[The following post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.]
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said it perfectly, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” In Part 1 of An Intentional Year series, we talked about choosing One Word for our year—a lens to look at the world, a tool for spiritual transformation. And in Part 2, we looked at setting goals that honor God. But if we truly want to be intentional about our year, we have to make a plan.
Yes, for many years I was a “wisher” not a doer. Now that doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything in the last 49 years of my life 😉 But there was no systematic plan. Because of that I wasn’t as productive as I could have been. So I’m sharing what I’ve been learning, and am now doing, so maybe you don’t have to waste as much time as I did.
And let me encourage you! No matter what season of life you are in, it is possible to live intentionally. It will look different for each of us, but you can make a plan for the life YOU are living.
1. Plan prayerfully.
If you have been following this series, you may have noticed a theme: Begin each step of the process with prayer. Maybe I’m emphasizing it because I forget so easily. One of my personal goals is to develop a deeper prayer life after all.
But l also bring it up because it is the crucial first step, middle step, and ending step. If we are intentional about the wrong things, things that glorify us and not God, then what good does it do? Yes, we may accomplish some things but will it be all that it could be? Will I burn out? Become frustrated? Give up?
And even worse, will those things draw me or others away from the love of Christ? Will they put the focus on me and not Him?
Commit your work to the LORD,
and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3)
So let’s begin in prayer. Will you join me in making this your prayer, too?
I commit my goals and my plans to you. You, the Blessed Controller of all things. May all I do glorify and honor your name. Give me your wisdom, teach me to number my days, to make them count. And help me to plan with open hands. Amen.
2. Think quarterly instead of annually.
This year I’m implementing The 12 Week Year. It has completely changed my approach to planning both my personal life and business.
Begin with long term aspirations, envisioning your life 3, 5, even 15 years from now. Then, set goals for this year. But don’t stop there.
You must change your mindset to see each 12 weeks as a year. You set goals and write tactics to help you reach those goals in a doable time frame. There is no way to adequately describe the process in a few paragraphs. I highly recommend the book, or visit The 12 Week Year website where you can sign up for a free mini-course.
3. Write out your NMW’s (No Matter Whats).
I learned this from a wonderful ministry, She Works HIS Way. These are the things that have to be done both weekly and daily. Identifying your NMWs helps you clarify your priorities. It helps you identify what needs to be done despite all the things that seem to so easily derail our days—the distractions, the urgent things that always come up, the spontaneous lunch dates—in other words, life.
And I want to give a little plug for She Works HIS Way (and no, I don’t get paid anything for saying this!). If you are a Christian woman in business, I want to encourage you to join their community! It has been invaluable. They offer Biblical community and business training, encouraging women to put God first, their family’s second, and their businesses third—while still striving for excellence 💛💛💛
4. Time block your ideal week.
This is another step in implementing The 12 Week Year. What would your ideal week look like? Block out times so you have a starting place. I color coded different areas of my life to do this.
Yes, you will need to be flexible because there are no ideal weeks, but at least you can aim for the best.
I’ve created a FREE printable for you to time block your week, along with over 20 other pages to help you with every step in this An Intentional Year series—for both you personally and your homeschool.
An Intentional Year
Get your FREE guide: An Intentional Year
5. Transfer your weekly and daily tasks to your planner.
I know many people keep everything on their phones and computers, but I will probably always be a paper-planner-kind-of-girl. What is important is to write out your plan. Because if you just try to remember what you have to do, it won’t happen. We all know that winging it only works with eyeliner (And that is if you are younger than me. Nobody wants to see eye wings on this middle-aged face!)
My friend Ana from They Call Me Blessed has created a beautiful planner. You can get it dated, undated, or both. And Ana is offering you a discount!
You can get 20% off all her courses and planners through January 15th at midnight. Use CULTIVATE20 at checkout. Simply click the picture to purchase yours 🙂
One of the things that I love about this planner: it isn’t bound (if you prefer, you can do that at a local office supply store!). By keeping it in a notebook, though, you can personalize it even more. Add what you need or leave something out. Customize your planning notebook for your life.
6. Find some accountability.
We are always better together. Find a like-minded friend or form a Facebook group. Meet in person, over the phone, or online. But know, all of us will be much more likely to stick to our plans when we encourage one another.
7. Build margin into your plan …
Because you need rest.
My elementary English teacher was obsessed with teaching us to keep our writing within the margins. There is some real wisdom for life there. We all need a little white-space in our lives. As Richard Swenson says in his book Margin, “We must have some room to breathe.”
But he wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea. God designed us, and he commanded that we rest. For our good.
So you can be flexible.
I believe God wants us to live intentionally. But I also believe He wants us to trust Him, to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. To have time to love one another.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the LORD establishes his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
Yes, be intentional. But hold your plans with open hands.
What’s the point?
By planning we make time for what matters. Have you noticed how busy we can get with busyness? But just like a budget tells your money where to go, a plan tells your time where to go.
So let’s be intentional with our year!
Did you miss a post in this series? Check out
An Intentional Year
Get your FREE guide: An Intentional Year
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
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