Planning for Growth in the New Year and Why I’m Starting This Year

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As I pointed out in my post on “planning to plan,” there are times when you have to prepare yourself to actually sit down and make your plans. This past week, I did just that by finalizing the planners I was going to use, and drafting some things I think I want to accomplish next year. Yes, I did a rough draft, just like I would do any piece of writing. I am a writer, after all! 

One thing which I really want to tackle is a more systematic way of approaching growth. This is something, again, that I have found challenging because of my depression. When you have a chronic inability to visualize your own future, how do you plan to grow? 

Often, the only plan is to keep some kind of equilibrium going, even if it’s just in survival mode. Those of you with chronic conditions out there know the score on that count. Survival mode is not conducive to growth. It’s possible—I’m living proof of that. But it’s not easy, and it’s far slower than growing when you’re in a healthy mindset. 

Well, I got a little inspiration from an unexpected place. 

Planning to do the inner work

When Dr. Nicole LaPera came out with a new workbook, I had to pre-order it. How to do the Work is such a great help in learning how to self-regulate that I knew How to Meet Yourself would be the perfect companion for learning to grow in the new year. 

Right away, you have homework to do before you ever start. Dr. Nicole suggests you set your intentions and provides a very helpful exercise to help you do so, schedule times, and prepare a specific place. Personally, I would also add that you become familiar with the self-regulation techniques she provides in the Introduction. 

Now, to me, that sounds exactly like a pre-New Year’s list. After all, if you really want to dive into the new year, why not do the prep work the month before? So, I sat down Thursday night, when I received the workbook and made my to-do list for the new year.

So, How to Meet Your Self is a workbook. You can write your answers to the exercises directly on the pages. I considered doing that. I enjoy making notes in the margins of books, anyway. In the end, I set up a separate journal for me to use to freewrite, make vision boards, and write my answers to the exercises in the workbook. This way, I can continue to use the workbook for years to come. 

Why? Because I considered that I may have to re-meet myself again and again. We change throughout our lifetimes and if say, in a few years, I want to go through it again, I can.

It’s planning to plan on a potent cocktail of pixie dust (the kind you get from Disney World) and that feeling you get when you sense a lifeline. 

Planning a more detailed schedule. 

All freelancers will probably tell you that one of the hardest parts of freelancing, aside from getting new clients, is learning how to really manage your time. You no longer have a 9-5 work block to plan around anymore, so you have to put systems and processes in place so that you don’t waste your time. 

Going through How to Meet Yourself is another help in that regard, because I know of at least one more thing I need to add to my schedule and how much time I will need to dedicate to it. Figuring out where it goes in my schedule is something else I can do this month. It’s part of the checklist in the book, after all! 

But, unlike some of the other things on my to-schedule list, this is purely for my own benefit and not for the sake of expanding the business, setting up the business, getting more clients, etc. This is just for me. So I’m forcing myself to prioritize my health first. 

Again, this is a way of planning without actually making a plan. I’m visualizing where I’d like to put it in my schedule before I actually do it. Just as I am visualizing the rest of my time blocks and what I want to accomplish in them. 

Of course, writing time has to fit in there too! 

Planning to be more spiritual. 

This should apply to everyone unless you are a strict materialist who doesn’t believe in a spiritual realm. Even then, “spiritual time” should at least be “self-care time.” For those of us who have faith (regardless of what that faith may be), planning your spirituality should be a major priority in our plans for next year. 

Whatever that looks like for you, I hope you take the time to follow it. Maybe that’s meditating more, volunteering more, or attending religious services more. Perhaps that’s finding a new spiritual path, changing your affiliation, or returning to a spiritual practice you’d previously forsaken. 

Or, like me, finding a spiritual practice in your current affiliation that better meets your needs and allows you to grow. 

Disclaimer

I’m not about to go into all the ways you should go about being more spiritual, because that would be highly presumptuous. I don’t know the specifics of all the religions out there. And there’s nothing anyone dislikes more than a proselytizer who says this way and no other way

So, what I’m going to do is provide you with an example from a branch of my religion. I’m not about to suggest this is what you absolutely must do. Far from it. Instead, I hope it gets you to explore your own religion in a little more detail. I’d be willing to bet every religion out there has something similar. 

A Monastic Practice 

So, a few years ago I treated myself to a monastic diurnal. A diurnal is a book with all the psalms and prayers in it for a monk’s working day. I was intrigued by the medieval books of hours which had prayers set down for nearly every hour of the day, and this was as close as I could get to actually being able to do it myself. 

What’s a diurnal? A diurnal has all the prayers, psalms, and hymns a monk (or nun) would need to perform throughout the day if they were away from the monastery or abbey. The one I have is from the recommended liturgy from Benedict of Nursia and it basically makes you go through all 150 Psalms. 

Here’s the thing. The monastic diurnal is about 1,000 years removed from our present-day reality. There are SEVEN divisions during the day in the diurnal, two of which are dependent on when you go to sleep and when the sun comes up. Only monks and nuns in specific orders still use diurnals today. Your everyday Christian doesn’t even attend church regularly anymore. 

This means I’ve started adding this practice into my daily practice now just so I can get the hang of the diurnal itself. 

So, why bother with this particular practice? 

Well, for me, and I don’t speak for everyone, there is something calming about following a practice that has everything set for specific hours in the day. Not only does this make it easier for me to place in my schedule, but because there are only deviations for the seasons and saints’ days, I don’t have to be worried about getting side-tracked. 

Basically, it’s a ready-made ritual and one which has stood the test for centuries. For me, that’s a win-win. For others, it may be too limiting. 

Whatever practice you eventually take up should bring you peace and calm. If that means you perform the same prayers repeatedly, or recite the same mantra/scriptures, then so be it. Ultimately, growing spiritually is about your relationship with the Divine. 

It’s not about meeting someone else’s expectations or definitions of spiritual growth. 

More planning ahead…

Next week, I’ll be going over another aspect of “planning to plan” and that is planning to endure. Coincidentally, next Monday is also Jane Austen’s birthday, which I find highly appropriate, especially as a fellow writer. 

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