There you are, on the brink of a new year. It’s a blank slate filled with possibilities. Yet something inside you hesitates and wonders how to actually move forward. Friend, I completely understand and sympathize with your wondering. But before you overthink things, let’s walk through how to create an intentional life, together. We’ll start at the beginning and take the guess work out of how to plan your year. These planning tips will help you stand firm on the promises of God and help you move forward in the days ahead.
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Benefits of planning your year
Have you ever felt so rushed and hurried through your days, and that you were actually missing the beauty in life? Me, too!
But then I realized I was just trying to survive one day to the next without much thought or planning. In order to live the intentional life I craved, I needed to stop flying by the seat of my pants.
It was then I discovered the value in planning my year and the results were so freeing!
As I found, one of the biggest benefits of having a yearly planning session is being prepared for what’s ahead. Then, you know in advance what tasks and events are on your calendar and are able to think through the details before hand.
As a result, you save time and money through being prepared. You’ll also alleviate stress and overwhelm because you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Another benefit of yearly planning is knowing the time and space you have to work through the goals God has called you to. Planning your year helps you know what you have room for and easily create a loose timeline for making it happen.
Other benefits of yearly planning include:
- Feeling confident in your next steps and knowing where you’re headed
- Being able to say ‘yes’ more often and to serve more (because there’s room in your life and calendar to do so)
- A happier family life (because the chaos is curbed and you’re less stressed!)
- Margin in your life to do what matters most to you
How to pray for your year
As a woman who longs to honor God with her habits, before you do anything, you need to pray.
Praying for your year will help you set your eyes on the Lord and keep you seeking His will for your life. Cultivating a rich prayer life will help you surrender your heart to the God and foster a deep relationship with your Heavenly Father.
As you start praying for your year, use these simple prayer prompts as a starting point.
- Lord, fill me with wisdom in the year ahead, especially in the area of ____…
- God, help me trust you and cling to your promises in all seasons of life…
- Father, reveal your plan for me and help me to follow you no matter where you lead…
- Lord, I lay my burden of _____ at your feet. Help me to let it go and to remember you’re in control…
- God, as this year begins, I feel _______…
- Father, give me strength to stand firm on your promises in tough moments and not to give in when hard times come my way…
- Lord, give me self-control and diligence when I’m surrounded by temptation…
- Help me to be a woman who honors you with my days, especially in the area of ____…
How to Plan Your Year So You Can Move Forward
Review and reflect on the past year
Before you can move forward, it’s essential to look back! Looking back over your past year may not seem necessary or worthwhile, but a lot can be learned from reflecting on the past.
Think and pray through the following journal prompts to help you take inventory on where you’ve been:
- What went well in each area of my life?
- What didn’t go well?
- What were my biggest blessings?
- How did God reveal Himself to me last year?
- What changes do I need to make to move forward?
With the answers to these questions in mind, identify your wins and review your accomplishments. Look for anything that needs to be changed and plan accordingly. Ask God to help you move forward and create new habits to help you reach your goals.
As you begin, remember, small habits= lasting change.
It’s impossible to change all. the. things. right now. Yet, it’s tempting to overwhelm yourself with drastic changes in all areas of your life, isn’t it? However, that’s not a way to create lasting habits or to cultivate true change.
Instead, choose the area of greatest need in your life and start small. Trust that God will help you get to where you need to be in His strength and His endurance over time.
Choose a life-management and planning system
I struggled with how to use a planner for many, many years. (That feels great to admit!)
As a Christian woman, I needed more than random calendar pages or checklists. I desperately needed a complete life-management system to help me identify where I was, a practical way to move forward, and planning pages to keep me on track.
That’s why I created the Abundant Life Planner to be more than just calendars and checklists.
It’s a complete life-management system that teaches you how to live on purpose with three simple steps: Pray, Plan, Do.
The Pray, Plan, Do model equips women to:
- Pray through each area of their life, seek the Lord for wisdom, and stay rooted in God’s promises all day long.
- Plan their next steps by reflecting on what’s working and what needs to be tweaked.
- Do their life with confidence using planning pages and tools to stay on track.
It’s a simple, but practical way for the woman of God to identify her obstacles and move forward with God’s help.
Create a God-centered vision for your life
Pray through and think through the following questions to develop a mission statement for your life.
- Where I feel God leading me this year? In 3 years? 5 years?
- What do you want your life to look like at the end of the year? In 3 years? 5 years?
- How do I want each area of my life to look: faith, family, home, health, routines and habits?
- Who do I want to be and what do I want others to say about me?
- What character traits do I want to be known for?
As you pray through these questions and reflect on where God is leading you, record your answers. Be sure to date them for future reference.
Then, write down phrases, words, Scriptures, and quotes that came to mind to help you summarize the God-centered vision you have for your life. Add pictures or decorations to create a simple vision board that helps you stay rooted in God’s vision throughout the year.
Pro tip: This will be a work in progress! It’s not something that’s a quick, one-time activity. As you continue to seek the Lord, don’t be surprised if this changes or if God gives you a new vision for your life.
Think through and plan your priorities
Planning your priorities will play a major role in you helping you move forward in life. Several questions to think though are:
- What matters to me most in my life? (List 4 key areas.)
- What do I hope to accomplish in those areas? (Be specific.)
- How can I make room for those in my life? (List practical ways.)
- What will I give up or sacrifice to focus on those priorities? (Identify realistic things.)
Once you’ve identified the answers to these questions, write your priorities on your calendar first before anything else.
To keep from getting overwhelmed, keep your list small, practical, and manageable.
Identify your goals
As a child of God, praying through your goals and seeking the Lord’s guidance matters. Start by praying through your goals and determining where God wants to go and do.
Then, create an action plan and practical steps to help you achieve the goal. It’s helpful to break each task into small, manageable steps. Then, each task should work together and build on one another.
As you start, choose when and how often you’ll review them so you can make sure you are staying on track. You may wish to review your goals no less than once a month.
My favorite resource for Christian goal setting is the Pray, Plan, Do Christian Goal Setting Planner. This resource will help you set and achieve your goals as a woman of God. It’s made profound impact on how I set goals, and I know it’ll do the same for you.
Add all major events to your calendar
Now it’s time to take control of your calendar! Take your planner and add in major events like birthdays, trips, pre-scheduled appointments, and so on.
Putting these on your calendar first will keep you from overbooking or from overscheduling yourself. You may want to consider color coding major events to help you stay organized.
Create a time to plan your month
In order to keep moving forward all year long, set aside time to intentionally plan each month in advance.
Make a monthly planning date each month with yourself where you:
- look at the upcoming events and think through what you’ll need for each event
- determine which action steps on your goals you’ll be taking
- opportunities to serve others and give back
I suggest setting this planning day around the middle of the month to give yourself time to make changes if necessary. Trying to plan for a month once it’s started can get overwhelming.
Plan intentional times for soul-care
When you start living with intention, it’s important to make time for soul care. While a strong spiritual life should be the cornerstone of your life, being emotionally, mentally, and physically strong should also be a priority.
Think through what you love to do and fills your cup. Then, make time to do those things regularly. Add it to your calendar and make it a priority, even when life is busy.
When you slow down and spend time on soul care, the ripple effect can be felt in every area of life.
Ready, set, plan!
Learning to plan your year can have simple, but profound, impact on your family.
Once you develop a routine and system that fits your lifestyle, it’s something you’ll do naturally.
Then, through faith and consistency, you’ll move forward and stop feeling stuck for good. You can do it!