Winter is a Time for Reflection and Planning

Snow covered vineyard

After the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over and the cold weather sets in, many of us find a few extra minutes for reflection – what went well last year, what do I need to improve this year, etc. This is also a great time to start planning the things that you want to accomplish this year. I don’t like to use the word “resolutions” but rather “plans”. Plans can change and that’ okay. One of the hardest things to achieve in life is learning to be flexible. Farm living, on the other hand, has a way of forcing flexibility into our lives. You can’t always plan a harvest date or when your goat will give birth. But you can always make plans and then modify them later if necessary.

What plans should I make?

The act of reflection is an important part of planning. Take some time to think about goals that you may have for yourself or your family this year. Here is a list of questions to kickstart the thinking:

  • Is there a new skill that you want to learn?
  • Do you want to take a family vacation this year?
  • Are there summer camps that your kids want to sign up for?
  • Are there projects around the house that you want to start (or finish)?
  • Is there a large purchase that you need to start saving money for?
  • Is there a book or book series that you’ve been dying to read?

How to decide where to start

There is a great book written by Brian P. Moran called the 12 Week Year. He suggests that a 12 month execution window for getting things done is too long. The solution is to break up the year into 12 week blocks. It’s much easier to pick your top three priorities for the next 3 months and then you can also easily track your progress. If you take the time to consider carefully the top 3 things that you want to accomplish in the next 3 months, then it makes the planning piece so much easier. Now when you have a few spare minutes, you just have to buckle down and accomplish those tasks.

I’ve tried this method in the past and I was pleased with how it worked. I have to admit though that I only accomplished 2 out of the 3 tasks that I gave myself! My third goal wasn’t important enough to me and therefore it shouldn’t have made the list. I still think there is a lot of merit in this idea and I will likely continue using it. My problem has always been that the reflection phase takes too long – by the time I figure out what I want to accomplish – 6 out of my 12 week execution period is already gone! Maybe I’ll get better with practice. So here’s a shot at my top 3 things that I want to accomplish in this quarter:

Amy’s first quarter plans

  • Finish the chicken coop so that we’re ready for chickens this spring
  • Prune all the grapevines
  • Order and replace the filters on my air blast sprayer

It’s a bit scary to write down your plans because you suddenly become accountable. However, research has shown that you are more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down. So why not give it a shot! Let me know in a comment what you all are planning to accomplish in the next 12 weeks. If you would like some help fine tuning your goals/tasks, send me an email and I’ll give you some feedback. Spring is right around the corner so use these long, cold winter nights to start planning!

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