The Second Thing You Should Do in 2012

Item no. 81 on my Bucket List...

On Monday, I blogged about taking time out to reflect on the year gone past, and to start 2012 by asking the right questions. Today, I will share with you the second thing I think you should do as you launch into the new year:

Make a plan.

That’s it. Simple. Have a plan, and start working the plan. Of course, there are many ways to go about doing this, but here is my own simple 3-step process:

1) Start by creating a “Life Plan”

I first learnt about life planning many years ago from Stephen Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and as I have used the process in some shape or form ever since, it has made all the difference.

So, why do you need a life plan? Three reasons:

  1. It will give you clarity about where your life is headed.
  2. It will keep you in balance when things get crazy.
  3. It will give you peace of mind, knowing you are are addressing those aspects of your life that matter most.

Sadly however, very few people I’ve met have a plan for their life. They plan their career, their wedding, even their holidays. But it never occurs to them to plan their life.

As Michael Hyatt writes, “Most are passive spectators, watching their lives unfold, one day at a time. They are reactive rather than proactive. I believe that this is why so many people end up discouraged, disillusioned, and wondering what went wrong. They arrived at the wrong destination.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. You can live your life on purpose by creating your own personal life plan. If you have no idea what a life plan is, or where to start, check out these links:

Creating a Personal Life Plan & 7 Reasons Why You Need A Written Life Plan

2) Write Your Bucket List

When I was in Grade 8, my Life-Skills teacher told the class to write a list of 101 Things To Do Before You Die, and that’s exactly what I did. Today, 17 years later (yikes!), I still have that original list. If you’re interested check it out here.

To date I have completed 56 of the 101 items on my bucket list, which has been no easy feat.

Over the years this list has stopped me from becoming passive, apathetic or lazy. It has inspired me to take risks, step out of my comfort zone, and pursue adventures and challenges I could have easily made excuses for. Not only that, but is has been a whole lot of fun! Sometimes I think we take ourselves and life  too seriously, and having a few big-hairy-audacious-goals in front of you forces you to let loose and live a little.

So, what’s on your bucket list? And what are you waiting for?

3) Write Down Your Annual Goals

The last step is to look at the year ahead and, with your Life Plan and your Bucket List in hand, to write down a short list of goals, wishes, and dreams for 2012. Don’t overshoot – everything on the list must be achievable within the year – but also be bold and don’t sell yourself short.

My annual goals list usually has between 15 and 25 goals on it, and I try to include a few Bucket List items in there every year. It includes financial goals, goals for my marriage and my relationships, goals for my health and fitness, work goals, fun goals, and goals for my spiritual growth.

Finally, make sure you display your Annual Goals List somewhere where you’re likely to see it everyday. Mine is stuck up on the inside of my cupboard, as a daily reminder to me.

While steps 1 and 2 do take some time (I suggest trying to get away for an entire day), it is well worth the effort. Once you have your Life Plan and Bucket List in place, it becomes a quick and easy process of reviewing them every year, and writing down your annual goals. 

Bottom line is this: I want to be better in January 2013 than I was January 2012. And to do this, I believe I need a plan. And so do you.

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34 Comments on “The Second Thing You Should Do in 2012

  1. Nice post. Plans are great as long as they are flexible. Do you review your plans mid-year so you can flex your goals as the year moves on? I also have a bucket list and it is very true that it can keep you doing something you might never get around to otherwise.

  2. I have never written down my bucket list, but I do try to leave myself open to all the amazing adventures life can provide. I’ve been on some pretty grand adventures but there’s certainly room for more. Maybe a plan would help….. enjoy always, T

  3. I am a very structured person with a very defined set of goals, yet I have never made a bucket list. For some reason I feel like the things people put on those lists are farfetched and unattainable, and my life goals are things that i MUST do and WILL get done.

    Sometimes I wish I set harder goals for myself, that I need to work towards. But I am so afraid of being let down. I get off by ticking things off lists, and would be discouraged when my bucket list did not show progress.

  4. I didn’t see a way to contact you other then leaving a comment here. I wanted to get your permission to post to my blog your “6 things to stop caring about today”. I’d like to share this with my readers and to also have it to reference for myself. Do I simply use the wordpress Press This button?

  5. I am so glad I found your blog. I am undergoing some sort of personal revelation this past week, and this was just what I needed to read! THANK YOU!

  6. Having a plan and being disciplined in your plan is so important to becoming better. I have made it a point to write out my short(This years) and long term(5-10 years) plans and goals.

    Really enjoyed the quotes and thoughts.

  7. Years ago I wrote a list of things I wanted to do. Even though I misplaced it, I was surprised years later when I found it that I had accomplished most of what was on that list. Sometimes just the act of writing it down somehow seeps into my subconscious. Today, I am going to write a bucket list and 2012 list. I am not promising I will remember where I put it but I bet having written it, I will get it done. Thanks for reminding me of the reasons to write a list.

  8. I have always written a yearly goal list in my personal journal every January, but I suppose I have never considered actually writing out my life plan although I should have. Bucket list — my new project! I am going to start writing one today! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Thank you for this, I am about to go on my retreat next week and so this came into my life at the right time!!!! I will set aside my two days to do my life plan…I tried to download the word document and it didn’t work. I have emailed a request for it to be emailed to me, but please let me know if there is something else I am supposed to do.

    Many thanks :-)

  10. I wish I had this knowledge 20 years ago, but then again I kinda don’t. I know my life has never been on any real plan, but if I didn’t make the choices and mistakes I would not be where I am today and most times I like where I am.
    Having a life plan is good, but don’t get caught up in it, most good things happen when you were not planning on it.

  11. Do you suggest making a life plan, or an annual plan? I feel that since we encounter so many obstacles, twists & turns in our every day life, that a complete life plan may be difficult to accomplish. Goals to reach annually may be easier to achieve. Thoughts?
    Lindsay
    http://weallrollalong.com

  12. Thanks for this… it was definitely on my radar this week! I’ll be including these ideas in my reflections. When I report on them, I’ll definitely link back to you as part of my inspiration!

  13. Fantastic post.

    Two months ago I realized I didn’t feel like I was moving forward with my life – so I did just like you instructed above and made a plan. Even though it isn’t super detailed, it keeps my eyes up and looking forward toward those goals. I have even already started achieving a few of them. Now that it’s 2012, I think I will revisit & revise to keep the momentum going. Thanks for the inspiration.

    +PS, love Bucket Lists! I have 4 already on my blog – its the best way I have found to list the activities I want to do – big & small – and to actually accomplish them.

  14. I like this post better than the first! Great takeaways! Thank you for writing…

  15. Pingback: Taking Care of Numero Uno « Bad News Banker

  16. Wonderful follow-up, and this post is nothing short of serendipity for me. My life’s experienced a dramatic shift the last few years, and I’ve had to go through some adjustments to pull it all together again. Committing to paper the bucket list I’ve had in my head is precisely what I need, and I thank you for nudging me in the right direction!

  17. Hi Tom, I don’t think it’s chance that I stumbled into your blog! I’m not spiritual but thtis was meant to be! I have just started a personal blog, trying to make sense of my (currently crazy) life and hope to use it to track & plan my future. Your ideas, questions and observations are truely inspiring and I will be calling back… thank you.

    • So glad you stumbled onto my blog, and I hope that some of these ideas will enable you to have a fantastic 2012!

  18. Thanks for the advice! It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day ongoings and lose track of long-term goals. This should be very helpful. Definitely going to do the Life Plan!

  19. What a fantastic blog page to have stumbled onto.

    I have just started our blog page so I am new to this.

    I thank you for the reminders. I also enjoyed Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Studied it at Uni. but still need to be reminded.

    Thank you

  20. Nice tips, I tend to be one of those who just floats along in life, I agree that a list can clarify will put this on the top of my ‘to do’ list. Thanks!

  21. Everytime I make a plan it just makes me feel that I am never going to achieve any of it… bad attitude, I know. I’m just scared to fail – I am a perfectionist, and the opposite of perfect achievement is perfect failure… which is easier to accomplish. Darn it.

  22. It’s so true, having a bucket list is so great. Definately makes me look for new and exciting opportunities. I’ve put mine on my blog on it’s own page. I still adjusting it and adding to it but it’s served me well so far! Also, I wrote up a post about my goals for the new year. It is so important to write down you goals and work to stick to them. Check out my lists and let me know what you think or if you know of ways I can check some things off. Thanks!

  23. Thank you for writing tom. I will be using your list with my family to be better in 2012. Blessings, Denise

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