I think we can all agree that 2016 has been quite the interesting adventure, and it’s time for it to come to a close.
With just a few weeks left in the year, now is the time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, break out the vision boards, and start setting goals for what we hope to achieve in the next twelve months. I actually love this time of year because it challenges me to dream bigger than big, but to also put those dreams into realistic perspective.
I rely heavily on having a planner to help me stay on task. This past year, however, I struggled to find one that I could commit to, which caused me to miss the mark on reaching some of my personal and business goals.
Enter the “Conquer Your Year” planner.
Image: Conquer Your Year (Penguin Random House)
Created by Emmy Award-winning media producer and author Natalie MacNeil, the Conquer Your Year planner is designed to help you take your very big ideas and translate them into specific tasks that will move you closer to achieving your goals on a quarterly basis.
Her Agenda connected with Natalie via email to learn more about the importance of Conquer Your Year, and how this tool can help grow our businesses and get more done.
Her Agenda: What’s one of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned in purposefully finding balanced synergy between your personal and professional goals?
Natalie MacNeil: I structure my year in quarterly sprints, as you’ll find inside the Conquer Your Year planner, and for every sprint there’s a section called “Balanced Ambition.” In addition to tackling one big business goal each quarter, I’ve learned that I need to make time for and set goals around my health, my relationships, adventure, and a new habit. I love what I do so much, and it’s easy to let my work consume my life if I’m not mindful about what I want to be doing outside of building my company.
I have also learned to trust the ebb and flow of my life and business, and push really hard when I need to but also feel when I’m pushing too hard and pull back. This is why I usually push toward achieving one major thing each quarter, and then I usually take a week off to recharge. I have found that 12 weeks of working at my maximum capacity is when I reach the point where I need to take a break. That keeps things feeling balanced for me. I also want to say that we all have to define balance for ourselves, and what works for me may not work for you and that’s okay.
Her Agenda: Life happens, and sometimes we get distracted as we’re looking to accomplish our goals. How can young women use “Conquer Your Year” to bounce back when they feel like they’re behind?
Natalie MacNeil: First, take a deep breath and honor where you are right now. You’re exactly where you need to be, and there are lessons you take away from every experience. In terms of bouncing back when you feel behind, this is why I love working in sprints, and why Conquer Your Year features four sprints in addition to having a weekly planner layout.
Instead of just deciding on some big goals for the year, and not actually laying the groundwork for achieving those goals, the sprints have you re-evaluating and resetting goals and milestones each quarter. If you get a bit behind, no problem. Simply reassess what’s most important for the next twelve weeks and dive in. The momentum you’ll build from achieving one or two big things each quarter is what allows you to get to the end of a year and be able to look back and say you did all the things you really wanted to do. Small, consistent steps are what lead to big results.
Her Agenda: How has “Conquer Your Year” and The Conquer Kit helped you in your goal planning and reflection? In any way, has it allowed you to gain more control of your schedule, and if so, do you feel as though you have more flexibility to do more of things that you want to do?
Natalie MacNeil: It has absolutely helped me stay on track by focusing on my top priorities. We have never in human history had as much information, and as many distractions, in our immediate orbit as we have now. I talk to so many people who feel overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious, unproductive, distracted, unfocused. The key is getting back to what matters most, and that’s what these books will guide you to do.
In these books, you’ll be focusing on the bigger picture things you want to achieve instead of always being stuck on what’s right in front of you. For example, that never ending to-do list or all the busy work that prevents you from being able to focus your energy on the bigger things that drive you closer to the ultimate vision you have for your life and your business. If you can stay focused on that bigger picture, it’s easier to say “no” to anything coming your way that just doesn’t fit with your big picture vision. Having that clarity is everything, and helps you create the space you need to conquer your boldest goals and most heartfelt dreams.