Forget New Year’s resolutions, start forward planning

forward planning

Let’s not dwell on new year’s resolutions too much right now, let’s make January our month for forward planning. Making plans can be one of the healthiest things you can do, here’s why.

Believing that the key to happiness is giving up all our vices, setting ourselves outrageous goals and thinking we can turn our lives around in a matter of days, is not the most productive way to make life-changes. New Year’s resolutions can lead us into a false sense of reality as we put ourselves under pressure to achieve something. This can also lead to a negative outcome and feeling that we have failed when we don’t reach goals set whimsically or hurriedly. The key to succeeding at any change, no matter how big or small, is planning.

As my mother always says (as did the military at some point in time), the seven Ps are of vital importance – Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Basically, without planning and preparation we are setting ourselves up for a struggle, a weaker outcome, or even failure.

So, on this note, rather than making January your month of change and new directions how about taking some time to set out your goals, figure out a possible, feasible way to achieve them and allow yourself a moment to reflect and set your intentions rather than jumping in at the deep end.

There are some very helpful guidelines on making plans which actually aid us in making mindful choices, promote a healthy outlook and, in turn, a healthy mind.

How is planning good for you?

There are many positives to forward planning, not only having a clear outline of what you’ve decided to do and when but there are also health benefits involved!


Learning how to manage stress, not necessary rid ourselves of it (this can prove impossible) is essential and forward planning can really help us to do this. Actively setting out our intentions and allocating the time in which to realise them can really help us to feel less anxious in our daily tasks.


forward planning

Planning things out on paper, in an actual, physical diary is also good for our memories. Writing things down helps us to remember them as well as making sure we keep our brains active rather than relying on digital devices to remind us what we ought to be doing.


You are far more likely to actually go through with achieving your goals if you have spent time forward planning and have a plan in place. Not only this but you can use your time more effectively, and potentially manage to do more than you expected. Separating your long term goals from the short term ones is also beneficial to your planning system…we can incorporate them into our lives more easily if there is a time frame placed on each.


By keeping a written/digital (or both) plan, journal, mind map or however you systematically note down your intentions, we have created a log which we can refer to at any time. Being able to go back and track our thoughts, reactions and productivity means that we can see how well we have done, or where we can improve. This can help us to make better future plans as well as take note of our achievements and short-fallings.


By forward planning things out this January you may feel as though it is wasting time when you could be getting on with that which you wish to achieve, however taking the time to create a thorough, realistic plan will actually save you time in the long run. Diving into an idea blindly will result in a lot of unnecessary time-wasting. Knowing what you are doing, and when, is a huge time-saver.


Plans are never set in stone, they can, of course, be altered, adapted or completely scrapped. None of this indicates failure, only a change of plan! To actually create a plan in the first place is to initiate a mindful forward direction with an intention. This creation in itself can ground us and anchor us in the present, thus making our intentions more mindful and in the moment.


Practicing mindfulness, meditation and living in the present is not affected by the idea of planning ahead and looking forward to particular events or up-coming moments. Our own positive anticipation can be a positive thing which does not take away from our being present, but can serve to make us feel optimistic and excited for the future.

To be able to set out plans effectively there are many things to consider. First take a good long look at that which you feel is not serving you in your life, those things which are in your power to change. We can first take time to make an assessment or journal to outline what is important to us; this could be related to family, friends, social life, career, health and fitness, anything you value. Within this we can then analyse what we would like to alter and improve and in what way.

Your plan can involve short-term changes but you can also include longer term amendments for months, or even years into your future. Consider that age old question “where do you see yourself in 10 years?”. Now is the moment to take those ideas and work out baby steps in order to eventually achieve them. Take your goals, break them down into phases and turn these into manageable steps which you can work into your life and take with consistency. If we can reach each step without difficulty, and notice our advancement, then we can maintain our motivation to move on to the next.

During any new development there will be obstacles, so we must take time out to reflect and consider what may not be working and make the necessary alterations to continue. So long as we have a set structure that supports these changes in our lives we can really set about making them; having support from others during this change is also invaluable as it gives us an outlet to discuss, analyse and address the ins and outs of the task to keep us on the right track and make our plans stick.

Forward planning is a far more valuable way to be spending the beginning of a new year, setting our goals but first working out how we can reach them effectively and with minimal stress.

Happy forward planning!

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