Planning on planning for next year? Do it now!

Kate Bishop
6 min readDec 23, 2021


Being a coach I love to plan as do my clients, as creating a plan enables them to not only assess everything that is going but to also take back control of many aspects of their life and their work.

When they take action and implement they see just how much they can accomplish (often a lot more than previously thought), their plan helps them to overcome obstacles which they believed would prevent them from doing what they really wanted to do and throws up any unseen sticking points.

Of course — when we plan, we envisage what might get in their way, hold them back or stop them in their tracks and of course — we plan for these instances too.

For my clients and I, it is incredibly reassuring knowing we have got Plans B, C, D to ensure we can handle whatever crops up in our way.

Photo courtesy of Brett Jordan, Unpslash

How can you make a rock-solid annual plan?

First things first — ensure you have time at your disposal — however you decide to do this you cannot be rushed so not 10 minutes here or there but, depending on how much you have to plan and how detailed you want it to be, several hours or a whole morning or afternoon to get started.

Secondly — find a space where you will not be distracted or interrupted, create an environment in which you can allow your thoughts and creativity to flow and where you can focus. Put your phone away, ask your partner to not interrupt you, arrange for your children / pets / family members to be entertained elsewhere.

Now for stage 3 — it’s time to decide what do you want to focus on next year? What, in your life, needs your attention, needs some improvement or elevation?

Perhaps it is time for a career shake up, a change or promotion? Maybe this is the year that you decide to move to where you really want to live? Or perhaps this coming year is about starting a brand-new interest, picking back up hobbies you have let slide, dedicating time to your self-care whether that’s your physical or emotional wellbeing?

Photo from Pexels

Initially choose one.

Just one.

Yup — ONE

When we start planning and making changes (especially in the new year with resolutions) we tend to take on too much leading to us feeling overwhelmed and jacking it all in.

You can make a separate plan for each area you want to focus on and invariably there will be crossover, however, to help you choose the first goal you will work on ask yourself:

“What will have the most positive impact on my life overall?”

It may be an area which needs a lot of your attention so then ask yourself:

  • What’s my end goal with this area?
  • How will it improve my life?
  • What is the ideal scenario I want to reach?
  • Where do I want to be in 12 months’ time?

Is it to be promoted and earn a certain amount? If so — what role do you want and how much do you want to earn in your take home pay? What’s the package you want with that role? The responsibility? The day-to-day work and workload?

Next question is for stage 4 — when do you want this by? Without a deadline you will forever be planning or waiting for tomorrow to start — tomorrow never comes!

As Robert Herjavec said:

“A goal without a deadline is just a dream”

Now, in stage 5, consider all the aspects related to your goal as this will build a picture of where you want to get to helping you to drill down into the details. By doing so you will uncover any potential issues, plan to overcome them and you will really start believing that you can achieve this goal — which of course you can.

It’s interesting at this point that some of us may feel a bit overwhelmed — don’t panic! It’s perfectly natural and in fact will help you manage how to deal with it — you may need to have some extra help from a colleague, your manager, a friend, your partner. Or professional guidance from a therapist, nutritionist, personal trainer, or a coach like myself.

Photo courtesy of Jamie Templeton, Unsplash

As you add in all the avenues of help and support you need and have available to you start thinking about the other resources you require.

Is this extra training or mentoring to get you to that next career level? Is it spending some time in the area you are considering moving to, to see if it is right for you? Do you need to learn to cook to improve your nutritional intake? Buy some exercise clothes that you feel comfortable in, so you do in fact work out?

As you have your main deadline you can now add in steppingstone actions and deadlines into your plan. When do you want to have had that extra training by? What are the dates that you can visit your ideal place? When can you take some cookery lessons? When will you go shopping for those trainers?

Avoid Overwhelm

By now, you will have added several dates and details to your plan — nice work. It’s time to review it all to ensure it is manageable. When we plan, we often get super excited and think we can take on much more than what we are capable of — and of course life has a sneaky tendency to get in the way.

Build in extra time, look at what the main issues may be and think about how to overcome them and the little things that may — just may be a bit more of a challenge.

Many clients ask — “how do I actually set this all out?” Here is where you can let your creativity run wild! You will know your own learning styles and have a good idea of what inspires you.

Think about how you want to view your plan each day/week — is it a flow diagram, a spreadsheet, Trello board or diary entries and reminders?

I’d recommend an overview written down which you can refer to and then whatever you need to remind you to take action.

Getting & Keeping Going

It is so easy to get stuck in the planning stage and constantly tweak aspects, however, and this tends to be sooner than we think, you will need to start doing it. This is when an accountability buddy or coach can keep you on track.

Having specific actions to take on specific dates will really help keep you focused as will repercussions if you don’t do these things.

It’s helpful to ask yourself

  • What will happen if I don’t do this?
  • If I don’t do this at the given time, where will I be in a year’s time?
  • How much will doing this move me forwards?
Photo courtesy of Brett Garwood, Unsplash

Key Takeaways

1. Choose just ONE goal / ambition to plan for and work on at a time.

2. Find or create your ideal planning space and time — no distractions or interruptions

3. Set a deadline by which to have achieved it.

4. Add in the steppingstones and mini deadlines by which to take each action.

5. Write it down so you can refer to it quickly and easily.

6. Create reminders.

7. Plan for the unexpected challenges and build in extra time.

8. Get some allies on board to help.

9. Know what tools and resources you need to get you there.

10. Celebrate each win you make!

The key is to start planning NOW! Not mid-January when we are dealing with 101 things that have been put off until after Christmas.

Plan now for much more fun tomorrow, as Benjamin Franklin wisely put it:

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”


Need more help or advice to make 2022 your best year? Let’s chat



Kate Bishop

Kate is a renowned career strategist, confidence guru & coach on a mission to make everyone’s Mondays feel as good as Fridays.