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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Part #4 of 4 - Three steps to your new year, called the past, the present and the future

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

If you're just joining this series, you can catch up on the ones before here:

In the last two posts in this series, I covered how we should expect problems (and eat them for breakfast), how to choose a specific/non-specific type of goal, and how to plan from the heart.

In this post, I’ll take you through 3 areas to think about when planning for the new year.

I believe time is a most precious thing, and so we should be thoughtful about what we do with it. It’s all too easy to drift and let things slip away.

For me, setting intentions and goals is about making sure I use my time well each day. And you can’t do that without spending a little time consciously planning.

3 steps to your plan

I think a good annual plan covers the past, the present, and the future. I use these three basic areas to guide my review of the year.

Step 1: Consider the Past

What happened this year - the good, the bad, the ugly?

Typically, during this part, I usually review my goals. It’s good to see how things change over a year, and which ones got left behind or lost priority.

Consider it all. This part can be very practical, for example including:

  • Flicking through your photos.

  • Having a glance through your files.

  • Checking anything you created.

  • Having a peek at your calendar for the last 12 months

  • Checking on your finances.

If you use your calendar actively, glancing through it helps you to see where you were spending your time.

This is also a good point to tidy up files and folders, and remove things that are taking up space digitally.

Finally, making peace with the bad, and saying goodbye to the ugly parts is so important before trying to plan for the future.

Step 2: Consider The Present & Take Stock

Who am I now? Now that this year is over - has anything changed?

Many goal setting courses will only cover the past and the future. Over the years, I’ve found that considering your values while considering is very useful to building a plan and goals.

It’s so important to realign with what you believe in, and even any dreams you may have forgotten along the way. And to notice any recurring thought patterns and beliefs you might be tied to.

At this point, it’s also good to get a ‘current’ birds-eye perspective.

To help with this I also enjoy using the wheel of life: it is a great place to get a good visual sense of the different parts of your life, and how you feel they are going.

This is one I have used in recent months. Sometimes I change the names of the areas depending on what I want to highlight or view.

Shading in the wheel will show you clearly any areas that need a lot of attention.

Step 3: The Future

Where do I want to go next - and what do I need to change to get there?

Finally, this is the fun part: crafting a plan and choosing the areas to focus on in the months to come.

Part of the reason I love this section of planning is because it’s like you’re designing your personal development plan.

It’s also one of the most interesting parts of teaching and training for me: designing a learning plan for students, based on what I know of their current levels and crafting a plan for their future skills.

Most new goals or dreams somehow require learning a new skill.

If you want to level up and do different things, it’s going to involve some kind of learning, whether through a book, a course, or just finding a way to be closer to the type of people or career you want to move into.

So if you were your own teacher, looking at yourself as if you were a student, what would you think you need to teach yourself most urgently?

Using something like the wheel of life at this point is so helpful to showing you the areas you need to tend to the most.

And knowing whether you want to make specific or non-specific goals helps too.


In this post we’ve covered the three steps/areas to consider when planning your year ahead.

Over the years, I’ve found some courses I’ve done in the past leave out the middle part. That part is about considering who you are.

And it’s actually really important to make sure that your goals reflect your values, and who you are.

It took me years to find a nice flow with planning in December.

If you also find this interesting and want to read further, or enjoy doing your own planning, I’ve found the following resources helpful.


Though I don’t use one method strictly, these resources are just some who have influenced my own planning process:

Planning - Actionable Books/Workbooks

Pam Slim - Body of Work

Jenny Blake - Pivot

Michael Hyatt - Living Forward

Anne Wilson - The Wealth Chef

Planning - Philosophies

Darren Hardy - Compound Effect

Sean d’Souza - Chaos Planning

Stephen Covey - 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


James Clear - Atomic Habits & Annual Reviews

Jeff Sanders - 5am Miracle

Hal Elrod - The Miracle Morning


David Schwartz - The Magic of Thinking Big

Leila Jannah - Give Work

Carrie Green - She Means Business

Enjoy, and have a great December... and a happy new year! :)


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