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I am a terrible year planner. Then I read everything I could find about planning, spent thousands on workshops, and repeated my process over ten years. Now I'm in a bad mood.

I will teach you everything I know about annual planning. That will not be easy. This is intended for high flyers. I didn't hold anything back.

So why go through this process? It's a big time commitment. I invest four days in mine.

First, I can zoom out and see the bigger picture. You can find it hard to see the big picture when stuck in an endless loop of email and Zoom meetings.

I reached a crossroads last year. I was no longer excited about running affiliate marketing campaigns or creating courses. The feeling lasted for years. Last year I spent a lot of time dealing with this feeling.

And then I realized that I had to move away from this industry. I wanted to move on to projects that I could be obsessed Over.

Second, It helps you connect the dots. There was a lot of pain this year. None of our years went according to plan. What lessons can you learn so that you don't repeat the same mistakes again?

After all, It is infinitely more likely that you will get the results you want. I believe that this leads to a successful life hard things.

Talking about teamwork is easy. It is difficult to fire your employees because you find that they no longer fit in with a good culture.

Explaining your goals on Facebook is easy. It is difficult to ponder, analyze, and reverse engineer how you will achieve your goals.

This is my mantra for 2021 – "Do hard things.Everyone wants to take the path of least resistance. You won't face a lot of competition if you take the harder route.

Many people don't bother about planning the year because life is too unpredictable. Check out how 2020 went for everyone. I get it.

But here's the thing: Because of the planning discipline, you react better.

"You know the business plan won't survive its first encounters with reality," he says. “But the discipline of writing the plan forces you to think through some of the problems and be mentally comfortable in the room. Then you start to understand, when you press that button, it moves over here and so on. So this is the first step. "- Jeff Bezos

Life is like jazz. There is a score that you can follow closely, but you have permission to ripple the music and make it bolder.

I don't know what 2021 has in store for us. But I promise you that your year will be better if you invest the time in planning for the year.

You bring the energy – I'll give you my exact blueprint.

Some pointers before you begin

There are a few things that you should do before you start.

0.1 Be in the right environment

Don't do this in your home office. You're too close to the trenches. You need an environment that inspired She.

Check out how Muhammad Ali trained for his fights. His original training camp was in Miami. He had to leave Miami. Too distracting. He built a new training facility in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. It was called "Fighter & # 39; s Heaven".

It gave him the full concentration to train for his big fights.
You have to find your "fighter heaven".

Here is my formula:

  • Rent an Airbnb that is accessible by car. About an hour or two away is good. Don't deal with the stress of airports.
  • Be close to nature. I want you to open your door and see a forest, mountain or lake. That makes a difference.
  • Don't be too far from civilization. I still like to be 30 minutes away from a city. Going out for dinner every night is my reward.
  • No outside work. You are here for annual planning. No meetings. Didn't get any email. Be disciplined.

An example of the mood I want. Just make sure it has WIFI. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Here is my schedule for this year.

Sunday: Departure at 4 p.m. Get settled in the city.
Monday: Day 1 reflections. Go into town for dinner.
Tuesday: Day 2 planning. Go into town for dinner.
Wednesday: Go home at 11am.

I know it is tempting to cut your trip short in order to save money. However, they don't want to be interrupted while checking in and out.

0.2. Adaptation to a team

This guideline is for people doing their personal planning. However, you can easily adapt these to a team.

If you have a team, I recommend two separate annual plans.

For the corporate version, I recommend doing this in person with your employees. It can also be used as a facetime when you are remote.

(Note: This article is meant to be evergreen. If you're reading this in the middle of the pandemic, you can do it through Zoom.

Make your personal annual planning on the weekend afterwards. Don't do it one after the other.

I tried it once. It sucked. I had no energy after the company.

0.3. Sweep your digital dust

It is important for the Chinese to vacate their homes for the New Year. It symbolizes the desire to leave the past behind, to say goodbye to the past year and to welcome in the new year.

We're going to do a digital version of this. I want you to zero inbox everything.

  • Reply to any pending emails.
  • Go through your task manager and delete tasks.
  • Clean up your laptop. I love reformatting my laptop!

0.4. Do your homework

Annual planning can be mentally and emotionally stressful. Take some time to go through this article.

Is anything missing? You may not yet have a list of core values ​​or a life vision. That's okay. You can work on it now.

Make a checklist. Gather all of your financial information and documents in one place. Do everything smoothly for yourself.

You want most of your energy to go into this during the retreat Think.

This framework will be intimidating when you first do it. Give your best. Do not skip any sections. It gets easier with practice.

And don't feel the pressure to do all of this in a few days. It's okay if you're still working on it after January. Focus on progress, not perfection.

Day 1: review

Ray Dalio is the world's most successful hedge fund manager. His favorite principle is "Pain + reflection = progress.

He believes that every pain we go through in life contains a "gem". But we have to spend time thinking to uncover these gems.

We'll think about it all day. I'm going to give you some frameworks and questions to guide you.

1.1 What happened this year?

It's been a long year. Take a stroll back in time. Go through this month after month this year.

Write down all the major events that happened each month. It can be hard to remember. Search your calendar, email, and task manager to refresh your memory.


It's easy to do when you have a monthly review system in place.

1.2 Dive deep into the various departments

Living and working can be organized in departments. This way we can see in detail how we work in different areas.

Your company is making record profits. When you look at your company as a whole, you think that nothing is wrong. But analyze each department. You may find that the customer service department is missing.

It takes an average of five days for customers to receive a response. They leave bad reviews everywhere. Influencers are starting to toss your products in the trash. These are leading indicators. If you don't improve this department, it will affect the future of your entire company.

This also applies to life. I've seen a lot of people go all-in for years. Her wealth and career could be 10/10. But what if their health or relationship drops to 3?

I don't think anyone's life can really be "balanced". We're looking for "danger zones". We make sure that no areas of our life are weak enough to hold us back.

Let's look at the departments.

I categorize my personal life in these buckets:

  1. job
  2. Finances
  3. Fun / enjoyment
  4. Skills / learning
  5. health
  6. Relationships

You can get more detailed with each area.

health -> Mental health, exercise, nutrition

Relationships -> Family, significant other, friends, children

Finances -> budget, retirement, investing, taxes, robustness

Adjust according to your life.

A couple of things I'm looking for:

  1. Am I as balanced as I want it to be? I've spent too much time playing video games this year. I haven't spent enough time learning Spanish. When I see that, I can start thinking about how to customize my systems and environment over the next year.
  2. Are there areas in my life that underperform? I'm not doing so well in the friendship sub-category this year. The quarantine made it difficult, but I could have called more people. I will try to improve next year.
  3. Have I achieved what I wanted in these areas this year? Why or why not? Identify the obstacles on your way.
  4. Give yourself a score in each area. Place yourself under 10 points. Getting high scores in an area is a signal to keep doing what you are doing. Low rated? This is a signal that you will need to make some changes.
  5. What systems can I build? I didn't understand the importance of mental health in my 20s. So my solution is to create different systems to manage this area. Some of these include daily meditation, journaling, and finding therapy whenever I needed it.

Let's look at the departments in a company.

  1. product
  2. marketing
  3. Finances
  4. Operations

If you are a larger company, you can add departments like customer service, project management, etc.

I recommend keeping it simple. Too many departments mean that you lose focus on the essentials.

If you are doing an annual review with a team, each department head should produce a report. Let them own it.

Here is an example of finance:

  • Show the numbers. Profit and loss account, balance sheets, cash flow forecast. Create charts and graphs as needed.
  • Explain the numbers. Not everyone understands finances. Your job is to make it easy for the rest of us.
  • What happened this year "I don't think Charles, who spent $ 3,000 at Spearmint Rhino in Las Vegas, was the best use of our funds."
  • Recommendations for next year. “Our monthly software and subscription costs averaged $ 6,000 per month. Here's how we can bring it down to $ 4,000 a month. "

Analyzing a department is easy if you already have a framework such as Goal and key results.

Compare this year's results with the planned results. How were the key performance indicators aligned?

1.3 Think about the year

Now you have a clearer picture of what 2020 was like. Now is the time to understand what happened.

Here are a number of questions to help you think.

  • What were my big wins this year?
  • What were my losses this year?
  • What happened this year that surprised me?
  • What were the biggest lessons I've learned?
  • If I had a time machine and could go back to a year, what would I have done differently?


In this section, I'll go into think-time mode. You will see that the first answers you have will come easily. Then you are stuck for a few minutes. The next answers? There is the gold.

You have to be honest with yourself. Let's say you set a goal to lose 15 pounds this year and gained 15 pounds instead.

It's easy to blame quarantine. The gyms were closed and stress eating was easy. It's bullshit and we both know it.

If someone had a gun on their head you would have found a way to exercise. You could have run outside. But you didn't do it. Here you have to go deeper to understand what happened.

You cannot make improvements if you are not aware of it. If you have problems with self-awareness, it can be helpful to ask others for constructive feedback.

1.4 Assess your mission and core values

We need purpose in our life to feel fulfilled. We need a reason to wake up in the morning and collect a paycheck.

This is the part where I wonder if I am living up to my mission. Do I live by my values?

One of my core values ​​is "Push my comfort zone.“Everything I want in life comes from pushing. That encouraged me to move to Asia, speak publicly, and even start this blog.

I haven't done a great job improving my comfort zone this year. Some of my original plans were not possible due to the quarantine.

However, I hold myself accountable. I could have made adjustments quarterly or monthly. There are many ways to live that worth, even if I'm stuck at home.

That's it for day 1. It's time to relax. I go jogging in the area. Go to town for something to eat. And then I'll watch something on Netflix.

Go to bed early. Make sure you get enough rest for the next day.

Day 2: Planning for next year

We did a thorough analysis of 2020. You understand what happened this year.

Now is the time to look ahead.

2.1 Review your long-term goals

Before I start planning the year, I want to briefly refresh the bigger picture of my life. You need to know where you are going before you start planning your trip.


  • Review your life purpose
  • Review your core values
  • Review any 3 or 10 year goals you set

You also need to assess whether these long-term goals are still relevant to you.

At some point I wanted to write a book. Now? I have no interest in it. The desire is still there to teach and help people. But maybe a book isn't the best method for me.

Starting a podcast sounds funnier and more interesting to me than writing a book.

Don't be afraid to change your goals if they are no longer relevant to you. My goal is the same, I'm just going a different way to get there.

2.2 Write down your one year vision

Most people start by listing their goals. Before that there is a valuable step called Vision story.

You write down what your life should be like in a year's time.

I will write an imaginary example:

“I will quit my job. My affiliate marketing business will grow to be over six digits a year in profit. This freedom will enable me to travel the world. I will explore life in Asia, Eastern Europe and South America.

I will take my fitness more seriously. I'll drop to 185 pounds and 10% body fat. I do this through a combination of CrossFit and diet. To do my best, I'll be completely sober. I will not drink alcohol, smoke weed, or use drugs.

I'm single now and I'm fine to be single next year. However, I'll definitely date a little bit when I'm in different countries.

I don't have a large social circle that I'm in right now. I want to network with more partners and entrepreneurs next year. I will go to several conferences. "

Do you see how much easier it is to plan your future just by writing it in story format? If reading your story isn't enthusiastic about you, then you have to think bigger.

I suggest writing down the value of a full page. The more details you give, the better. You will be amazed by the details and emotions you bring to the story.

2.3 Prioritizing Your Results

The story was a brainstorming tool.

Chances are, there are many things you will want to accomplish this year. Unfortunately, your time, energy, and attention are limited.

I just bet three results for the whole year. 3 is easy to remember and keeps you focused.

Your average person is overly ambitious and sets a lot of results. The following happens after one year:

  • Benefit from affiliate marketing in the six-figure range – NOT REACHED
  • Spend at least a month on three different continents – NOT REACHED
  • Reach 185 pounds and 10% body fat – NOT REACHED
  • Read 20 books – – REACHED
  • Diary every day – NOT REACHED
  • Get a diving license – – REACHED

Note: Notice how specific and measurable each outcome is. It blames you.

Your resources are too distributed. Our brains usually focus on doing what is easiest. You got two of your results, but they are the least effective.

You have read 20 books and obtained a diving license this year. How much difference does that make to your life? Not much.

Instead, limit yourself to the most effective results.

  • Benefit from affiliate marketing in the six-digit range – REACHED
  • Spend at least a month on three different continents – NOT REACHED
  • Reach 185 pounds and 10% body fat – REACHED

Now imagine how different your life would be if you achieved this.

You know who else will put your results in 3s? Lululemon. Here is Lululemon's strategic growth plan.

The company's three priorities to drive revenue growth over the next five years are:

  • Product Innovation – The company expects its men's earnings to more than double by 2023. In addition, his plans include further expansion of the women and accessories business. There are plans to expand both existing and new product categories, with lines supporting yoga, running, and exercise. The company also plans to continue its product collaborations, expand its popular Office / Travel / Commute category and take advantage of new opportunities such as self-care.
  • Omni Guest Experiences – The company expects its digital revenues to more than double by 2023. The company will focus on delivering an integrated, cross-channel guest experience designed to inspire, provoke, and celebrate guests who lead healthy and mindful lifestyles across multiple experiences. B. Events, dynamic new business formats and the innovative membership program that fosters connections between guests.
  • Market Expansion – The company plans to quadruple its international sales by 2023. The company's recent success in its international markets shows that the welding life is cross-cultural and cross-geographical, and represents significant growth potential for the brand. Expansion throughout China as well as in the APAC and EMEA regions will be another focus of the company. The company also believes there is still significant growth potential in both the US and Canada and plans to leverage its agile business formats, digital experience and community connection.

What about the other goals?

Forget her. You want to stay laser-focused. But I know that not everyone thinks that way, so I'll give you a solution.

Break them down into projects.

One of my goals was to learn how to dance salsa in New York. I wanted to, but it wasn't important enough to be one of my three main results.

So I turned salsa dancing into a quarterly project. You can convert some of your goals into quarterly, monthly, or weekend projects.

2.4 Do a strategic gap analysis

Everyone can set goals. The hardest thing is to turn it into reality. Now is the time to think. How do you bridge the gap between now and your wish?

The easiest way to do this is to do a gap analysis.

Here is my version of it.

  1. Realize the bottom line.
  2. Understand where you are right now.
  3. Find out the obstacles on your way.
  4. Brainstorm solutions to the problem.
  5. See if you know anyone who achieved what you're trying to do.
  6. Design the machine and systems.
  7. Take action.
  8. Measure results.
  9. Reflect and revise.

I wrote an extensive article about it.

Read: How to do a gap analysis

Here are some other tools I use:

Thinking time:

Getting the right answers to your problems requires the right questions.

COVID-19 is affecting everything right now. When I wrote this article, a vaccine was approved and everyone is excited. What if there's a COVID-20 and it's worse than COVID-19? What can I do now to prepare my company for this opportunity?

How about a sales question?

My customers don't buy my product because of the perceived risk or uncertainty. What are these risks and how can I mitigate them?

You can't find good answers in minutes. However, if you have the discipline to answer these questions, you will know your company better.

Here is an article I wrote about Thinking Time. If you have tons of questions to think about, check out The Road Less Stupid.

SWOT analysis: This stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks. This gives a comprehensive overview of your company.

ICE. Analysis: You have already developed several project ideas. You can use the I.C.E. Frame to see which are the best options.

They rate each project for impact, trust and ease.

A hit: How much can this project affect your company?
Trust: How sure are you that you can do it?
Ease: How easy is it to implement?

Charles writes a book:

Impact: 6
Trust: 4
Ease: 3

Average = 4.33

Charles starts a podcast:

Impact: 9
Trust: 9
Ease: 8

Average = 8.67

This rating system lets me know that starting a podcast would be a better project for me than writing a book. It's a great way to find out WHAT to prioritize.

2.5 Critical Drivers and KPIs

Finished with your analysis? Now is the time to understand which activities are producing the results you want. These are known as critical drivers.

Desired result: Lose 15 pounds

Everyone tracks the weight. The problem? This is a lagging indicator.

We want to track the activities that lead to weight loss. Samantha wants to focus on exercise and diet.

Critical driver # 1: Go to OrangeTheory class three times a week.
Critical driver # 2: Eat 1500 calories a day.

She can make a simple table to keep track of. Is she doing the activities consistently? And if so, do they make them lose weight? If not, it has to adapt.

Look at your three results for the year.

What are the critical drivers and how do you plan to pursue them?

2.6 Plan your year

Next we will map your year in a table. I made a quick example.

You will not fill it out completely. You will fill things in as best you can. You will revisit this sheet quarterly and monthly.

Let's look at my December 2021. In a year.

I don't know what my work projects or personal projects will be. I know some of the anchor events.

It's my birthday and Christmas, we are planning a trip to Peru and I have to block a few days to make my annual plan for 2022.

This card will help you reverse engineer your projects. For example, let's say you are making a physical product. You want it to be ready for Black Friday.

Draw a short project timeline.

Quarter 1: Do customer research. Make a decision.
2nd quarter: Work with the manufacturers to finalize the design.
3rd quarter: Buffer time. A million things can go wrong.
4th quarter: Prepare for marketing.

People tend to underestimate how much effort a large project takes. Think how many people are late for an event. You can't even get this right!

Making a project map for the year can make your predictions more accurate.

Keep the momentum

We don't do all of this work to feel good about ourselves. We're here to get results. We have to implement and build different systems.

I don't do this section during my trip. I tend to devote more energy to thinking. This next section can be done over the next few weeks when you have more energy.

3.1 Set reminders

You need to remember your results every day.

Some ways I did it:

1. Create a desktop or mobile wallpaper. Hire a designer at Fiverr to make it look appealing.

2. Sticky notes. Write your results on sticky notes. Place one on the bottom of your monitor and another on your bathroom mirror.

3. Accountability partner. A few years ago I had the goal of participating in a BJJ tournament. My friend and I placed a $ 1,000 bet. If we didn't compete, the other person would get $ 1,000. I would not have attended if I hadn't had this pressure.

It works amazingly in the gym.

"We go to the gym Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you miss a workout, you owe the other person $ 20."

3.2 Quarterly, Monthly and Weekly Reviews

Your annual review is a blueprint. You need to set a regular schedule to make sure you are on the right track.

  • Quarterly report – It's similar to my annual review, but smaller. I do the same thing where I take two days off and spend it in nature.
  • Monthly review – Last Friday of the month. Takes about four hours.
  • Weekly overview – Every Sunday. It takes about an hour.

Think of it like a waterfall.

Take your annual plan and break it down into a 3 month plan.

3.3 Building technology to achieve your results

It's hard to keep track of everything. The easiest way for me is to establish habits, routines and systems in my life.

Let's look at that Relationships. Most people just say they want better relationships in their life and then leave it to chance.

When I want something, I set up a system for improvement.

Here are some of the systems in my relationships department:

  1. Me and my fiance meet every Friday night.
  2. I see my mother at least every two weeks.
  3. I have an hour on Sundays to talk to a friend.
  4. Before COVID-19 hit, I was hosting a board game night at my house for my friends every month.

I know this can seem too robotic to some people. I get it. But I've got way too much shit on my head.

Creating systems takes some of the strain off my mind.

Sometimes I do too hard with work and Brazilian Jiujitsu. Having a calendar event to see my mom is my insurance to make sure I do.

Let's look at the financial data:

My fiance reconciles our finances every Sunday with a program called YNAB.

I spend an hour every month updating our financial table. I also have a diary in which I list what happened and reflect on it.

We have an hour-long call with a personal finance coach every month. He blames me and helps me not to make stupid decisions.

Everything in your life can be systematized.

The plan is useless, but planning is essential

I'm pretty sure my love for planning and strategy came from playing Stars ship as a child.

I've learned the value of prioritization. I couldn't have a strong military or a booming economy for the first few minutes. I was constrained by my minerals and my gas. I had to choose which was more important. Most people plan goals as if they have unlimited resources. Too many desires mean that nothing can be achieved.

I learned to analyze and reflect on my own games. Most people just play over and over again. It is fun. But you are only turning your bad habits into muscle memory. We do not have unlimited life in the game of life. So if we think about it, we can get more juice out of the lemons.

And finally, thinking ahead prepared me better. I was a Terran. I loved investing in my economy early on so I could attack in the middle of the game. But I knew that I would always be prone to early attack. So I was careful to keep an eye out on the enemy. I would build a bunker if I knew they were preparing for an "onslaught".

Now I often think about what if?

  • What if i die? I have already prepared a trust and will do it. My family is looked after and doesn't have to suffer in probate.
  • What if someone hacks into my computers and servers? I have 2FA on everything. Everything is backed up automatically.
  • What if another pandemic happens? We bought a freezer in the garage. The freezer is full and our pantry is full. We have additional masks.

All of this makes me more robust.

I don't know what to expect in 2021, but putting that time into planning will make you more resilient.

Please rate this article – it helps me know what to write!


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