How To Plan For An Amazing New Year In 5 Simple Steps

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is exploring the possibility that awaits us.

It’s a fresh start.

It’s a new beginning.

And it’s filled with opportunity.

But not everyone thinks this way.

Many of us resist reflecting on our past.

Or we avoid setting goals for the year to come.

And this is often because we don’t see the point.

We’ve never stuck to our goals before.

So why even try?

Well today I’m excited to answer just that.

In episode 73 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast, we discuss why planning for the new year is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.

And then we dive into the exact step-by-step of how to do it.

So if you’re ready to create an amazing year ahead, be sure to listen to episode 73 of the I’m Busy Being Awesome podcast now. 

You can listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:

Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.

Listen To The Podcast Here!

In This Episode, You Will Discover… 

  •  The importance of thinking big as you plan out the new year
  •  The power (and science) behind visualization
  •  My step-by-step process for mapping out an incredible year ahead

Links From The Podcast

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Episode #73: How To Plan For An Amazing New Year In 5 Simple Steps (Transcript) 

Hey everybody. Thanks for tuning in today. What’s happening in your neck of the woods? How is your December unfolding? I’ve heard some awesome feedback from people this past week in response to last week’s podcast all about looking back on 2020 to find the lessons you’ve learned and the experiences you’ve had that helped get you to where you are today. It has been so fun hearing from everybody. And I am so excited to close the loop today with part two of this podcast as we look forward to the year ahead and think about where we want to be one year from now.

New Year’s Goal Training

Now before we dive into the episode, I want to remind you about the free training that I am teaching on December 29th at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. And this training ties in very nicely with the questions and concepts that we’re exploring in both last week’s episode and this week’s episode, because I’m teaching into my favorite tactical strategies to actually follow through on your goal no matter what. 

So if you are a person who struggles to stick with your goals or your New Year’s resolutions past the first couple of weeks in January. Or if you don’t even set goals anymore because you have a long history of not following through, make sure you get your name on this list. 

Head to and reserve your spot. And if you can’t make it live, no sweat. As usual, I will send out a replay for a limited time to those who signed up. So again, go to Add your name to the list. And you will learn my best tools and strategies to maintain your motivation and commitment to your goals in the new year. And as always, for those of you busy awesome rock stars who show up to the training live, I will have a workbook waiting just for you to take these tools and concepts even deeper. So don’t miss it.

Recap Episode 72

As a quick recap from last week, we spent some time exploring the power of looking back over our past year. We talked about why this reflection is so important in helping propel us confidently into the new year. We talked about how to stop arguing with reality and stop repeating the stories of what we think “should” have happened or “shouldn’t” have happened in our lives. 

And we explored ways to have your own back and embrace knowing that you showed up this past year as the best version of yourself with the resources you had. We also talked about how you can look back on the year and allow the negative emotions of sadness or loss to be there – the clean pain to be there – while letting go of feelings of regret and judgment over what your brain thinks “should” have happened. Because it’s that dirty pain that feels especially painful and keeps us stuck. 

But when we take time to acknowledge the challenges of 2020 and recognize how they truly changed us and helped us learn and grow and become the version of ourselves today we have a different perspective. Once we recognize the resilience and strength that we developed over this past year, we have a much easier time entering the new year ahead filled with joy and possibility. So if you haven’t done this past-focus work yet, I highly recommend setting aside some time to consider the prompts in episode 72. 

You can absolutely listen to it after this episode. You don’t have to do them in order. But I do encourage you to make time for the questions I offer in both of these episodes. You will feel so much more clarity and confidence as you think about the opportunities waiting for you in the year to come.

Where You’re Going This Year

So today we are moving forward. We are going to take inventory of where we are now and where we want to go in the year ahead. Because in addition to gaining clarity and confidence, creating space in our mind to imagine the possibility in front of us and actually map out a plan helps prevent us from living a life on default. You know what I’m talking about, right? 

I know that when I don’t take the time to plan out my long-term goals or think about my priorities, attend it to live the effect of everything else around me. I am in reaction mode simply responding to things that pop up throughout the days and the weeks without being intentional about the things I’m doing. And I basically put out fires rather than creating and building and developing something new.

If you can relate to that, then this episode is definitely for you.

Don’t Skip This

So here’s the deal. I know the temptation to skip the suggestion of reflection. I know how easy it is to think to yourself, I’ll totally do that later. Or “I’ll just consider the ideas on podcast as I’m listening and that will be enough.” 

But as we know, later never comes. And while thinking about the concepts while listening to the podcast is a great start, you will see a much bigger return on your efforts if you actually sit down and spend some time journaling your responses.

Now I also know that some of you are thinking to yourself, “sure Paula. This all sounds great. But I just don’t have time for this.” and I want to offer in response, you don’t have time not to. This work is some of the most important you can do. This is your life we’re talking about. I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour this week than getting intentional about where you want to go over the next year, what your priorities are, and how you want to spend your valuable time. 

Think Big

All right. Let’s dive in. The first question I encourage you to explore as you think about the year ahead is one that I’ve mentioned on the podcast before. And it is “wouldn’t it be amazing if…?” So thinking about the year ahead, answer that prompt. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if this year I…?” And then let your imagination run wild. And throughout this process, don’t censor yourself. Don’t tell yourself, “that’s not realistic. That’s silly. That could never happen.” Just get everything down on paper.

And you might expand the question by getting more specific. “Wouldn’t it be amazing if at work I…”  Wouldn’t it be amazing if at home I…”  and “ wouldn’t it be amazing if I personally…”  In other words, you can get as specific as you want. But allow yourself to really explore the possibilities that come up for you.

So now that you have your first brainstorming session completed, take a look at it. What stands out to you? What would you want to pursue this year? And what sounds like the most fun? Identify those things that have you feeling super excited and keep them in mind as you explore this next question. 

One Year From Now

Where do you see yourself in one year from now? And again, really allow yourself to dream big here. Last year around this time I talked about the power of setting impossible goals. This was back on episode 21 of the podcast. So if you want a refresher on what the impossible goal is, make sure you go back and listen to it. It’s been a game-changer of an approach for me when it comes to setting and reaching major goals.

So for a quick reminder, The Impossible goal is a goal that – as the name suggests – feels absolutely impossible to you. It’s a goal that makes you feel a little bit uncomfortable. It is a goal that you might even feel a little self-conscious sharing with other people. It is a goal that completely stretches you out of your comfort zone. 

And the reason why setting an impossible goal is so fun is because you are already telling your brain that you know it’s impossible. So when you start going after this goal, and you keep trying and failing and learning and adjusting along the way, your brain won’t have any ammunition when it tells you – this is impossible. Because you can respond with: “I know. And we’re going to keep trying anyway because it’s super fun. Let’s see how far we can get with this impossible goal.”

Consider These Future-Self Questions

So as you will look ahead to December of 2021, where do you see yourself? What does your career look like? Are you in the same position? Are you working for yourself? Have you started a new job? How much money are you making?

Where do you live? Are you in the same house? The same state? Have you gotten married? Who do you live with? Who are you hanging out with? Are you traveling? How often do you take vacations? Now admittedly, I know that it might be strange to try and imagine some of these situations when we are still in the midst of covid-19, but I encourage you to explore. Allow yourself to think big visualize who you will be one year from now.

And there’s a handful of different reasons why I stress the importance of this exercise. Visualization is not just some woo-woo law of attraction practice, which – for the record – I also love. But for those of you who need a bit more evidence and hard facts, the process of visualization in attaining your goals and improving your abilities is also backed in science.


Let me start with the bigger picture stops, first. When we take time to practice visualization, it’s training our brain to prepare for these experiences that we anticipate coming into our life.  For example, you can help develop your courage toward something you’re nervous about. Maybe you’re worried about doing a Facebook live or applying to a job or putting yourself out there to reach this big goal. By visualizing the experience, you literally make it easier for your brain once you do it in real life. And this is because when you have visualized the process multiple times, once you actually do it, it feels much more familiar and doable.

In fact, the thing that really sold me is this. Research shows that if a person does something and another person visualizes doing that same thing, the same brain areas are activated in both people. In other words, if you are shooting baskets, and I am visualizing shooting baskets, our brains are activated in the same location. And if we keep doing the same thing – you shooting the baskets and I visualize it, our brain undergoes the same physical changes – neuroplasticity – to the same degree. That’s crazy talk. That’s amazing. Our brains are incredible. 

Plus, visualization helps you gather energy and strengthen your purpose and reason why you’re going after this goal in the first place. Even if you hit a bump along the way or you’re not seeing the results as quickly as you would like, by regularly reminding yourself of how you will feel, what you will think, and who you will impact, you’re reinforcing your purpose and increasing your energy and determination to keep following through until you reach that goal.

And from my personal experience, doing this practice regularly creates an unshakable commitment and resolve to follow through no matter what. 

All right. So you’ve allowed your brain to go to the best-case scenario by imagining wouldn’t it be amazing if XYZ. Then you got a little bit more specific, and you visualize where you see yourself one year from now in your life, in your career, in your relationships, in your community, Etc.

Start – Stop – Continue

Now that you have this idea in mind, it’s time to ask yourself these 3 simple yet powerful questions.  What do I need to start doing to help me reach that goal? What do I need to stop doing in order to reach that call? And what do I need to continue doing in order to reach the goal?

And go through each of these questions one by one. What do I need to start doing to help me reach this goal? If you want to get a book published by December of 2021, what do you need to start doing in order to make that happen? Do you need to establish a regular writing habit? Do you need to start finding potential editors in publishing houses? Or maybe you want to start researching self-publishing options? What do you need to start doing in order to follow through on this goal?

What do you need to stop doing? Can you think of anything that might pull you away from completing and publishing the book? Do you need to stop accepting freelance writing gigs so often? Do you need to stop going on social media so often? Maybe you need to stop procrastiworking the small stuff and finally sit down and write some words. 

And what do you need to keep doing? If you want to keep meeting with your writing partner every couple of weeks. Maybe you want to maintain your journaling habit because that is where you all can come up with a lot of your fresh ideas. So again, work through each of these questions. This will help you outline some clear action items to get you moving toward that future version of yourself.

Top 5 Priorities 

The last question that I highly recommend exploring is what are your top 5 priorities this year? Knowing your priorities is such a powerful and empowering thing to have at the front of your mind. When you know what your priorities are, it’s so much easier to know where you should put your focus. It is so much easier to know when to say yes and when to say no to various requests. 

And for all of my ADHD years and big idea people out there, it is so much easier to help us reign in our focus and remind ourselves is that even though we have a new brilliant idea that sounds super exciting, it is not one of our top five priorities in this moment. We can add it to our brilliant ideas list. We can pursue it next if we want to. But right now, we’ve decided ahead of time our top 5 priorities and what’s most important to us this year.


All right. I just gave you several big questions to consider, so let’s do a quick recap of what they are. First, start by allowing your brain to explore the possibility with the question “ wouldn’t it be amazing if…” and then fill in the blank. 

After that, explore the question where do I see myself one year from now? Visualize yourself in that place. Visualize what you’re doing, where you live, who you’re with, and the goals you’ve reached. Imagine how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about. Use the process of visualization to your advantage and start training your brain to show up as that future version of yourself.

Once you have that future version, then it’s time to ask yourself, “what do I want to start doing? What do I want to stop doing? And what do I want to continue doing in order to help me reach this version of myself one year from now?”

And then finally, to help reinforce these action items and to keep you laser-focused on your goals with your blinders up, answer the question “ what are my top 5 priorities for this year, and why?

Practice Constraint

Now, the last recommendation I want to offer to you as you think about your future self and setting a goal for yourself is to practice constraint and get super specific in what it is you’re going to achieve.

When I say practice constraint, I mean focus on one single goal. Don’t tell yourself that you are going to build a business from scratch, lose 50 lbs, plan the wedding of your dreams, and move to a new state. If you scatter your focus to all of those major goals, you will have a much harder time seeing measurable growth toward any one of them. And when we don’t see the progress, your brain will start thinking, “what the point? Nothing is working anyway.” Or alternatively, you will be juggling so many different things that you’ll find yourself constantly overwhelmed thinking, I have no idea what to do first. I can’t seem to get ahead anywhere. 

It’s kind of like big-picture multitasking. It’s multitasking on the macroscale. We know that single-tasking is much more efficient, right? When you single task, you aren’t switching from one thing to the next. You are not wasting energy in the transition times. And you’re keeping your task front-and-center so you can get things done as quickly and effectively as possible. 

Well, the same is true for your goal. I promise you. If you stay focused on just one goal, and you go all-in on it no matter what, you will blow your mind with how much you can achieve in one year.

Don’t Forget To Make Them Smart

And as you identify that goal of yours, make sure that it follows that smart approach. There’s a reason why everybody talks about smart goals. They WORK. And they keep you focused and moving forward. 

And as a quick refresher, a SMART goal is just an acronym and it stands for your goal being specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

So if you want to focus on your Wellness this year, don’t just say, I want to exercise more. Don’t just say I want to lose weight. Get super-specific. December 31st 2020 at 11:59 p.m., I will weigh exactly 150 lb.

Or by December 31st 2021 at 11:59 p.m., I will be able to run a half marathon in 2 hours and 30 minutes.

To all of my entrepreneurs and business owners, get super specific in your business goals.  perhaps you measure them by clients. By December 31st 2021 at 11:59 p.m. I will have served 100 different clients. 

Or by December 31st 2021 at 11:59 p.m. I will have profited X amount of money in my business.

Create Measurable Benchmarks

By getting really clear and specific, you create benchmarks for yourself. You are able to look at your goal and say yes, I reached it or no, I didn’t.  This is much harder when you simply set a goal for yourself to “be healthier” or create a “thriving business.”  we need to Define what healthier and thriving means. Because once you have that data, you can  Create a clear actionable plan that will get you from point A to point B.

And if you want some guidance in establishing your goal and if you want to learn how to maintain your commitment and really stick with it throughout the year, Make sure you join the training on Tuesday, December 29th. I am telling you, you do not want to miss this. After the training you will have everything you need to maintain that motivation and determination to make your future self proud. So again, you can go to Add your name to the list and save your spot.