Do you know these people? The ones that have their years planned out in advance? Everything is neatly identified on a calendar. Vacations are chosen, planned, and built around holidays. Birthdays and anniversaries are highlighted. Doctor’s appointments are noted. Major work commitments identified.

I am not one of these people.

The idea of planning a year intrigues me.

The idea of building my ideal year intrigues me even more.

Many of us have gone through the exercise of dreaming up our ideal day, considering how we work, dress, what we eat and what we do. It is a useful exercise for identifying our desires. In pointing out what’s working and what’s not working.  In giving us perspectives on ourselves that we hadn’t even considered.

 Why not apply the same principles to designing a year in our lives?

Years slip by with amazing speed. Too often, they are over before we have had chance to think about what we might to do or be.

Grab a piece of paper and jot down a heading for each month of the year. Your ideal year is before you. What would it look like?

  • Where would you live? In the same town? In the same apartment? Or would you move to a house in the French countryside?
  • Where would you work?  At the same job? For yourself? A different job?
  • If you were free to structure your work, when would you do it and for how long? Telecommuting? Contract work? Part-time? Full-time? Eight months out of the year? Three months of work and one month off? What would work best for you?
  • When would you take vacations and why? How long would they be? How much time do you need to feel fully rested and recharged?
  • Would your year include an educational component? Is there something you’d like to learn? A new skill? Or just something that has always fascinated you?
  • Would you like to spend time giving back to your community in some way? Like taking a month off to build houses for Habitat for Humanity? Or rescuing turtles?
  • Are there times of year that you have more energy than others? In the fall with that “start-of-school” feeling? In the New Year when spring is before you? If so, could you plan to tackle major projects or work during those times?
  • Are you affected by dreary winter landscapes? Should you plan to capture a bit of sunshine during those times? If so, how and where would you do that?
  • How important are holidays to you? Are there ways you want to honor or celebrate them? Establish new traditions or hold on to old ones?
  • Are there tasks or things that happen every year (or that should happen) that you don’t want to forget about?
  • Are there events, seminars, or retreats that you’d love to attend? Galleries and exhibits you want to visit but never plan for?
  • Are there seasonal things you always want to do but miss out on? Picking blackberries? Snowshoeing?

For some inspiration on what your year could look like, check out what Lea and Jonathan Woodward, Chris Guillebeau, or Tim Ferriss are up to.

 Have fun. Dream big. It’s your year.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Vanessa@Luxuria April 21, 2011 at

What a brilliant idea Andrea. I’m actually a little frightened to do the task, as I can just imagine how LONG/BIG each months goals would be. But you are so right, time passes so fast it’s frightening. I’m also a big fan of Lea Woodward, been following her since she first started out.


Andrea April 21, 2011 at

Thanks, Vanessa! Can’t you just see it? A whole year packed with fun and interesting things to do? Knowing you, I’m sure the year you would design would be totally amazing!


Rita April 21, 2011 at

What a cool list of questions–can’t wait to have some time to sit down and really reflect on them. I’ve learned there is something really important about thinking/planning/dreaming, even if those plans are never executed quite as you envisioned. My former teaching partner and I used to make elaborate plans before each unit started, and we inevitably changed them only a few days in. At first we bemoaned the “wasted” effort, but then we realized their value. “Let’s make some plans we can throw out” became a mantra of sorts.
Rita recently posted..Connecting the dots


Andrea April 22, 2011 at

Hi Rita … I love what you said. Just doing the planning opens the door for possibility to step in. Thank you!


Ronna April 21, 2011 at

To tell the truth, this whole idea/process makes me horribly nervous. I can feel the tension within: wanting to dream, plan, and hope while simultaneously saying “what if” or “you know better” or “are you serious?!?” Your questions (and the heart behind them) reminds me that what I want matters…that saying so matters even more…and than only be naming both will such every come to be.

Thank you, woman. Brilliant. Strong. Compelling. You.
Ronna recently posted..As close to God as our warm and wild breath


Andrea April 22, 2011 at

Nervous … that’s good, isn’t it? :)


Lea April 22, 2011 at

Oh this is like macro life planning – very fun stuff. I think Ronna hit the nail on the head – and it certainly plays out in our experiences so far – it’s not so much about whether your plans actually come to fruition but the very fact you’ve allowed yourself to want and even begin to consider you can have them. That’s the key, I believe.

Vanessa – hello, how nice to see you here :) I’d love to see your year plan too…


Andrea April 22, 2011 at

Hi Lea! What you have been able to do is absolutely amazing. I’ll never forget the first time I came across your site. Your way of thinking about life and how you do your work opened up possibilities for me. Thanks so much for being an inspiration to me and so many others!


Lea April 22, 2011 at

Oh sorry, Rita – you made that point too. Read from the bottom up!!


Justin | Mazzastick April 23, 2011 at


I had a similar conversation with my wife about this topic. I asked her how would she design her ideal life. How much would she travel, shop, get massages, give to charity etc. It’s a fun exercise and a great way to create the life that you desire.
Justin | Mazzastick recently posted..Blogging Questions


Andrea April 24, 2011 at

Thanks for sharing that Justin. It so important to explore what is important to you. How great that you are having these kinds of conversations with your spouse. Makes it even more exciting!


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