Our 7 Favorite New Year Planning Resources for Makers on a Mission


We’re really into New Year’s.

Not the parties or the countdown, so much. But the chance to pause, plan, and reflect. For us, New Year’s has always felt like the end of one year, and the beginning of... whatever we want.

For the makers we work with, I think that there is even more of a sense of the opportunity of the new year, since Christmas orders finally taper off and they can start to have space to imagine something new.

This year, the transition between 2015 and 2016 feels especially significant to us, for sure. In 2015, Wholesale In a Box went from longing, to sparkly idea, to a promise-filled business that we love. And for us, 2016 is going to be about nourishing this community, these partners, these maker business so that we can be more deeply in service to people doing work they love.

In these weeks around Christmas and New Year’s, we’re taking time to ski, to make cookies, to be with family, and to dig deep into our reflection on 2015 and plan for 2016. We’re just starting that process. But we wanted to share some of our favorite New Year’s rituals and resources that you can pick and choose from to whatever else you do around this time.

Within your business, you might have to drill down and do more strategic and tactical planning. You might need to get really specific. Or you might need to get super-metaphysical and do spirit-level work. But in the middle somewhere, we think you’ll want to do the simple, deep work of simply looking at the year that has passed and imagining what is next.

In service to that, these are our favorite New Year’s rituals and resources for creative entrepreneurs and maker businesses:

  • Writing out a life painting
    I’m not positive where this came from originally, but the person who told me was Melissa Foster at Brilliant Life Design. And Anna Kunnecke told me that people tend to overestimate how much they can do in one year but underestimate how much they can do in three years. So I always pick a date three years in the future and just do a stream of consciousness writing exercise answering the question, “If anything were possible, what would my life look/smell/sound/feel/be like 3 years from today?” You don’t have to make an action plan from it, though that can be a great next step. Just the act of writing it down can be so powerful. 
  • Picking a word as a theme for the year.
    Whether it’s dominion, receive, bliss, give or grow -- the idea is to settle on a word that is meant to be the guiding value for that year in your life. I’m too indecisive/greedy to actually pick one word, but Anna Kunnecke does it and it’s working for her.
  • Elise’s Get To Work Book
    I know there are a lot of planners out there, but this is one I really admire. It is a flexible planning system with a lovely, minimal design. It’s been fun to see how different people use it, too. 
  • The annual review
    If you’re more of a spreadsheet kind of gal, Chris Guillebeau always does an “annual review” that is on the comprehensive and systematic end of things. Plus, he has a free spreadsheet goal-setting tool.
  • A beautiful wall calendar
    This might sound a little silly, but in such an electronic world, where most of what I do is corralled in pixels, I love to have a gorgeous market of time on the wall, like MARGINS’ moon calendar or Native Bear’s gorgeous wall calendar
  • Questions we sometimes answer, usually with colored sharpies:
    • What was great, successful, and wonderful?
    • What was challenging, sticky, a failure, or felt draining?
    • What do we want to let go of?
    • Who do we want to be and how do we want to feel this year?
    • If anything were possible, what would 2016 look like?
  • Other things we do:
    • Plotting out month by month when we want to do things during the year. Travel, trips to family, creative retreats, major milestones.
    • Writing thank you notes. There is something really cathartic, and energizing, and powerful and writing thank you notes to people who have given you the gift of inspiration, support, partnership, trust, or other equally powerful things. We’re doing a little batch of these to the people who have meant the most to our business this year, and it’s been one of our favorite rituals on a number of levels.

The most important thing is to set aside time to reflect on your year with both honesty and gratitude -- and then letting yourself imagine what’s after that. There’s obviously no “right” way to do this, and I tend to get overwhelmed when I see a million questions or an obsessively rational/logical/left-brained approach. So just grab whatever set of exercises or questions has a sense of fun or ease to it, a notebook, something delicious to eat, and listen to yourself for a few hours.

Let us know how it goes, and if we can be of any help or support -- we’re here. Happy 2016!


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