New Years Planning Session – How To Make This Your Best Year Yet And Feel Great Doing It

How do we as doctors (and entrepreneurs) make sure that we’re living the life we want but not hating the process of getting there or being disappointed at the end?!

Also, how do we make sure our year is not just about hustle and grinding your face off trying to reach arbitrary goals which are unfulfilling, but instead how can you focus on the feelings, the experiences, the life and habits you want to have in the following year?

Well, we plan for it.

You’ve probably heard a lot about New Years resolutions and planning sessions.  It’s something I’ve done for many years. Every year between Christmas and New Years my wife and I sit down to plan out what we want to be doing for the next year.

Planning has helped us achieve incredible things, but it’s not all it seems.

Having goals is better than not having them, however, what we overachievers often end up doing is setting a range of arbitrary goals that seem like a good idea to aim for. For example, pass an exam, make another million dollars, run a marathon, launch a new product, learn a language, buy a new car or house.

Then we hustle and grind to get there. We push ourselves and everyone around us to achieve these goals. When we get there and achieve the goals we’re greeted by that strange feeling of, “is that it?”

It feels good for a moment but the reality is not what we expected it to be. Perhaps you’ve even burnt yourself out trying to get there or the quality of life you’re living is terrible.

This is a common experience in a doctor’s journey throughout their career, as well as an entrepreneurs journey.

As doctors, we aim to get onto a training program, get through that program, become a specialist, get a specialist job and then relax and be happy.

When we achieve it, it’s not what we expected it to be.

You don’t feel the way you wanted and you’re not living the life you thought yours would be. On paper you have a great life!

But the experience of your life isn’t as good as you’d like it to be. At this point, all the wind can be taken out of our sails because we also realise that more goals are not the answer. More goals will only lead to more of this feeling of disappointment. At that point, burnout and depression can kick in and we hear a lot about this on the news.

For entrepreneurs the way it goes is we get started and hustle and grind and set big goals – make a million, two million a year or 250k a month. We put everything else aside for years, make sacrifices and then we get there and think, is this all there is? Is it worth working harder to make the extra few bucks for the price we’re going to have to pay in terms of our health and happiness.

Burnout and depression can kick in for entrepreneurs at that point too.

I went through this myself and battled with it for years. The usual response most people gave me was to just be grateful for what I had – which left me feeling guilty and even worse. Or they say to set more goals – but again, this is pointless because we already know that setting more goals will lead to more of the same.

After years of searching high and low for an answer, what I eventually realised was that…

I needed to shift what I was aiming for.

Rather than trying to hit bigger numbers, setting goals for the sake of it, or trying to grind and hustle more. Instead, I started looking at what kinds of feelings did I want to be experiencing? How do I want to feel? What kind of life do I want to lead? What kind of experiences do you want to have? What habits do you want to develop? What life do you want to lead? Who do you want to be helping?

Imagine living that life in the next year!

Of course, we need to hit some of the financial goals to get there but that’s not the aim of the process. The aim is to live that life, the make that impact, to feel those feelings and have those experiences that you really want and make your life worth living.

This is what we do with our private clients. They’re doctors who want to do things in a big and different way. They are usually fully qualified in their chosen field, such as specialists in medicine, surgery, general practitioners, paediatrician, obstetricians and they have a big vision for the life they want to be leading and the impact they want to have. However,  they struggle to get that out of their head, onto paper and make a plan to get there and actually make it happen. So we help that to do that.

So what I want to take you through today is the planning process that my wife and I go through, and that we take our private clients through.

That way your year is not just about hustle and grinding your face off to try to reach arbitrary goals which are unfulfilling, but instead, you can focus on the feeling, the experiences, the life and habits you want to have in the following year.

There are 3 steps to this process. We cover where you’ve been, where you want to go and making practical plans to get there.

Step 1 – Review the year that has been.

Doing this first step makes sure you don’t repeat the mistakes of last year (or multiple years) and you’re actually moving forward. Every year has it’s high points and it’s low points and we’re going to cover both because they each have valuable lessons within them.

So we begin with asking…

A – What were the highlights of the last year?

Big and small, write them all down.

For examples, one of my high points was being invited to go on Safari with Richard Branson at his private game reserve. As a result, we visited Africa for the first time, fell in love with Sarafi and got to spend time with and got to know Richard on a personal level.

Also, our daughter Ruby was 4 months old at the start of last year. So she went from rolling to crawling to taking her first steps, to running around. She also started to babble and say a few words.

We had a whole whiteboard full, and that was just my highlights. Mare had her own too. This gives you an insight into the things you really enjoyed so you can take them forward into next year.

Pick out the big and the little things. Write as much as you can.

B – What were the lessons from the last year?

Let’s reframe some of the low points by identifying the positive lessons that came out of them. That way we can be better as a result and move forward in a strong and powerful way.

To give you an example, for many years I was trying to reach big goals with the expectation that those external factors would make me happy – the car, the house, the family, the body – once I have those, then I’ll be happy. Then I got it all and didn’t feel the happiness I expected. In fact, I felt terrible!

Circumstances can impact happiness, but have you ever had times when everything in your life is going well – you’ve got all the stuff and you’re living the life you wanted but you feel like crap?

The lesson for me was that achieving all those things is great but the happiness comes from internal factors. There is a place within us where the happiness and satisfaction lives and I need to be able to tap into mine. Part of this for me was going to the beach every day, thinking particular things and getting myself into that place of happiness.

So write as many positive lessons from the last year as you can – big or small.

C – What are you willing to let go of?

These are things in your life that may have served you in the past and you’ve been holding onto them but now you know you need to let go. This can be people, things, circumstances, beliefs, habits etc.

For example, we were willing to let go of our office. For the last 2 years, we’ve been based out of our Zetland office while Mare was pregnant and Ruby was born. Before that, we would travel internationally 6 months of the year working from our laptops in places like the Croatian Islands, the south of France, Poland, London, the US, and many more. Our team also worked remotely thought this time.

However, now the office is not what we need and it’s not the life we want to be leading so we’re ready to let go of it.

What are these things for you? Write them all down.

And that’s step 1. At this point, we go for lunch because we’re done great work and we’re feeling pretty damn good.

One of the best things about this step is that you’re processing the year.  It feels good no matter what your year was like because you’re shedding the year, taking the positives and moving forward strong.

Step 2: What do you want for the next year.

Now we’re looking towards the next year and what we want. However, we’re not listing goals for the sake of it. We don’t want things like make a million dollars (for no reason other than it would be cool), learn 3 languages, lose 10 kilos – we don’t want goals for the sake of goals.

I spent many years doing this. I used to have a list of categories like health, relationship, finances, business, education, etc and tried to list goals in each category just to have goals in each one because I thought it would make my life good.

But as we were saying earlier, that just ends up being really unsatisfying. You bust your hump to get there but then you’re like, “is this it? I feel miserable, tired all the time. Yeah, I’ve reached these goals but I’m not enjoying life so what was the point of it?” So we want to move away from that.

Instead, ask yourself:

How do you want to feel this year? What feelings do you want to experience regularly?

What are the experiences you want to have?

What are the habits you want to develop?

What kind of lifestyle do you want to be living?

Who do you want to contribute to?

Do what I call a brain dump, which is where you write it all down and don’t censor yourself. There may even be things you don’t think you can achieve this year, write them all down.

Once you’re done, organise them into categories that work for you.

For me it ended up being grouped into the feelings I want to experience, the habits I wanted to develop, general experiences and work experiences I wanted to have. While Mare ended up categorising hers into two groups – personal and business. How you categories them isn’t important, I just find that it helps to start making plans.

Now that that’s done take a minute to reflect – how do you feel look at this list?

And that’s the second step.

Step 3 – What do we need to do to make this happen?

In this step, we’re going to go from vague goals to a specific plan with action steps.

Start by looking at your list of goals and ask,

What resources do we need to make this happen this year? Is it time, money, skills, knowledge, people? Not in a detailed way but general factors.

Then let’s get a bit more detailed – let’s qualify these things.

How much money do you need to achieve that? How much time? How many products do you need to sell or patients do you need to see? Who are the people who can help you?

You may be thinking, I don’t know how to make all this stuff happen?

Maybe you need to make an extra 150K this year but you’re in a fixed income job. Well, there are people who can show you how to do that.

Maybe you don’t know how to package your ideas into a product and get in out to the world. Well, there are people who can show you how to do that.

Maybe you want to feel good in your body, energetic and healthy. Again, there are people who can help you to do that.

No matter what it is, either you know what you do, you can figure it out or there’s someone who has done it before and can show you how. So find out who can help you with that.

Next put some down some time frames and specific milestones that need to be achieved.

You will end up with a broad year-long plan but the truth is that after 3 months the plan will change and evolve as you move forward and learn new things.  So next we create a detailed 90 day plan with all the tasks, deadlines, who’s going to help and how you’re going to make it happen, for the next 90 days only.

Then get started with it. As the 90 days come to an end reassess and create the next 90 day plan.

This is how my wife and I, our private clients, and people like Richard Branson achieve great things while loving the life they’re leading.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us here on our website or on any of our social media platform below.

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