Give Yourself a New Year's Planning Retreat

Give Yourself a New Year’s Planning Retreat

Give Yourself a New Year's Planning Retreat

Written by Erin Odom, Contributing Writer

Christmas may still be two days away, but it’s already time to be thinking about the new year. And I don’t mean New Year’s Eve celebrations (although I hope you have some fun ones planned!). I’m talking about making a concerted effort to plan and make goals for 2012.

I have found that when I make the time to sit down and spend a few hours on New Year’s Day (or very close to it) to plan out goals for the new year, my year goes much more smoothly than if I just take each day as it comes and fly by the seat of my pants. 

Now, we can never totally predict what  a new year will bring (like little did I know during my 2010 retreat that I would spend the majority of that year pregnant and my goals would change to reflect preparing for a natural birth!), but having a flexible, workable list of goals to keep me accountable and on track helps me immensely–especially when the unexpected happens. 

And I’ll be honest. Last year, I did not give myself a New Year’s planning retreat. I had a 2 1/2 year old and newborn, and I spent the majority of the year overwhelmed and without much direction. As a Christian, I feel these verses from Proverbs 29:18 ring true: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” For me, having a written “vision” for the new year is key.

Give Yourself a New Year's Planning Retreat

Image by alicja_sto

Where to Go?

For me, it takes getting out of the house. As long as I’m at home, I will be distracted by the needs of the house. Two years ago, I spent my retreat at Panera Bread. And I will probably go either there or a local coffee shop this year as well.

If you are able to leave your children with your husband or trusted family or friends, you could even take a mini vacation somewhere by yourself. If you live in a warm climate, sitting somewhere outside might be nice. Or, you may be a homebody and actually be able to think more clearly if you can just set aside a few hours at home–while your children are napping or are elsewhere with your husband or a friend.

Regardless, make (or buy) yourself a healthy treat and sip on a hot drink as you pray, dream, think and plan.

Give Yourself a New Year's Planning Retreat

Image by ba1969

What to Take?

As a Christian, taking my Bible is a must, as I seek the Lord for what my goals should be. I also plan to have a journal for jotting down notes, my laptop to type everything up once my notes are completed, and perhaps even my ipod to listen to some inspirational music.

If you have one, make sure to take along your homemaking binder. (And if you don’t have one, perhaps you can use some of your retreat time to put one together!) This year, I also plan on taking a printed out copy of Amy Andrew’s Tell Your Time eBook, as a big portion of my retreat will be working on time management.

Give Yourself a New Year's Planning Retreat

Image by teyoo

What to Plan?

My goals/planning range from the physical and mundane to the spiritual. Some of what I hope to conquer during this year’s retreat includes:

:: Focusing on spiritual growth:

  1. choosing a scripture as my theme verse for the new year
  2. making a list of spiritual goals, like number of verses to memorize

:: Fleshing out growth goals for my various roles:

  1. making a list of goals as a wife, like being better about ironing my hubby’s shirts (because it makes him feel special)
  2. making a list of goals as a mother, like leading my children in a daily devotional
  3. making a list of goals as a homemaker, like developing a better cleaning schedule
  4. making a list of goals for my health–and the health of my family, like sticking to a realistic exercise routine
  5. making a list of goals as a professional, like setting up a Word Press site for my blog and editing services

:: Developing steps to reach the aforementioned goals–including books to read that will help me grow

:: Writing out a mission/vision statement for the year

Giving yourself a New Year’s planning retreat can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make it. The goal isn’t to stress yourself out, but to give yourself time to rest and reflect and plan–so you can breathe a little easier the rest of the year.

Do you give yourself a New Year’s Planning Retreat? If so, how have you found it beneficial?

Top Image by medialab
Disclosure: Tell Your Time link is an affiliate link

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  1. Oh, Erin! This is wonderful. A yearly planning retreat has been on our calendar every year since 2008. Each year, we become more and more effective at setting realistic goals, and this year, we even managed to check in on those goals occasionally to see how we were doing. Having a homemaking binder with my goals in the front was so very helpful in keeping my goals at the forefront of my mind. I think having a mission statement this year was the icing on the cake. This gives a quick, clear vision of what I believe God has called me to, and I can quickly evaluate if the task that is before me falls in line with my mission or if it is something that needs to be set aside for later (of never). I love my yearly planning retreat. It will look different this year as I have an almost one year old who is still nursing (we usually get a cabin in the mountains for a night or two), but I will find a time (or spurts of time here or there) to make yearly planning a priority. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for the tips! This was a super good post to get someone thinking. 🙂

  2. This is a WONDERFUL idea! I usually just type out my new year goals on my computer but I really have never broken them down via categories, like you mentioned. Thus what happens? I hardly meet any of my goals. I am also going to work on a household binder this year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Yes, I’m planning to do something similar again this year. Not out, but at home since I’m one of those home-bodies. 🙂 I love the idea of breaking goals up by categories. It makes so much sense.

    But first I’m going to read The Resolution for Women, by the people who put out the movie Courageous. I’ve already been inspired by their book Courageous Living, and have put one of the quotes up on my blog.

    Off to get breakfast for the kids and then to plan the next term’s homeschooling!

  4. I’ve been doing an annual review in December for the past few years both for myself and for our family (with my husband). I check my plans quarterly during the year, though I think I may check in monthly in 2012 to really make sure I stay on track. I find as I’ve worked on my planning skills, I’ve done better and have done better at setting boundaries.

  5. Great plan! I usually do set up some goals (not resolutions) for each year, but I’ve never taken an intentional “retreat” to do so. I may just run over to my local coffee shop for a few hours on the 1st or 2nd and give it a try.

  6. This time of year I always try to reflect on the past year and think about what I can do differently in the new year. I love the idea of really sitting down and “Making a Plan” that will force me to officially set the goals that I’ve planned in my head and then I can refer to them during the year just in case I lose my way. Join the New Year!

  7. You got it Erin! These are great goals and so important for our overall spiritual, physical and mental health! Thank you for expressing these things so beautifully:) I hope you have a blessed Christmas!

  8. I never thought about being so intentional about thinking forward for the new year. Huh. Thanks for planting the thought- I like it!

  9. These are great suggestions. I plan to do my retreat late next week, even if it’s only a couple of hours. And Panera is my fave place to do stuff like that.

    I have a question. Do you tell others your goals, or do you keep them to yourself? I’m thinking about doing a blog post outlining my goals for the year. (There are a few more personal goals I would keep to myself.) Part of me would like the public accountability, and the other part of me doesn’t want everyone to know if I crash and burn. 🙂

  10. Thank you, Erin…this is great! I need this so badly~especially after the year we had. I have lost my way and need help to get refocused. I am going to use this to me plan 2012. Thanks for all your help! So, I’m thinking after your plannning retreat, we need to meet for a “mini-blogging” retreat over lunch. Or just some girl time. Glad we live so close!

  11. My husband and I are planning a three day at home planning retreat. We won’t do it till about the middle of January because that is when we could fit it into our schedule. But we will be having our six kids still living at home watched by their grandma and some good friends. We will have days for planning and three evenings for “mom and dad” time.

  12. Great tips and ideas. I love the verse you posted, it is so true.
    My husband worked out a small trip for me last year to stay with a friend for a few days. I did a lot of what you wrote about above. It was great. It’s not something that will happen yearly, but I usually try to get a few hours every 1-2 weeks to plan at Starbucks.

  13. I actually do something very similar to this on my birthday every year. I started when I was 16. I write down a review of the past year (major highs and lows), goals for the new year and review some of the old “birthday journal” entries that I’ve written in the past. It was fun to see this past year how anxious I was about finding a husband when I was 18, but also the concerted prayer I put into navigating my way through a world of sin to keep myself pure for him. What a blessing to be able to share that journey (outloud, I would never give anyone my journal :)) with him.

    My goal is to spend a whole day with the Lord reviewing, planning and praying. Worst case, it ends up being an hour (like when I was leading a youth group on a trip to Mexico and was the only fluent translator!), but that is better than nothing.

    I look forward to creating this tradition for my kids as well.

  14. Very wise advice. Another verse in Proverbs that I have been pondering lately is that we are to, “ponder our paths.” Which literally means to think things through BEFORE we do them.

  15. I don’t do a retreat, per se, but I do take some time to think things through. Dan Miller gets all his next-yr goal planning done b4 Thanksgiving so his holidays can be more focused on his family.

  16. love this. Taking an evening or an afternoon to get away and make some plans is one of my favorite things to do. thanks for the reminder & encouragement.

    “those who plan what is good find love & faithfulness.” (proverbs 14:22)

  17. Thanks for sharing this inspiration blog to us..I really inspire reading your post..It has a lot of good reminder..

  18. I don’t do a retreat but I think I might this year. I have several things I want to accomplish and I am list oriented so having it down on paper will certainly help keep me accountable to myself.

  19. Thank you for the inspiration to do this. I just spend about an hour with the Lord, a notebook and a pen and wrote out what the Lord showed me for 2012.
    Thanks again!


  20. YOu have inspired me! I do believe I’m going to try this on Sunday afternoon while everybody is napping. Great idea.

  21. I am enjoying my planning retreat right now. I love your blog, Erin. I learn so many things from you. And, don’t ever forget: I LOVE YOU, SALAD GIRL!!

  22. I’m just packing up my things at Starbucks after a few hours away. I can’t thank you enough for this idea. I am so excited for the coming year! You have been a great blessing.

  23. So once you’ve chosen your personal Scripture theme for the year, how do you pray it throughout the year? I’m out of ideas other than reading it daily and posting it in my office. I.e. What do you do with your Scripture theme?

  24. Hello I just found your blog from Smartter Each Day. I must tell you I have been reading your blog for almost an hour now. I love everything you have here. You are a very great Christian Role Model. I am your newest follower and I can not wait to see what happens in the new year for you. I will be taking a planning retreat as well. Thanks for the great idea.

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