This is your reminder that letting go of the new year and being the person you are is well enough.
It’s a new year. It’s here and there’s no stopping it.
We’re allowed to hold aspirations for it, and we’re certainly allowed to have zero expectations for it.
I mean, nothing’s really been the same since the Before Times. Not only that, just because it’s a new year, it doesn’t mean you have to change everything—or anything—in your life, or your business.
This time of year, there’s a heap of things on social media—and the media in general—about picking your word of the year, creating your vision board, reflecting on the previous year, goal setting, getting ready for your best year yet, and so on and so forth, and this year is no different. Sure, those things can be and are wonderful tools, however I don’t think they’re the defining things they’re made out to be.
As a capacity advocate and time management specialist, I’m here to offer a different perspective on how to approach the new calendar year. Take my opinion with a grain of salt, because that’s what it is, an opinion. You need to do what works for you.
Letting go of the new year: unlearning and relearning
Thinking back while writing this chronicle, it’s really only in the last three years that I’ve really stepped back from the hullabaloo of new year planning. It’s taken a lot of unlearning (thanks, capitalism!) to get back to this point, but it hasn’t been, and still isn’t, easy.
I really like to practise what I preach, so I am finally in a place where I can fully embrace letting go of the new year, new me rhetoric.
I still plan at the calendar year’s end, but there’s no urgency, there’s no rules. Instead, I’ve adopted a really gentle planning practice, focusing on my time off over the summer.
Knowing I want to take a minimum of three or four consecutive weeks off over December and January, all my new year planning and implementation begins around late September.
I know, I know. September seems like overkill, and for a lot it probably is, but hear me out, okay?
End of year changes
For parents and carers of young people in Australia like me, December and January means roughly six weeks of no school. Not everyone has access to carers outside of home (i.e. grandparents, or holiday programs) so they have to adjust to caring for young people in times they would usually work. I know not everyone is in this position, but it is the reality for a large portion of small business owners, especially given one in three Australian small businesses are women-owned (Women’s Agenda, 2023).
Not only are parents and carers caring for young people, they’re trying to enjoy the summer season too. Catching up with friends and family; taking young folk here, there, and everywhere; seeking quality time once the young’uns are asleep, whether that’s quality time alone, with their significant other, or with friends. And of course there’s everyday life stuff too, household matters and such. Cram in business planning for the year ahead—plus any work they may still be doing—and it’s an overloaded mess.
An alternative time to plan
How often do people say they don’t know what their plans are for next week let alone the year ahead?
You might be one of those very people, and that’s absolutely okay! Not everyone has their life mapped out, me included (I just usually know what’s going on at least a month in advance – ha!).
So, what if, instead of focusing on everything at the beginning of the calendar year, our business planning is done with the financial year?
In Australia the financial year is 1 July – 30 June.
When you’re breaking your yearly plan down, you’re planning in the financial quarters:
- Q1: 1 July – 30 September
- Q2: 1 October – 31 December
- Q3: 1 January – 31 March
- Q4: 1 April – 30 June
We’re still planning a 12-month time frame, just not in alignment with the Gregorian calendar.
And rather than a full-on planning palooza in December/January, it’s a quiet check in on the last three to six months, while gently looking ahead at the next three to six months.
Adapting to change
When it comes to plans for my business, I find planning in 90-day periods lets me plan in a much more realistic way. I’m the one who’s responsible for creating my own flexible structure.
I’m (highly likely) autistic and I thrive on structure but since becoming a mother I’ve had to learn I can’t control everything, that not everything goes smoothly…especially when your offspring is autistic. Her diagnosis is what made me realise I am likely autistic, but more on that another time.
Life happens. Some things take longer than others and honestly, shit just might not go the way you planned.
For instance, I had hoped to do a full visual rebrand in 2023, but my health was my priority (rightly so) and the plans took a slightly different path. That’s not to say I wasn’t upset or frustrated, ’cause I absolutely was, but I knew it would happen eventually.
I’ve now got a beautiful visual brand refresh that I’m completely and utterly in love with and cannot wait to build upon with my graphic designer when the time is right.
Letting go of the new year is okay
What I’m trying to say is that your plans are not concrete.
It’s absolutely okay for them to change, for whatever reason.
Whether you don’t want to pursue that goal/plan anymore, you achieve it earlier than expected, you want to add to it, or something else entirely. You can do it however you like.
Also, it’s totally okay for you to feel wobbly/get upset/frustrated/downright pissy if your plans get mucked up/don’t work out. Happens to me all the time. It can/does take me a bit of time to get over it. Sometimes it’s days, sometimes it’s weeks. Or longer. It’s really not a linear process.
It’s also your prerogative as to whether or not you have a word of the year, a vision board, a 12-month goal, any of the above, or any goal for that matter. Just as it’s your prerogative to plan at the beginning of the calendar year or not.
Letting go of the new year new you malarkey is absolutely fine. In fact, I highly recommend it. It’s your plan, yours, and no-one else’s. Do what’s best for you, and run with it.
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