How to Write a 1 Year Plan
3 years ago I bought a 10 year planner. It was 50% off, I thought it was a lark and I frankly didn't have any idea whether or not I'd even make it through the next 10 years. I started doing the thing and it really wasn't what I expected, so I reconfigured my entire outlook on yearly plans and wrote my own system based on the things I actually found useful. Here are my favourite 4 questions in what ended up as my own 1 year plan zine, which I now use yearly, and which you can get ahold of through my Etsy.
Imagine you've already achieved everything you want to achieve in the next 12 months. What's that like? What have you managed to do in the year that has theoretically already passed? Describe those details in the past tense.
I couldn't stop thinking about this question when I first came across it. Writing down things that you want and describing them as though they have already happened sounds like a very inspo hashtag entrepreneur move, but I found myself marvelling at the feelings I was digging up when I was writing my answer. Exploring the feelings of already having accomplished something turns out to be a strangely motivational move for your own sense of hope, and it was a big change for me.
This year, I'd like to eventually be ahead in my writing schedule and the various personal content projects I've got going on. I have goals for personal relationships that I imagine to give me a sense of joy and closeness that I've been working on not avoiding, and goals about my body and lessening it's pains, and goals about writing, drawing, working and exploring. One of my big plans this year is to get back into DnD.
Writing about all of those things as though I've already achieved most of them, or are arriving at the goals for a lot of them, feels wonderful and I'd suggest you give it a go, too.
What is your ideal regular morning routine? What things would you like to do in the morning? Even if you can't fit these things in every day, try and set aside a few mornings where you enjoy this ideal wake up routine.
When I first completed the ideal morning routine questions in my 10 year plan, I surprised myself when I revisited it a few months down the line and found that I wanted things that were slightly different. I don't live a very anchored life, so it does make sense that something like an ideal morning routine should change every now and then. I've included a version of the question in my own 1 year plan zines because I find that my feelings change.
A few years ago when I was working a full time job, I actually found that I was my happiest when I could wake up at 5-5:30am and walk my dog, pack a lunch, eat some fruit, exercise if I'm feeling ambitious and get dressed in a meandering kind of way. Obviously I couldn't stick to this forever, but there were a few weeks where I managed to do it almost every day and found myself happier and more energetic.
These days my morning routines tend to fluctuate dramatically depending on what kinds of projects I'm working on (I find that I work well into the nights when I'm hyperfocused on tight deadlines - thanks, ADHD), but my ideal morning routines currently include waking up at 7am, and not snoozing past 7:30, walking my dog and making a decision about whether or not to buy a coffee that morning on the walk (but probably drinking my own), cooking a breakfast and reading while I eat if I'm home for the morning, and/or commuting to a job after feeding my dog, planning my day on the way and starting my day with emails.
What do you do without someone else telling you to? What do you do just for your own enjoyment?
The first time I answered this question I actually hadn't done something just for myself in such a long time that it threw me off a little bit. I took a long time answering that because I really had to reflect on what exactly were the things that I enjoyed.
It's an easier question to answer now that I've established boundaries on my own time with myself, and thought about this much more over time. I knit, sing, bind books and make zines, just for me. I think of different ways to record my life, most of the time just for me. Occasionally I share these things, but most of the time they're just for me.
What do you think about and talk about often with others? What would you like to be thinking more about and talking more about with others?
Between the first time I answered this question and the last time I answered this question, my answers have changed. I focus on different kinds of subjects for extended periods of time, but my passions have shifted to the subject of mental health and may stay in that direction for a long time to come. The second part is what's more interesting - I already know what I do now, but what do I want to explore more?
I've struggled lately to relax, and even though I filled out my latest 1 year plan in November, this is still ringing true now. I struggle to give myself breaks because I love what I do and I love thinking about what I do, in both my personal and professional projects. I feel like improving my goal setting and organisation skills (even though they're actually pretty good) can help with my complete lack of time off. I only truly take time off all the various forms of working when I'm going through a depressive period, which is already way too far down the line of doing too much. So I gotta work on that.
In deciding to put together a 60+ page comic in late December, I've really pushed back all my original 1 year plan plans. The point of these plans, though, is to be flexible to your new wants and needs. I can't use a rigid plan, and require updates every few months to see where I am, what's still relevant, and what's no longer a priority. I've used schedules in the past since I was a child, but none of them have ever worked for me until I stopped stepping on myself for not Sticking To The Plan.
I've worked out a system that works for me, designed a weekly planner, a 1 year plan zine and threw in a calendar to make it a set for myself (and potentially others), and genuinely have noticed that it's working. If you want to know more about the specifics, have a peek at the Etsy listing, or let me know if you have any questions.
I've written down that I'd like to think about and talk about this stuff more often with others, after all.
Belated new years,
PS. I'm also doing postcards. Look see here for more info.