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Planning for 2021

by Jason about a month ago in advice

And why you have to do so.

Planning for 2021
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

If you are anything like me, your 2020 plans went up in smoke as they were consumed by the dumpster fire that was the year 2020. Between CoVid, social upheaval, and murder hornets, there isn’t a whole lot positive to be said about 2020.

Now that we have almost survived the year, we have learned one thing--how to plan when you can’t plan.

Who hasn’t heard that the most successful people use budgets to control their finances? We all have, of course. Many of us never quite get around to doing it because we know there will be something that comes at us in the middle of the year we never expected. So, if my finances will be up in the air anyway, why spend hours or days planning?

We will better understand our current situation and what we truly want from the future only if we plan and write that plan down.

Failing to plan is planning to fail--Atributed to Benjamin Franklin

This is true for finances and yearly goals.

Think about it. If you never sit down to think about and understand where your money goes, how can you improve or change your habits?

You can’t.

You also have no idea about what is really important to you in the here and now. When was the last time you looked over a bank or credit card statement? I suspect many blindly pay the minimum for months or years without ever looking at each charge line by line. If you haven’t checked lately, you are certainly spending money each and every month on subscriptions to magazines or papers or apps that you seldom, if ever, read or use.

Did you sign up for the auto-renewal function on that facial cream you were going to try? Check your bank statement or credit card bill. I bet you did, even if you didn’t realize it. You may have moved and stopped receiving the cream months or years ago, but the bill keeps coming, and you keep paying.

Such patterns don’t just happen with your finances. They happen with your life as well. You go to work at nine and get home at six. You flop down in your easy chair to eat, watch a few shows, and then you’re off to bed to start the cycle all over again.

You’ve wanted to get that garage reorganization project done, but you don’t seem to have the time. You really wanted to exercise more and get back out into nature, but you are already so busy.

But are you really?

What is it you really do when you get home at night? Is that mindless NetFlix flipping what you want to be doing? Does that relieve stress or cause more of it?

Stress is caused by a tension between what you have to do (or are currently doing as a matter of pattern) and what you want to do. Even if you are not conscious of being dissatisfied with your current actions, stress can result because you are not truly living the way you want.

And just because you wanted to learn to code last year doesn't mean you still want to today. For me, this can change weekly but more often quarterly. I may really be into hiking and off-roading this quarter. Next quarter, writing and language studies may be more on my desirable to-do list.

Regardless of how often your desires may change, you have to be regularly evaluating them and planning to take those desires and make them happen. So, even as we have so many unknowns facing us with CoVid and countless other social and environmental ills, I encourage you to investigate what you really want.

Make plans to work on those desires with the current situation and consider how this might change if restrictions are tightened or loosened. You will certainly have to make changes. However, having a plan will reduce the stress you feel today as you review this plan regularly and make changes as needed.

I invite you to follow my weekly series of how I am planning for 2021 here on Vocal. I will be reviewing the manual and electronic ways I lay out my plans and my process for review. If you have favorite apps or planning software or products, let us know in the comments.

Read next: The Deception of Instagram

Chief Medical Officer, Family Physician, blogger and podcaster at Educating others on the wilds of nature, medicine and leadership.

See all posts by Jason