Simple Planning – How to Plan Next 12 Months

I am a fan of organizing and getting things in order. Today, I want to share a rather simple way to make a simple 12 months plan that works for me hoping that it will also help you to dream, simplify, organize, plan and create in a way that would serve the best for you. I had a chance to share this way of simple planning with a client on a recent conversation and she found it not only quite helpful but also inspiring. And now here I am sharing it with you too, in case, you are looking for a simpler way to make things happen on your own terms too.

I certainly am from the ‘I have too many ideas and no time to make them happen’ camp. I have figured that if I can somehow simplify and make space for new ideas to come and be alive while making the non-negotiables happen I find myself a lot less anxious, pressured or complaining that I don’t have enough time in the day and more fulfilled and joyful. Also, as a multi-passionate creative, I believe it is more important for me to stay organized and have a bigger picture understanding of the direction I’d like to be working towards. Having a bigger picture in mind ensures having all the non-negotiables met and followed through and it also allows space for creativity and new passions to be pursued alongside.

Simple planning for your next 12 months

Step 1 – Daydream:

Think of a day in the near future that you can dedicate to have a ‘meeting’ with yourself. A meeting where you turn off all the external distractions and if possible forget the ‘list of shoulds’ at home or somewhere you won’t have access to it during the meeting. This meeting could be held at a cafe, a library, your studio or even on your comfy couch at home. The only pre-requisite is that you are able to focus entirely on the meeting and not attending the door. Divided focus and attention are not going to bring your best self to the table.

Agenda of the meeting is to simply daydream and write down everything that you wish to bring to life in the next 12 months. One question, where do you want to see yourself after the next 12 months?

These 12 months can start at any time of the year and doesn’t have to be at the start of a new year on January 1st. Dive in your wildest imaginations and bring back whatever you want to bring to life. I encourage you not to censor any possible dream due to whatever reason. It is time to dream. Try giving yourself permission to dream wild and big and remember to write them all down. All of your crazy awesome ideas down on paper. I am an old-fashioned learner in this aspect, I tend to use my sketchbook to visualize and verbalize everything that I have in my imagination. If you are a visual learner like myself, feel free to pen them down in whatever way they make the most sense to you.

Step 2 – Rationalize:

Once you have a list of your wildest dreams and you are sure that you’ve all got them down now it is time to sit down with them. Let them sink in. It is time to go through them once with your reality check glasses on and while you are at it, remove the ones you think you can’t or won’t work on; can’t because of various individual reasons (lack of finances, lack of motivation, family time constraints and so on..) and won’t because you are not feeling that passionate about them. Try asking yourself, which of these dreams and ideas am I willing to commit to bringing to life over the course of the next 12 months? 

By the end of this step, you will have a rather shorter list of ideas and dreams that you will feel super excited to make happen over the course of the next 12 months.

Step 3 – Break them down:

It is now time to break each one of them down in small steps, as many steps as you can. As an example, let’s say you want to have a website, a blog, all your portfolio in one place and your art shop ready to be launched by the end of the next 12 months.

Let’s break it down.

Thinking and finalizing a domain name that you want to have
Buying that finalized domain name
Researching a web-hosting and buying one that serves the purpose for you
Finding a web-designer to design your website in the allocated budget and whose work speaks to you
Getting your logo done by a graphic designer
Getting your portfolio photographed by a professional photographer
Scanning all of your portfolio to be placed under the portfolio section
Selecting the artworks and photographs to display under the art shop section
Coming up with a content plan for the blog
Writing a few blog posts so when you finally launch the website, the blog section doesn’t feel that empty
Writing your story and your about page

I have tried to break it down in smaller steps to give you a better idea and it can still be broken down further into ever more smaller action steps.

Step 4 – Bigger picture scheduling:

Next step would be developing an understanding of the bigger picture and what it looks like for you. Get yourself a wall calendar if that works better for you or just simply use google calendar. A wise thing to do before looking at the next 12 months calendar and marking deadlines for the projects would be to fill the calendar with your non-negotiables first; a friends wedding, family trip or holiday and birthdays. Things that can’t be missed, delayed or postponed. Once you have them all in place on your calendar start reverse engineering your dreams and ideas from step 2. Start from the end. After you have marked the deadline for that project work backward and place all the small steps from step 3.

From the example above, let’s say, you need to (or want to) have your website ready by the end of November 2019. Let’s say November 22nd, 2019 is the deadline, you will start placing all the broken down steps backward from that date to the present day. Make sure that you are not setting yourself up for failure by putting too much on your to-do list for the week. In my opinion, having 3 major goals for the week is more than enough. I have figured that it works better for me when I work on the to-do list on a more weekly basis instead of day to day basis. Having a weekly to-do list allows me to have time and space for creativity and spontaneity and I still get my weekly goals done and not end up feeling like a failure. I encourage you to figure out what works the best for you. Maybe more structure and day to day routine works better for you. If you don’t have an idea, I suggest you start trying both of the ways one by one and see which one served you the best. Maybe you’ll end up finding a third better way of doing it for yourself.

Day to day scheduling doesn’t work very well for me. I have experienced to not feel like doing that very thing that I have scheduled to not do at all. I like to have space and time to figure out what is it that I feel like doing that very day. That is why my suggestion is to figure out what works the best for you. I recognize myself with the rebel tendency as described by Gretchen Rubin in her book, ‘Four tendencies’. Try taking this simple quiz by her and figure out which tendency you have and how you can make the most out of your time.

Above all, I hope this simple way of planning helps you in making your creative dreams and ideas come true. I’d love to hear, how do you plan your 12 months in advance and what works the best for you?




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  • Loved the ideas.
    I have made a general overview of the things I want to do this year and I plan each month too about the tasks to get accomplished.
    This year started on a fine note, I had set my plans but then got ill and still havent recovered totally so some goals are suffering and some are fine.

    • Oh, I hope you feel better soon. That’s the thing with life. Sometimes it throws a curve ball at you but I would say don’t let that become a stick to beat yourself with. It is okay if you catch that wagon a little later than you had previously anticipated and rather feel grateful that you still got to do some 🙂 As they say, done is better than perfect. Sending good vibes your way. x

  • Great ideas! I especially love the daydreaming process.. it’s so often overlooked and people will always tell you to visualize your goals first without letting your mind wander too much.

    • I feel that daydreaming and creating some space brings up a ton of great ideas and an opportunity to hear ourselves. A tiny hint of hope in terms of what we want, what we need and seeing it could be possible brings a flow of energy that we need to keep moving forward and not give up on our dreams and hopes. Thank you for having a read, Dee.