Happy New Year! What are your wishes for the upcoming days and months? How do you spend New Year's Day?

My husband and I have a ritual on New Year's Day. We sit down together and discuss our goals. We focus on holiday and travel plans, as well as things we'd like for our home and garden. We document these and then meet throughout the year to check in with each other to see how we're progressing.

I also keep a little notebook of my own that I use to keep a wish list and things that I love.

Planning is personal. Not just in terms of content, but in terms of approach. Some people are very regimented and like to feel a strong sense of control in their forecasting tools: specific targets, dates and expectations of complete compliance. Some like specific goals and timelines, but are relaxed about the approach to get there and forgiving of themselves if they deviate at times. Some people prefer loose objectives that they revisit regularly and amend. They may use visual cues rather than words or numbers. Some prefer to be open to what life brings them and choose to forgo planning altogether. And, of course, there are variations on all of these and everything in between.

Like most things in life, there is no one right way. If we've spent any time getting to know ourself, we'll have a sense of what works best for us. We can also share approaches, tools and tips with each other. This is quite different from imposing such methods on another or judging someone for not following the same path as us. As the common saying goes, "you do you".

Regardless of the approach to planning any of us use, one thing I've learned in life is that we cannot plan for everything. There will always be unexpected twists and turns along our journey and outcomes we didn't expect. This doesn't need to prevent us from doing our best to forge ahead. It's just a little reminder of our vulnerability and to practice humility and flexibility.

Planning can be very motivating. It can also connect us with ourself: the things we like, the people we love, and our areas of growth. We can plan for what we want and we can plan for who we want to be.

Focusing on what we like is a joyful exercise. It isn't always first nature, but when we make it a practice, we quickly feel and see the benefits.

Another thing I've learned is that periodic check-ins are essential for me to stay the course. This is why my husband and I have monthly meetings. Some of our planned projects are one to four years away. Such goals do not get accomplished overnight, so regular communication is key to maintaining commitment and achieving success. Of course, regular communication also means that we can address any hiccups swiftly - whether change is internal (from one or both of us) or external (forces outside our control).

Related to this point of checking-in is having a partner, if you can. Many people benefit from having an accountability partner when establishing objectives. If you're this type of person, consider who might make a good match for you. Perhaps you know of others with the same interest or goals. As an added benefit, working together toward the same objective can be very bonding and strengthen a relationship.

... and while having an accountability partner is wonderful, this may not be necessary or possible for you. Some of your dreams may feel too personal to share, especially if you don't know of anyone suited to your specific interest. Your idea may be fuzzy and too fragile to subject it to the potential scrutiny of another. Or, you may simply want to work on things privately. This is okay. You may find joy and benefit in creating a dedicated journal or scrapbook, where you progress in your own way. What's the first step you can take to move yourself that little bit closer to making your wish come true?

However you choose to plan (or not plan) for the upcoming year, we wish you a joyful and healthy 2024, and for you to live your best life possible!

January 02, 2024 — Antoinette D'Angelo

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