7 Steps for Planning the Year Ahead – a Roadmap

How to create a flexible and sustainable plan that sets you up for success

It doesn’t matter at what time of year we do this, but with the New Year right around the corner, it makes it an easy point in time to plan for the months ahead. But New Year’s resolutions rarely stick, because they often are unrealistic and inflexible. Instead, let’s plan in a more sustainable way!
Chances are you’re in the off-season of your training. But even if you’re not, that’s ok. This plan does not focus on your specific training for the year – that’ll come in one of our upcoming articles. For now, let’s focus on the overall mindset for the year. We’ll create a roadmap for the year that will keep you company, no matter where your journey will take you this year.

Step 1: Looking back, the good

Make a list of all the things that went well this year. This does not mean only sports accomplishments. Add relationships that have grown stronger, work goals, patterns you’ve let go of, new habits you’ve added. This may seem like a quick list, but give yourself some time to sit with this. Some new habits may have felt simply to add and keep, so they may not even be on your radar yet. Look for those.

Step 2: Looking back, the bad

Just like we all have habits that we’re proud of, wether they’re new, or have gotten stronger, more consistent, there are most likely some patterns that may have started or strengthened that may not be as helpful. It’s time to list them here. Also add relationships that may have gotten more challenging and any other things in your life, projects, etc, that take up more energy than they used to. Then add things that went flat-out awry.

Step 3: Lessons learned

Now that we’ve looked at what went well and what didn’t, let’s look at lessons that came from these things. Work through each item and add at at least one thing you learned from it. Yes, every single one of them. Some lessons will be more profound than others, but either way, every thing we experience is something we can draw information from.

Step 4: Evaluating those lessons

Are there things that stick out to you? Maybe a lesson learned multiple times? Or a lesson that’s really important to you? Make a star next to the ones that speak to you.

Step 5: Applying these lessons

Here’s where we get into the application. Look at the lessons in Step 4 and now make a plan for how you’re going to actively use them for the next year. Did you learn that setting a specific boundary would have been helpful this past year? Great. How will you set it this year? Did you learn that there’s an activity that really made you feel joyful? Excellent! How will you incorporate it regularly this year? Was there a specific moment where you felt especially self-confident? Fantastic. Make a plan for doing more of exactly that again in the future. Exact counts of when and how much are not necessary at this point. We want to keep the focus on change, not perfection. 
This is now your list of intentions to come back to throughout the year. Underneath each intention, leave a bit of space for the next few steps.

Step 6: Roadblocks are part of the game

Of course the best laid plans come with challenges, because life happens. The more we accept that there will be roadblocks, the easier it will be to deal with them when we’re standing in front of one. Make a list of exactly those roadblocks for each intention. Be realistic about fears, commitment, motivation etc.

Step 7: Planning for Roadblocks

Now that we know what most likely will try to stand in the way, we can create solutions prior to actually getting the roadblock. For example: your goal is to add more of an activity that brings you joy but the roadblock is available time. Think about ways to either find time by rearranging your schedule or by letting go of something that doesn’t bring you as much joy and isn’t vital for your day, such as social media scrolling.
Notice how in this process we are not looking at having to commit to exact amounts for what you are looking to do this coming year. As said earlier, we are not looking for perfection, but rather, change. Over the year, these new habits you are creating will evolve, just like any other part of your training, you will learn about yourself and you may even change some of the intentions along the way. Keep coming back to this list of intentions on a monthly basis and see if it all still applies. Roadblocks will change too, so keep an eye out for them!

I’ve also create a TrainingPeaks training plan to accompany you for the first month, including going through these steps AND then following through, with tips, tricks and other fun exercises. To check out the plan, click here!

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Something for you to try...

The first step is to find a piece and paper. Write it all down. Thinking about these items is a great start, but for it all to really sink in and stick, writing down is a must!
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