How to Plan a Year – Ultimate Guide

Here we go again, another New Year’s Eve inevitably coming and you may be already tired of the “New Year,  New Me” bullshit circulating around the webs.

But, if you find yourself in the situation, and most of us do, where you are not satisfied with your life in some of the fields, either love, friendship, career, finance, fitness, health etc. maybe it is indeed time for you to change in 2017.

I know it is going to be the case for me.

Honestly, I haven’t achieved everything I was hoping for in 2016 thus I decided to reach for the help to the most successful people that found the way to go. Here is the most comprehensive online guide of how to plan the year that cumulates all the knowledge I gained recently about the matter.

1. Analyse the Passing Year

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t manage to achieve all of my goals in 2016 and in order to improve in 2017, I need to realise what stopped me from succeeding.

This is the step so many planning guides forget about, while it may be actually the most important one.

As Ray Dalio in his “Principles” writes, most people don’t achieve their goals because they are too afraid and get angry when their problems are being analysed.

While actually, this feedback is the first step on your way to greatness.

How are you supposed to improve without knowing what is the root cause of your 2016 failures?

Imagine you are riding a bike and you keep getting flat tyres. You have two main choices to make. You can either continue cycling and be stopping to pump your tyre every 5 minutes. At the same time, you can stop, analyse the wheel and change the inner tube. Which method do you think will get you faster and further to your destination?

So take your time now and with honesty to yourself analyse 2016. I will wait.

Seriously, I don’t allow you to read further before you do this.

 

2. Five Steps to Greatness
  1. Set Goals
  2. Find the Obstacles
  3. Analyse the Obstacles
  4. Plan
  5. Execute

Now let’s take it slowly.

  1. SET GOALS

I am sure you have at some point in your life come across SMART Goals:

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Realistic

T – Timely

 

I would like to add to the list F – Fucking awesome

Because the thing is, as Derek Sievers, the founder of CD Baby, points out, whenever you have a choice to make, you have two options. It is either “Fuck Yes” or “No”. As someone else pointed out once, “99% commitment is no commitment”. That’s why your goals should be only of a great excitement to you. This is another way to avoid ‘the dip” (check out my post about the dip here)

That is why I would like to ask you to think of your goals this way. Don’t think of them as if what would your mum want you to achieve. You live for yourself, not for her. So if there is something that is truly important to you, that’s the way to go.

So, breaking SMARTF into parts

Specific

Bad example: Get rich

Good example: Earn £1 million

Measurable

Bad example: Improve my social life

Good example: Go to 30 Birthday Parties

 

Achievable (is it really?)

Here is the thing. One part of me agrees with this but at the same time, I think that a bit of craziness isn’t bad. As Richard Branson said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes and then learn how to do it later”. That is why although you should think first about achievable goals, remember that the greatest things happen when we leave our comfort zone, so don’t be afraid to go a bit over the edge.

Realistic

See Achievable

Timely

Bad example: Write a book

Good example: By June 2017 write a book and send it to the publisher for the review

Fucking Awesome

Everyone gets excited about different stuff. For one graduation seems like an unnecessary career step while others will be crying all day with the tears of joy when the day comes. Thus I won’t point out any bad and good examples here. But for me, I can tell you it is to start an ethical fashion brand. How fucking awesome is that?!

 

Few more advice

What I would like to recommend you is to focus on 1-2 main big goals and then set few smaller ones, that could be potentially related to the big ones. Remember, we have limited time and attention span so it is all about priorities we set ourselves.

 

When you come up with a goal, ask yourself why it is that you want to achieve it?

Let’s say your goal is to buy a brand new Ferrari by August 2017.

But why? What if your reason behind it is to be more admired by women since you are still single? Maybe better way to achieve it is through going to the gym or starting a charity organisation?

Since all of your goals are clear now, please write them all down on few pieces of paper and distribute around your house, bags, cars, wallets. It’s just a psychological trick that will set you up for the success.

One more piece of advice, no matter what your motivations are, set yourself also a financial goal you want to achieve. Write to yourself a bank cheque for the required amount and put it in your wallet. You can’t imagine how many successful people have admitted that they had done it.

 

2. FIND THE OBSTACLES

At this point, I hope you took the first step (analysing 2016) seriously and now you know in which areas of your life you basically suck and need to improve.

I want you to be honest with yourself. I know it can be painful but deceiving yourself and being disillusioned won’t take you far. Just look at your goals, look at your performance from the past and without analysing deeply or thinking about potential solutions please see what the heck is wrong with you.

Example:

Last year I was planning to spend more time learning languages. But with my busy lifestyle, I couldn’t find often enough time to achieve the goal. At the same time, every day I would go after work to Instagram thinking I deserved a bit of chill. The problem was, “a bit of chill” would often turn to be a time I could spend on Duolingo doing few lessons. I am happy to say I managed through building healthy habits to replace Instagram with Duolingo and now Je parle francais un peu.

So look at your goals and knowing yourself think what could potentially stand in the way between you and your destination.

 

3. ANALYSE THE OBSTACLES

Now it is the time I will ask you to go deeper and analyse what is the cause of the obstacle. Remember the example of a flat tyre at the beginning?

When you find it, go ahead and find the way to improve on it. Each thing can be different that I will just avoid giving you any vague advice here. It’s up to you how you are going to tackle it. What I would recommend though is researching more the power of habits since they are the way to turn bad behaviours into successful ones.

 

4. PLAN 

Now that we know what we are going for and what are the obstacles we have to face, we have to set ourselves weekly and monthly milestones.

Also, divide each goal into smaller pieces and set deadlines for each of them.

For example, my goal for 2017 is to read 52 books. I have prepared a list of dates (last days of each week) and a free spot next to it where I am to write a title of a book I read over the week.  That way, you know how you are getting on, if you are on track and if not, why and what you should change.

5. EXECUTE 

Ok, enough of the theory. Go and conquer.

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“Ego is the enemy” by Ryan Holiday

Stoic philosophy is like drugs. When you start doing it, it’s really hard to stop.

But to be a Stoic, it takes practice. In the acient times, the schools were created for only few chosen ones to learn and practice. Nowadays everyone can implement this way of living thanks to the people like Ryan Holiday who show us how.

In this book Ryan gives great examples from the past of how our ego can be misleading. He argues that only when we can control it we can achieve greatness and avoid a failure.

Eye-opening, Ego-shooting. Worth reading!

 

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“The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” by Ryan Holiday

Rarely does it happen that a title of a book depicts so well its content.

Ryan holiday is one of my favourite humans alive. After being a head of Marketing for American Apparel at the age of 21, he change his carrer path at the same time implementing the stoic philosophy into his life.

In the book he presents the timeless examples of succesful people and what they had to go through to reach their goals. All in the perspective of Stoic philosophy.

Are you struggling with your business? The work isn’t as easy as you would expect it to be?

Read the book and keep going. This is the way to go.

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“Jo Malone: My Story” by Jo Malone

The untold story of the queen of fragrances.

Although I have heard a lot about how amazing businesswoman Jo Malone is, I haven’t realised that until reading the book. Jo Malone opened for readers the doors to her past from her early years. This way she allows us to connect the dots behind her success.

The one feature that really stands out is her attention to detail and perfection. One can actually see some similarities between hers and Steve Jobs’ approach towards business.

Definitely a book worth reading for aspiring entrepreneurs that still don’t appreciate the power of networking and progressing step by step.

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“Principles” by Ray Dalio

If you don’t like self-help books and you struggle to find time to read long pieces, make sure you read the publication by Ray Dalio available for free (!!) here

Ray Dalio is an investor running one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Bridgewater Associates. He also appeared on Time 100 list of 100 most influential people in the world in 2012. In 2011 and 2012 he made it to top 50 most influential people according to Bloomberg Markets.

Long story short, he is a succesful person according to the society’s standards.

In the publication he shares with us his life and management principles that he believes helped him to reach the point he is in now.

The most surprising thing is that his insights are unique. I have read few books around the subject and he is the one that stands out. Perhabs that’s why he is the 30th richest person in the USA while the authors of the other books are barely known…

Considering the facts that it takes only few hours to read “Principles” and that they can really change your life, I believe the return on the invested time is undesputable.

 

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“A Guide to the Good Life” by William B. Irvine

Everything you know about stoic wisdom is wrong, probably.

Before reading the book the statement definitely could be applied to descripe myself.

Because of the type of the society we live in focusing on money and the fact that philosophy isn’t a common subject of conversations or education, most people do not understand the beauty of stoic joy. For them there is nothing like stoic joy at all believing that the philisophy is about self-control and the lack of happiness.

So wrong!

William B. Irvine in a very clear way fights this misconeption. The book is very easy to read (or to listen to as it was in my case). The author gives us a great insight into the history of this way of living that was implemented by legendary people like Marcus Aurelius.

The best thing about the book though is that the author himself has recently started living the stoic life so he knows exactly how it is like to change, thus giving great advices and showing actions that can be easily taken to become better stoics and thus improve the quality of your life.

Definitely one of the best books I have read in 2016. Now it’s time to work on myself and put the wisdom from the book into action.

 

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“How to Get a Meeting with Anyone” by Stu Heinecke

Have you ever wanted to get in touch with your role models and heroes?

Or perhaps you know that contacting that one influencer will significantly boost the sales of your company.

If you have read Recession-Proof Graduate you know how important networking and reaching some particular people is important and can bring you incredible results

But how do you go about it?

Stu Heinecke in his book gives tonnes of advice and examples of the people like you who went an extra mile to land the meeting that helped their career significantly.

Stu claims that the Return on Investment and the efficiency of some of his methods is unmet by any other marketing techniques. No matter if you like the statements like that or not, I do not hesitate to say that it should be a very important book for all, especially young people trying to make stuff happen.

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