Break the rules and plan your fun first

This year I’ve been slow to start. Each time I started to go down the path of “what have I accomplished in 2017” and even more to the point, “what do I want for 2018?” it started to feel like a rabbit hole. Not so much the kind Alice tumbled into, with fun items to look at as she fell into the abyss, but more like a den I struggle to squeeze in, gasping for air and getting further and further from the light.

Don’t worry, the rest of this won’t be nearly as dark.

I just did not want to focus on that end of year timeline. I wanted to be super-duper present and connected to the events in December.

And by what feels like a miracle, I was.

I deleted the emails that urged me to write down my goals, hop on a planning call, and list my wins to celebrate.

I read books with my kids and my niece and nephew. I cooked meals with my sisters. I cozied up with my hubby. And I gave thanks for the life we have.

Over and over.

It wasn’t always easy, but it felt really good in the moment and it feels good now that I’m reflecting with you.

In the month of January, I was able to ease back into work. It wasn’t all smooth sailing. There may have been a teensy bit of striving. A spoonful of panic. A smattering of thinking I’ve set myself up to fail because I was not ready to go-go-go the day the kids went back to school.

Planning for 2018 became part of my January calendar. As we came into the middle of the month, I noticed I wasn’t the only person who had this bright idea.

One of my favorite writing teachers wrote a piece on waiting until February to start the “New Year.” To just rest and be in January.

I thought, “Aha!” If she’s thinking this, I might be onto something.

Then, on my writing group call, another writing coach I love asked us about our goals, but also mentioned no need to feel like we need to be on top of these right at the start of the year. Permission again.

Finally, I got an email this morning about planning for the New Year based on the dates in the pagan calendar, and that now is the time to start gearing up for action. A nice reminder that winter is for rest.

I don’t know if the pagans went about their business like this, but when I did start planning, the first step I took was to plan my calendar around trips and big celebrations. I have a significant birthday this year, as do some of my close friends, and more than one celebration has been planned.

It was so fun to start planning for 2018 by penning in the dates I would be traveling, celebrating a new decade, and spending time with family and friends.

As I was doing so, I started to think this is a planning system I can get behind!

Life celebrations and spending time with people I love is what truly matters to me.

Some of what I’m planning this year is going to call for some basic financing. As in, I only get to go if I can pay for it.

Bingo! I’ve got my special events planned, I know how much I need to pay for them, and I now have some of the hard numbers I need that I can use to drive my goals for the year.

The questions I ask myself?

“What do I want to celebrate when I go to _______?”

“What do I want to celebrate when I see ________ in _______?”

This is powerful stuff.

From here this explodes into the possibility of vision work. I can picture telling my sisters about the journal I designed and sent off to print before I left to meet them. If I want that moment to become a reality, it’s time to sit down and write up the steps it took to get me there. Then to assign tasks and dates.

What about you?

What are the times you already know you’ll be stepping away for vacation or celebrations with loved ones in 2018?

What news would you like to share with them? How can you use fun and leisure to motivate you in the coming weeks and months?

Don’t rush to get this done. According to some – groundhogs and pagans and whoever else – we still have six weeks before we need to really be moving.

Sara Marchessault is a writer, publisher, teacher, and mom who is on a mission to increase joy on the planet. Through the practice of self-reflection, we become aware of what brings us joy and what does not, and we make choices to move forward or stand still. Journal writing is a powerful reflection tool that can help any of us move forward, even in the darkest of times. For ideas on how you can get the benefits of journal writing without always keeping a traditional journal, check out Sara’s book, Beyond Pen & Paper: 33 Experiments in Journaling.

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