Planning Practices for a New Year

January 06, 2017


During the week between Christmas and Jan. 1, I begin my official year-end wrap up and planning for the next year. I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but I do set some big, overarching goals at this time. Or try to. I have a problem with big, overarching goals. Oh, I can set them all right, but I struggle with the nitty-gritty, down-and-dirty practicality of how to get from here to there. I’m going to try something new this year, which I’ll get to later, but first, I’m going to share with you some tools I use for planning my goals for a new year.

Year-End Review


Before I get into any goal setting, I look back over the past year to see what I’ve accomplished and where I’ve fallen short. This year, I used Marie Forleo’s three-question review, but I also wrote down a list of some of the more mundane things I did that nevertheless were accomplishments, such as reading 109 books, posting to Catching Happiness 106 times, and starting a regular sketching practice (three months and counting). While I fell short on working on my book idea, riding Tank bridleless, purging my house of unneeded items, and various and sundry other goals, 2016 was a better-than-average year for me. I took a moment to savor those accomplishments before moving on to…

Goal Brainstorming

Next, I start writing out all the things that are floating around in my head that I would like to see accomplished in the coming year. This is where I allow myself to dream big, and I include as many of the nagging tasks I’d like to see finished as I can think of. This year, I’ve made a list called “70 in ’17”—70 things I want to happen in 2017. Some of these are writing goals (complete a draft of that book, write some haiku), some are household goals (buy new light fixture for kitchen nook, stain the chairs on the front porch), and some are just for fun (do puzzle with M, buy some new music, go to Fannin Hill with Tank). My idea is to work from this list as I sit down to plan each month.

12-Week Planning

This is the new thing I mentioned above. I recently read The12-Week Year, and I’m experimenting with 12-Week planning. I’m hoping this will solve my problem with carrying out my bigger goals by helping me break them down into much smaller, more do-able increments. So far, I’m still struggling a bit with that—my perfectionism (fear in disguise?) is hampering my ability to choose and break down appropriate goals, but I’m making progress.

Word of the Year

As I’ve done in past years, I choose a word of the year to guide me. Previous years’ words have included open, light, passion, and quality. This year’s word is “deeper.” I want it to encourage me to stop skimming the surface and go deeper, to find the riches that are buried. Be less superficial, more real. Do fewer things, but do them better.

Vision Board

For me, this is just pure fun. I like playing with pretty pictures! I create two—a larger one for my office, and a smaller one to go in my daily planner. I choose images and words that make me happy and draw me to them, that symbolize for me something I want more of in my life.


In January, all things seem possible. It’s in the actual doing that we sometimes run into problems. All this planning, for me, is intended to keep me on track. I share these practices with you in case there’s anything here you might like to try for yourself.

How do you plan for a new year? Do you have any goals or dreams for 2017 you’d like to share?

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4 comments

  1. I like your word of the year--it is nice to have one to set a tone for the coming months! I am not into resolutions either, but I do just hope to have a good reading year and not be so very distracted by starting books all the time without finishing something first. So easy to say now! ;) Happy New Year Kathy (a little late....).

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  2. Dear Kathy - these are all such awesome tips on planning for the new year. Vision Board sounds wonderful - think I will certainly make one for my studio.
    Your word for the year is great - love it. Thanks for sharing. I always take away great stuff when I visit you. Hugs!

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  3. Danielle--Happy New Year, to you, too! I'm going to apply "deeper" to my reading, also: I want to read a few more challenging things in 2017, and maybe even get deeper into my TBR stack :).

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  4. Debbie--So glad you find it worthwhile to visit! Definitely make a vision board for your studio--it's lots of fun, and as an artist, I think you'll enjoy the visual inspiration.

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