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Planning the Year Ahead with a Free Canva Template

Planning the Year Ahead with a Free Canva Template

Do You Need to Plan the Year Ahead?

If any (or all) of the following apply to you, this article is for you.

  • Have you thought about your goals but aren’t sure how to make them actionable?
  • Are you planning how you’d like the year ahead to look?
  • Have you thought about your goals but aren’t sure how to make them actionable?
  • Do you need a framework to help you manage your dreams and make them your reality?
  • Maybe you are seeking to bring some new ideas to fruition but don’t know where to start.
  • Do you have a clear vision for the future but struggle with the steps to make it come to life?

This article will help you to brainstorm, organize, and create actionable tasks. Plus, there’s a free Canva download! No email address required for this one. 

Manifest Your Dreams This Year

To help you manifest your dreams, you must deliberately focus and take action. It also means you must create actionable tasks, steps, and milestones to achieve your goals. Lucky for you, I’ve created a framework to help you successfully formulate a plan for the year ahead.

In this article, you will find the steps to create successful goals for the New Year. With journal prompts and other resources included in this article, you’ll be living your dreams in no time. Plus, our free Canva Template will help you brainstorm, organize, track your progress, and create actionable steps.

Instant Changes Don’t Happen – You Gotta Plan!

As the year comes to a close, we reflect on the past year. In the process, we can’t help but shift our thoughts to what the New Year will bring. 

It is far too easy to get caught up in the idea that every habit or behavior we dislike about ourselves will somehow melt away with the drop of a crystal ball. Or, all of a sudden, we will become the person we desire – overnight. Perhaps you wish the next year will be different and you’ll finally make your dreams become a reality.

The New Year may be filled with hope, but that isn’t enough to transmute your desires to reality. To change in the year(s) ahead, you must deliberately focus and take action to create your ideal life. This means identifying the habits or behaviors you want to change and concentrating on what you want to manifest in their place. 

Enter: the messy middle. It’s easy to recognize where you are and know where you want to be in the future. But how do you bridge the gap? It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t know how. You’ve likely asked yourself – How do I bring my goals to life? Hint: The answer to this question is in this article.

Questions You Might Have About Planning the Upcoming Year

In this section, you will find answers to your most frequently asked questions regarding planning for the New Year.

Q: Can I plan my professional and personal goals together?

A: It can be tempting to plan professional and personal goals together. However, I strongly advise against this. Ideally, it’s best to plan your professional goals, followed by your personal goals. Having a guiding light for what you want to accomplish professionally helps you better gauge the time to dedicate toward personal goals.

Q: What is the importance of planning the year ahead? Is it bad to plan ahead?

A: When you plan the year ahead, it provides a guiding star to keep you on track. Otherwise, you may reactively respond to situations or issues as they arise. These are likely to take you off-course from achieving your big goals. Yet, this is where the term “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” comes into play. It reminds me of advice I received while working as a supervisor several years back. “Either you run your day, or your day runs you.” By not having a plan in place and responding to crises as they pop up, you are allowing your day to run you. When you create a roadmap for yourself, you are better equipped to put out fires AND continue to progress on creating what you truly want.

Concerning the question, “is it bad to plan ahead?” there are some things to consider. Overly planning the year and being too rigid in your plans and expectations can come back to bite you in the butt. Creating a plan and periodically revisiting it is vital to ensure you stay on track. That said, take some time each month and at the beginning of every quarter to evaluate your goal and current position. Are you on track with your goals? Do you need to make some adjustments to what you’d like to achieve or the approach you are taking?

Q: How do you plan ahead of time and achieve everything?

A: Keep reading this article. You’ll find all the steps you need. And a FREE Canva template to help you streamline the process.

Time for the Good Stuff!

Reflect on the Past Year

To create your ideal life, it’s essential to think about what has happened over the past year. There are many benefits to your reflections:

  • You can assess your progress on previous goals (or lack of progress). 
  • It helps you better understand obstacles that contributed to limiting your ability to reach your aspirations. 
  • You can recognize the ways you removed barriers to your successes. And identify ways you may have stood in your own way.
  • You’re better able to reassess your goals. Are they still in alignment with your overall vision? Do you need to make adjustments to get back on track? Or do you need to take a new path?

Questions to Help the Reflection Process — Journal Prompts

Ok, it’s time to bust out your journal. If you’re the type who loves a beautifully newly bound notebook, go for it! This is the time to use that super cute journal you’ve been reluctant to break into because it’s too cute. Dedicate your new journal to the year ahead. You’ll use it to reflect, dream, plan, and document your progress. Most importantly, write down your successes!!

If you’re a digital journal kinda person, that’s totally cool too! Open up a new document and type out your reflections and dreams. Canva might even be a great place to do this. Their whiteboard function is especially ideal for planning (you’ll find a great Canva tool I created for you in this article!). Ultimately there is no right or wrong way to do this. 

Journaling for ReflectionDon’t Skip this Step!

  • Start by taking time to tally up your successes.
    • What went well this past year?
      • These do not need to be monumental achievements. It can be as small as finally scheduling a therapy or doctor appointment – even if the appointment is six months from now because the office is overwhelmed with new clients.
    • What are you grateful for?
      • Like before, you do not need to celebrate only significant life milestones. If you got married, congrats. But you can also celebrate finally cleaning your vehicle and organizing it. Someone (me!!) may have just recently accomplished a deep clean of their car, and, damn, it feels good!
  • Do I have goals from previous years?
    • If you have these, take a quick minute to find them. You’ll want to reference them when planning the future. You may also want to reflect on these goals as part of your journaling process.
  • Do you have one, five, and 10+ year goals? What are they, and are they written somewhere?
    • Make sure to grab these so you can refer to them later. If you don’t have them, you’ll want to include these in your planning process. 
  • Did you follow through with your previous goals? Why or why not?
    • The why not is the most important thing here. What didn’t pan out as you imagined? When you write out what went wrong, try to figure out if there is another deeper reason behind that one. For example, you didn’t have time to dedicate to the goal. But you 
    • Note: The more honest you are about why you have not followed through with previous goals is crucial for helping you to move forward in the time to come. This is not a time to throw a pity party, so do what you can to avoid falling into a rabbit hole of “shoulda, coulda, woulda.” 

Envision the Ideal Year in Your Head

This is a time to let go of any – and all – confines you’ve placed on yourself. There are no limits to your dreams of the future. There are only the limits you put on yourself. So, remove limitations from your mind. As you move through the dreaming process and then proactively plan the year, you’ll be able to figure out creative ways to make your dreams a reality — as long as you’ve allowed your mind to run wild with big dreams. 

Prepare Yourself to Plan the Your Entire Year

If you are an office supply junkie (I feel ya!), this is precisely the moment you’ve been craving. It is the excuse you’ve wanted to purchase new post-its, pens, markers, or any other tool to inspire your brainstorming process.

My fav approach involves a LOT of post-it notes. As I brainstorm what I want to do for the new year, I jot down thoughts and notes on individual post-it notes.

Not sure you wanna take our relationship to the next level?
You can grab the Canva Template with no strings attached.
I might be biased, but I think you’ll totally appreciate having the printable version.

Planning the Year Ahead Canva Template

CLICK HERE to Download the Canva Planning Template – no email required.

Why you need this template in your life. It…

  • Acts as a guiding light to manifest your dreams, wishes, and desires.
  • Creates space for ideas to flow while capturing them in a meaningful way.
  • Provides clarity for what you want to accomplish in the year ahead, including quarterly & monthly goals.
  • Assists in identifying specific milestones to bridge the gap between your goals and reality.
  • Helps to chunk down larger milestones into individual tasks to keep you on track with day-to-day tasks.

How this planning template helps you:

  • Brainstorm what you’d like to accomplish this year with digital stickies notes, so they are easy to organize.
  • Systematically categorize your goals, milestones, and tasks for the year to support your success. This helps you to create actionable steps to bring your plans to life.
  • Manage your progress monthly, quarterly, and annual progress, including tracking the status of each task or project.

When you grab the Canva template, you’ll be greeted with a Get Started section to help you navigate the planning tool effectively. Plus, directions and PRO-TIPS throughout the template to acquaint you. Check out the sneak peek below!

Bonus: You’ll find extra stickies, graphics, and pre-populated text boxes for easy duplicating.

Snapshot of Planning the Year Ahead Canva Template. Dream Big in bold pink letters with 'I actively create the life I desire below it.'
Sneak Peek of the Canva Template. Psst – There’s more!

Want a more in-depth planning tool? Grab the printable, step-by-step worksheet. Truthfully, it goes above and beyond the Canva template. Full disclosure, it does ask for your email in exchange.

Use these Questions to Help You Plan — Journal Prompts

This is where you will write out the questions you brainstormed to help you for the upcoming year. Keep these separate from your reflections from last year. 

  • What are your objectives for the year ahead?
  • How can you capture your everyday strengths to help you achieve your goals? 
  • What are some potential downfalls you may encounter when reaching for these goals? How can you set yourself up for success by developing relevant skills or outsourcing tasks?
  • What characteristics do you need to channel this year to support your success? What qualities or skills would a professional who has accomplished these goals embody?
  • If you could magically fast forward to the end of the year with all your goals accomplished, how would you feel?

Make *Big Goals* for the Year Ahead

Big goals can be ultra-rewarding when you accomplish them. But they can also cause you to become paralyzed or result in inaction. Like, the outcomes you desire are so exquisite they feel impossible to reach, so why even bother?

This means there are some caveats when planning big goals for the year ahead:

Create goals that challenge you to take action. At the same time, don’t create plans so far-fetched you become discouraged and scrap them before you’ve made a solid effort to achieve them.

How are my goals the right amount or too big? This is a very individual question. What works for one person will only work for one person. To help you bridge the gap between the two, consider having your goals and stretch goals.

What are stretch goals? These are beyond the goals you feel confident in achieving.  Stretch goals require you to push your abilities so much they may need to be slightly out of reach. In other words, when you are unsure if your goals are just the ‘right amount of big’ or too big that they become discouraging. The solution, create two goals: Your big goals and your stretch goals.

Intention Setting

Set Your Intentions in the New Year. In this blog post, you find everything you need to know about intention setting and why it’s better than a to-do list.

Last Year’s Lessons

As we leave each year behind, we can see more clearly the lessons we learned during the good times (and moments we struggled). In this blog post, you’ll find the 10 Lessons I Wish I’d Known Last Year to Help Now. Maybe this article will help you reflect on last year and help you plan for next year.

Block Time in Your Digital Calendar

Time-blocking is a trend that has been around for a while. The basic principle is consolidating tasks to be done together to prevent or limit the need to shift between tasks. In other words, when we group similar jobs, we are more efficient with our time.

Some examples of tasks to consolidate for time-blocking:

  • Schedule meetings on one day of the week.
  • Limit doctor’s check-ups or similar appointments to a single day of the week or month.
  • Keep one day a week, bimonthly, or monthly to dedicate to admin tasks. All those pesky tasks that end up sucking up time and distracting you from the vital work.
  • Relegate checking your email or messages to once or twice a day. This way, you run your day instead of letting your day run you.
  • Plan a distraction-free day every week. This means no scheduled appointments to interrupt your focus or workflow. You can dedicate this time to finishing an important project or tasks that require deep thinking, which is more efficient to accomplish in one large time-block.

If you are unfamiliar with the process, I encourage you to check out Pinterest. There are many great resources to help you learn time blocking.

Time-blocking really does help. Back in January 2020, I implemented it with success. But had to scrap it by April 2020 — You know what happened there. I’m getting back on the bandwagon this year!!

Schedule Your Week, Month, and Year

This is where you apply your new time-blocking strategy to accomplish your goals for the year.

In past years, you may have failed to achieve your desires because you didn’t have the time. The truth of the matter, you didn’t prioritize or schedule a time to work toward your dreams.

Schedule time to work toward your goals – and honor the commitment you made to yourself.

Take this as a not-so-subtle nudge to make achieving your goals a top priority!

Here are some ways you can schedule your time throughout the year to work toward your dreams:

  • Chunk down annual goals into smaller Quarterly, Monthly, and Weekly milestones.
    • Remember that we often underestimate how long it will take to complete a task. With this in mind, allow yourself some wiggle room. This is also why it is crucial to proactively plan your days and weeks. 
  • Set aside time each week to plan your time.
    • Monday Hour One is my favorite technique for this. It’s a little too robust of a topic to address in this article. So, I encourage you to check out Pinterest or Dr. Google to help you out.
  • Check-in time.
    • Actively planning your time to work toward goals is important. It is just as essential to schedule time to check in on your progress. This can be done on Friday morning or Thursday evening to see if there are any loose ends you need to wrap up before you close out another week.
      • I try to do this on Thursday morning before my scheduled distraction-free day. I incentive myself to get all the things done on Thursday with the reward of being able to take Fridays off (or take a half day). It’s my motivation to finish things quickly so they don’t get dragged out. 

Set Reminders While You Plan Your Year

Sync your personal calendar with this Calendar stream (Google) to auto-populate reminders – Monthly and Quarterly. Plus a mid-year and end-of-year check-in.

Grab the iCal version here.

Planning Ahead Can Make a Difference in the End

When you proactively plan your goals and schedule time to work toward them, you will be more successful. Make this year different by changing your approach. No more wishing or willing things to work the way you want. This year is all about actively creating the life you desire.

Grab the FREE Canva template now to help gather and organize your thoughts. Oh, and make them actionable! Using this template and applying the information in this article will be empowering to take a look back at the end of the year and see how far you’ve come.

If you found this article helpful, send a link to a friend, colleague, or co-worker!

XOXO Kristi

Last Updated on January 6, 2023 by Kristi Coughlin

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