How to start planning for 2021 and make it your best year yet!

Here we are at THAT time of year.

The time when those who have already created a plan for 2021 are sitting pretty, safe in the knowledge that they have it all mapped out.

And then there’s the rest, who don’t. Who might be a little overwhelmed by all this talk of planning, setting goals, smashing 2021 and so on – especially if 2020 hasn’t lived up to expectations.

But with the end of year approaching, there are no more excuses. It’s time to get down to business and start that all important planning for 2021.

Which is why I’m going to share with you the exact system I use to plan my year - both personally and professionally in four steps.


Step 1: Plan Your Personal Life First

Entrepreneurship is important, inspiring and exciting, however it’s also important to step away from it sometimes and enjoy life along the way. As the saying goes, ‘work is what you do, it’s not who you are’.

After being in business for myself for over a decade I can tell you if you’re not fulfilled in your personal life you won’t be as productive in your business.  So your first step to planning your year is to plan your personal life first.  Here's how:


Choose one day every week (minimum) that you do not work (no checking emails, posting on social media, nothing). This is a day just for you/you and your family. Then as you get more planned and productive choose a second day and so on until you remove yourself from the day to day and are just focusing on the big rocks in your business.  More on those in a minute.

Plan in 4 x holidays per year. That’s right…you’re going to plan to take a break four times per year.  Running a business is like running a marathon and you’re the athlete running the race so it’s important to take four breaks a year to rest and rejuvenate.  If you’ve never don’t this, trust me it will be a game changer for you and your business!

The breaks don’t have to be lengthy, costly or far from home, you can start small then build up.  For example, the first year I put this into place I took my son away on four mini 2-3-day weekend vacations in his school holidays – one of which was to Grandmas Caravan. The next year they were a combination of 2-day and 8-day vacations.  Now five years on, I aim for 2 months of work and 1 month of travel 4 x per year. 

Given the imposed travel restrictions here in the UK in 2020 we only managed two small vacations - our trips to Australia, Canada and New York had to be postponed.  But we had them planned in ready to go.

Add in birthdays and special events. Include your birthday, family and close friends’ birthdays.  For special events, these could be a fun run, church, winter sleep out etc.

Add in date nights with your partner. Schedule some 1:1 intimate time at least 1 x per month or every two weeks if you can - the frequency is up to you.  Schedule them in for the next 12 months then give the schedule to your babysitter and lock them in.  You’ll be thanking me at the end of the year!

Add time in for personal care (hair, massage, nails etc). Where possible batch these activities into a half or 1-day day window so you are using your time efficiently.  For me, every second Friday I schedule a personal care morning to get my hair done, waxing etc.  So think of what you need to do and how often then schedule all in, batching where possible. 

Add in time with extended families and close friends. How often do you see the rest of your family?  When are you going to catch up with your inner circle of friends? Plan in when you will see them – once a year, twice a year, every Sunday? The frequency is up to you.

Add in time for personal hobbies/health & Fitness. If there is a sport or activity you love to do, schedule it in.


Step 2: Plan Your Business Life

Your business life can be categorized into three core areas – big rocks, pebbles and sand.  I first saw this concept many years ago on a video by motivation coach Stephen Covey where he shares that if you want to get everything done you have to put the big rocks in first, then the pebbles then the sand.  It’s such a powerful visual and a principle that can help you to plan your business life.  Let’s take a look…

Big Rocks

Your big rocks are the things you do in your business to attract leads/customers and make sales.  This is your revenue generating activity which could include things like:

  • Speaking
  • 1:1 presentations
  • Free workshops/Seminars
  • Conferences
  • Expos
  • Content
  • Meetings, sales appointments
  • Social Ads
  • Promotions

Your big rocks are all the things you do to grow your business and take someone from not knowing you to buying from you.

Again, where possible batch these activities together e.g. every Wednesday you do 1:1 presentations, the first Friday of every month you prepare your value content.

When you do this you can also do your revenue projections and ask your self – do I need to up my activity to reach my income goals?  


The next area is your pebbles.  These are the activities you need to do to deliver on your product or service promise.  This could include:

  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • 1:1 meetings
  • zoom presentations
  • Facebook lives
  • and so on.

This will be different for every business, but your pebbles are whatever you have to do to deliver your service and or value promise to your clients.


Finally, sand is everything else you need to do to run your business.  Sand activities could include:

  • Action planning sessions (quarterly)
  • Content planning/writing sessions (quarterly)
  • Accountant check in (quarterly)
  • Team training / reward days (quarterly)
  • Cleaning, stock takes, product ordering etc. (quarterly)
  • Self-Education / Upskilling (monthly)


Step 3: Add All into A Calendar

Once you’ve identified your big rocks, pebbles and sand, take the time to put everything into an annual calendar (and your diary).  There are various calendar programs you can use including Canva, Apple Pages, Google Sheets or Excel.  Pick whatever works for you.  I also have a handy Blank Calendar template in the Resources section of my website you can use to prioritize and organize your tasks.

Make it fun, color code to differentiate personal activities from business and big rocks from pebbles etc.

By blocking those important dates in your diary, you’ll have a constant reminder of where you need to be and what you need to be doing, you won’t find yourself double booked or overly stressed.


Step 4: Print and Share

Once you have all activity logged into your calendar, print it out, pin it up in your office and share it with anyone in your team, family or inner circle who might need it.

Remember ‘progress is better than perfection’.  This planning system changed my life, and it can change yours too.


Need More Help?

If you’d like to discover where your focus should be to achieve your next level of growth, then take my free online business quiz here.

Alternatively, should you want more help and inspiration to achieve your goals in 2021 and beyond, my ‘On Your Terms’ book and strategic planning journal can assist.  Described as the ‘go-to’ publication for businesses, this informative book and beautifully crafted journal will show you how to master the art and science of “Marketing” and guide you to create your very own blueprint for business success so you enter the new year feeling relaxed and in control.

Click here to learn more and purchase your copies.

Here's to your success!


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