. When you look at the next twelve months, you want to include everything. Put birthdays down. If you are married, list your anniversary. If you have kids (or grandkids), make sure you have a copy of the school calendar and include pertinent information that affects you like their spring break, holidays, early release days, etc.
Next for me is my vacation time. Once I know when my kids are out of school, I can plan some time away. How about long weekends? I haven’t done this enough with my spouse but in 2010, we are planning a few long weekends to just travel out of town (not too far), stay in a hotel, and just enjoy some time away to ourselves to be with each other. Maybe the kids have a special event they would like to go to. Now is the time to see if that can fit into your annual plan.
Professionally, I next look to dates that will affect me in my work. As a pastor, this includes my denomination’s annual convention which is a four day event in mid-July each year. I write that down and make a note to myself to schedule a speaker for that week in my church. (see how this all works?) I then include any conferences or special events I might like to attend. There are good conferences on leadership, spiritual growth, student ministry, and other related items that I may choose to go to. I can plan ahead by jotting these down and adding them to my Google calendar so it’s all in view. I also consider that I may have to book an event or speaker ahead of time in my church so now is a good time to look at potential dates for that and make myself another note to run those by people who have to plan months or even a full year ahead!
By now, your calendar should have quite a few things on it. You should a better global view of your year. Now, begin to look at those goals you’ve set for yourself for this coming year and let’s break them down into smaller spaces of time. You can do this. It’s not difficult when you invest in yourself by planning. As I said previously, I can guarantee if you do not do this, you will still be spinning your wheels in a year and wonder where the time went. Don’t make that mistake. Start today by setting up a calendar that works for you. Use these steps to put everything on it. Review your goals and get ready to plan those out. If you don’t have goals set for yourself, set down for at least an hour or so and write those down before you do anything and be ready to challenge yourself to grow like never before in this coming year.
Next up…our Monthly planning schedule.