The Art of Big Picture Planning
We’re taught to believe January is the month we need to think about our lives and make big changes. To create goals to live out for the rest of the year. So we create huge and often meaningless goals and come February, we’re knee deep in disappointment, frustration, or sheer annoyance at ourselves for not being this magical dedicated fairy who hit all the markers and habit tracking boxes we set up for ourselves.
I’ve been guilty of this time and time again.
A few years ago, I went against tradition and decided to evaluate my life a little differently. I wanted to analyze my life regularly: long term, short term, daily, and whenever I felt my soul aching for a shift. But one thing I would not be doing would be creating unrealistic goals for myself in January, even if the 1st of the year started on a Monday. I wasn’t going to do it. Nah ah.
I wanted to approach my life with reverence. I wanted to address what life was all about in the first place.
I asked myself one important question that has now changed the entire way I think about goal setting:
What kind of life am I creating and why?
I call this Big Picture Planning.
It’s the art of envisioning and mapping out the life you want to lead, rather than creating a life based off of what someone, somewhere else (probably on tik tok) is telling you to do because it’s trending.
It’s a life on your own terms.
You see, much like a painter standing before a blank canvas, we have the power to create our own masterpiece, whenever creativity hits us. So as you stand at the crossroads of today and tomorrow, consider the brushstrokes that will define your canvas when you gaze back upon it in the twilight of your years.
These are the 3 steps I use. They are fun, I always look forward to the process, and nothing is set in stone.
1. Create a Vision
Big picture planning starts with a vision – a vivid, detailed image of the life you aspire to lead. It's about imagining not just the tangible achievements, but also the emotions, relationships, and personal growth that will color your canvas. Think about your career, relationships, health, and personal development. What do you see when you close your eyes and dream of your ideal life?
I brain dump this in a journal. I map out what I hope to have done with my life when I’m old and grey and telling my grandkids my lifetime of stories.
I then take these ideas and make them visual on Pinterest. I have a board called “My One Beautiful Life” and I edit it every now and then, but I print it out yearly (usually in February when I start to settle in). It acts as my anchor and my guide for everything else moving forward.
2. Set Meaningful Goals
Goals are the milestones that bring your vision to life. The One Beautiful Life Pinterest board I have? I ask myself how am I going to get there? How am I going to create that life for myself?
Goals act as the guiding stars. They provide direction, purpose, and a sense of accomplishment. I consider professional aspirations, personal relationships, health and wellness, and even contributions to the community. I don’t put a timeline on anything just yet (that’s for another day), I just begin with understanding what needs to happen for those images on Pinterest to become a reality. I write them down in a journal and I let them linger for a moment.
3. Theme the Vision
I like a word of the year, but sometimes one word just feels too restrictive. I like to have a theme for the vision and often, I break it into 3, because my life is complex and beautiful, and one word isn’t enough. These words can change whenever I feel inspired, but I like one for my internal life, one for my external life, and one professionally.
This year, in this moment, I’ve chosen:
Internal (how I want to feel things): Savor
External (how I want to experience things): Delight
Professional (how I want to approach my career): Confident
I print both my pinterest board and my words of the season and I frame them on my desk and add them as a bookmark in my journal. They remind me of how I want to live my one beautiful life.
Once I've completed those 3 steps, I take a breather. If you want to join me on a longer journey, I'll be sharing next week how to break those life goals down to 20, 10 , 5 and 1 year action plans, resulting in a system that is set up for an easy 90 days at a time! When I'm old and grey, I want to say I lived a life worthy of a legacy. To create that legacy, it begins one day at a time.
Rooting for you,
Want to get the FREE Canva template I created for the One Beautiful Life vision board?
Looking to dive deeper? As a certified coach, I offer a tailored, focused, and results-driven approach designed to guide you away from overwhelm and into working from a place of inspiration and rest. Schedule a coaching discovery call and take the first step towards a more joyful you.