I can honestly say I had one of the best weeks I have had in lonnnng time. Nothing groundbreaking happened – I didn’t luck up and find money on the ground, I definitely didn’t hit the lotto, and I didn’t check off everything on my to-do list, but it was still a great week nonetheless.
For the first time in a while, I finally felt more in control and confident that everything I have ever dreamed of doing in my life actually has a real shot at happening. So what made all the difference in this most recent week of my life? One little word called PLANNING.
One of the things I have struggled with in the past several years is making progress toward the big goals I have for my future. Sure I have been working toward them, but lately I have felt as though my progress has been stunted. When I think back to my 20’s, I felt on top of the world. My main goal was to be successful and at the time, I had done a pretty good job of that. I consistently received promotion after promotion, worked hard, climbed the corporate ladder, made pretty good money, owned a house, drove a luxury car. Things were on cruise control. My responsibilities were pretty minimal and I honestly didn’t have a care in world. The plan (to be successful) was in full effect and I never thought too much beyond that until I got to my 30’s.
Your 30’s just hit different, especially your late 30’s. You grow, your wants and needs change, you start to truly experience and see life from a different lens. Now as a woman in my late 30’s, life just isn’t that simple anymore. I have gone through some real shit which we can get into later. But my vision for my life has changed dramatically since I was an eager 20-something only concerned with having a successful career. I now realize I want so much more than a successful career and that I have completely neglected other areas that are important to me. For starters, things like full-time entrepreneurship/financial independence, spiritual growth, giving back in the community, improved physical and mental health, building stronger relationships and finding love again. These cups have been running on empty for quite some time. On top of that, life’s demands are never-ending, responsibilities have grown and let’s face it, Navient and her cousins always want their money monthly on time every time.
So with a vision for my life that is 10x bigger than the one I had in my 20’s, my brain simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up with all the things I want to do and have been trying to achieve. I’ve been stuck in this vicious cycle and mindset that if I just try to work longer and harder day in and day out and stay up until the wee hours, everything will get done.
Boy was I wrong. That approach left me feeling completely all over the place, unorganized, inadequate, full of anxiety, physically sick, lonely and depleted to my core on many occasions. I grew tired of operating like this and in late 2019 I decided enough was enough and it would be my last year of functioning like that. I desperately needed a real plan for my life.
I was introduced to a book called The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran at a business conference I attended early in 2019. The book is basically a framework for achieving your goals whether they be personal or business focused. I was super excited when I learned about the book. And if you’re anything like me when you attend a conference, you always leave all pumped and energized ready to pour all that conference energy into whatever you’re working on when you get home. But then life gets a hold of you, you fall back into your usual habits, that energy starts to wane and all the big things you planned to accomplish start to fall by the wayside. Needless to say, that’s how my story ended. I had only read a few chapters before the book started to collect dust.
I was at my breaking point knowing that I needed to make some big changes in my life if I was ever going to meet the future I envisioned. In looking for some positive reading to look forward to in 2020, I revisited my growing collection and picked up the book again in late 2019. I started to read The 12 Week Year and adopt its strategy for accomplishing what is most important to me. It’s great because it teaches you how to focus on your year by breaking it into 12 weeks at a time and identifying just a few of your top goals (like 1-3 max) so you can create a real plan on how you will accomplish them during that period. A lot of times we have the north star in mind of where we want to go but just don’t always know how to get there. So the 12 Week Year is there to serve as a framework so you can plan things out to help you make progress. Plus planning for 12 weeks is so much simpler than trying to come up with a plan for an entire 12 months. I kind of think of it as a way to make incremental progress towards your goals without getting overwhelmed.
I’ve been using The 12 Week Year framework to get moving and start establishing better habits in 2020 and beyond. Over my first 12 Weeks I decided I wanted to tackle 3 main things: create a financial plan, kickoff my wellness journey to get stronger & healthier and test a business venture idea to create a blueprint for several more businesses with a similar model. Sounds easy enough right? WRONG.
While these may sound like goals I can just dive into head first, it’s not really that simple. If I am being honest, my previous daily habits and routines were not remotely set up tackle these goals with the best chance for success. So that’s where the plan comes into place – to help me think more critically about things like what do I need to do to accomplish [INSERT GOAL]? What will get in my way? and How can I combat those things I know will present obstacles?
It’s definitely not going to be easy, but I can say I have seen results from something as simple as a morning routine. Mornings that once started out like a fire drill have become a lot more structured and made it easier to begin my day with a positive outlook and on the right foot.
I now realize that planning is not about sticking to a rigid schedule. It’s about giving yourself a roadmap to achieve all your heart’s desires. It gives you a chance to think through your goals strategically and figure out the small steps you can take on a daily basis to achieve them. Life will continue to happen and all plans should have some room for flexibility, but the value in just having a plan is priceless.
I’m looking forward to continuing the practice of planning what is important in my life and using the tips and tactics I have learned in The 12 Week Year to get there. I encourage you to do the same.