It’s time to set our sights on 2020.  2020. Let that sink in for a moment. Whether you think 2020 is the start of a new decade or the last year in a decade, you still need to make plans. (Yes, there are two different theories regarding whether it’s the beginning or end of the decade according to this NYTimes article.) But no matter what, in a few weeks, it will be 2020 and we should have a plan. And that why we’re going to look at how to plan goals for next year and beyond.

This post is updated from an original that was posted in December 2015.

While I know that 2020 is still a few weeks away, setting goals shouldn’t be done on a whim on New Year’s.  It’s not a resolution that is likely to be broken when you wake up the next day.  Setting goals takes planning and a little bit of weekly planning in December will set you on the right path in 2020.  You need to plot that course now so that you can drive in the right direction.

Over the next four weeks, we are going to plan 2020 in a way that will not only make sense but make it easier to follow and achieve.  We’ll also plan out five, three, and one-year goals and set up our January calendar. But first, we need to look at lifetime goals so that we know the direction to go.  

If you’re wondering why we need to look at lifetime goals when planning out next year, here’s why.  Lifetime goals can be general such as traveling more, volunteering, having a large family, or being healthy–they are directional but not specific. It’s in the planning of those five, three, and one-year goals where the specifics are created.

Please consider, though, that goal planning doesn’t mean your goals are unchangeable. Circumstances change. Be open to possibilities, to be willing to change your specific goals when you learn something new or meet someone new or travel somewhere new.  

What we are creating is a road map for your life, if you wish—it’s not set in concrete.  Sometimes taking a side road or a new path makes life more interesting, so do leave room for the unexpected in your planning.  

Because there are so many holiday-related things to do in December, we’re not just going to take one day or one full weekend and focus all of our energy on making plans. Instead, we’ll do this planning over the next four weeks. Below is a break down of what we will do.

  • Week One:  Look back at this past year and determine what worked, what didn’t and what direction we want to go in. Then we’ll take a look at our lifetime goals
  • Week Two: We’ll plan out our five-year goals and break them down into three and one-year goals.
  • Week Three:  Using a 2020 date book (whether online or one made of paper,) craft a timeline for those goals and then plan out January
  • Week Four:  Create a vision board to support those goals.

Looking at the Past to Create the Future

In order to look forward, first, we need to look back. Then we’ll look ahead into the distant future. In future weeks we’ll bring it back to creating those five, three, and one-year goals, but for today, we’re looking much further into the future than just five years.

Looking Back to Move Ahead

Before we start looking into the future, let’s take a look at the past. And in looking back, you can either just answer these questions one by one on a piece of paper, or you can journal them.

  • During this past year what were those things that you were proud of?
  • What are some of the things that went really well or worked for you?
  • Where or when did you find yourself in moments of flow where you were productive?
  • What do you want to do more of?
  • What are some of the things that didn’t work for you this year?
  • Where or when did you find yourself stuck and struggling to be productive?
  • What do you want to do less of?
  • Did you feel you were missing or lacking something? What was it?
  • At what times did you feel an overwhelming sense of love, abundance, grace, and gratitude?

Looking into the Future to Recreate Your Past

Now that you have a better idea about how 2019 went, it’s time to look ahead. Think about the end of your life. Maybe that sounds a little depressing, but it’s not. What you want to think about is what will you have accomplished by the end of your life.

  • What is/what your career? Was it just one career or did you have different careers that you accomplished in your lifetime?
  • What do your relationships look like? Spouse? No Spouse? Big or small family? More friends than family? More family than friends?
  • Where are you living? Has that changed through the years?
  • What else have you done? Travel? Hobbies? Volunteer work?
  • What will you be most proud of having done?
  • What would you regret NOT doing?

When you think about dying, there is an immediacy to what you need to do, especially when you’re over 50 as opposed to under 50.  I remember being in my 20’s and not thinking in those terms.  I was just working to get a paycheck to pay for the home or the next vacation.  Now and then, I would think about what I really wanted to do, but then I’d push it aside because it didn’t fit into my current lifestyle.  No one ever shared how to set goals with me until later in life.

Once you identify what you would regret not doing and what you want to accomplish, it’s time to work backward towards those goals.  And that’s what we’ll do next week. For now, all you need to do is think about what you would regret, what you would like to accomplish in your lifetime.

I know that was a lot of work, but it’s also the only thing that I want you to do this week. Next week, we’ll break these down into five, three, and one-year goals. But for now, you’re well on your way to learning how to plan goals for next year and beyond.