#097: How To Plan Your Year In Just 1 Hour [Podcast]

Have you broken your New Year's resolutions yet? Most people have-my estimate is that over 90% have. So what do you do now? I'd say it's time to get serious about planning your year.

Ray-PiestewaAnd on today's episode I'm going to show you how to do it in less than one hour. Also coming up…

  • My top three productivity apps for 2014.
  • Why what you say has spiritual power.
  • Your invitation to a one-day mastermind with me.
  • Now let's get on with it…


  • Thanks to all who have left a review of the podcast in iTunes.  I'm going to start publicly acknowledging those who have done so, if I can identify you (sometimes the usernames in iTunes make that difficult.) This week I would like to thank:  Kingsley, Hope Dispenser… Cindy Bidar… Missouri Broker… Corbin 111… Jim Munchbach… Phil Drysdale… Robert Plank… Ernie Lansford… Carmen Manrique… Nick Douglas… Jeff Brown… Jeff Sanders… Rick Butts… Ryan Eidson… John Tiller… Liz Dugger… Todd Brown… Chad Meisinger… Bob Shoe… Rob Metras…  and Eric Graham.
  • Every person who submits an audio question for the podcast will receive a free gift (if, and only if, we use your question on the podcast). Click here to submit your audio question.
  • Meanwhile, if you would be interested in the possible one-day mastermind with me and 11 other people, where we make radical progress in your business… And if you're not just “interested” but you already know you want to do it,  fill in this form. If it looks like you would be a good fit, I will call you myself.  (If you just want the “details”, listen to the podcast. I explain all the “details”.)

Conferences where I will be attending and/or speaking:

Tip Of The Week 

My top three productivity apps probably will not come as much of a surprise. But I have made a shift, so here they are:

  1. Evernote. I think of Evernote as my “magical filing cabinet/notebook/backup brain”. I really couldn't function the way I do without it.
  2. Nozbe. It took a strong recommendation from Michael Hyatt to finally get me to try a different task management system. I had been using OmniFocus for years.  Now, after just a couple of weeks, I can't imagine going back.
  3. Dragon Dictate.  I have finally taken the time to learn the nuances (pun intended) of using the software. I don't know of anyone who can type faster than they can talk. Other than dictating and having your words recorded by transcriptionist, this is the fastest way I know to write.

Copywriting Corner

If you ever get stuck writing copy, and find yourself staring at a blank page, here's a quick tip that will get the copy flowing again. Just start writing up the offer. Describe the “stuff” you'll be selling. If even that requires too much creativity, try just writing up the guarantee. In other words, write what I call “the stupid parts”. I don't mean that these parts the copy are unimportant, or that you should be careless about the final draft of these sections. What I do mean is that you can write this kind of copy even if you are in a “stupid state”. I usually find that fairly soon the creativity starts to flow again, and I can start writing “the smart parts”. And yes, I also go back and rewrite the parts I started with, because all of your copy needs to be “smart parts”.

Spiritual Foundations

I believe that as followers of Christ, we have the very Spirit of God living inside of us. I believe because of this, the words we speak have power. Thus, saying negative things (“I can't do this”… “Why does this always happen to me”… “It always turns out like this”… and so on) can have a powerful adverse impact on our lives. By the same token, saying positive things brings about good things in our life. This is not “positive thinking”. It is absolutely not “The Secret”, which is a new age religion not compatible with following Christ.

Some people wonder if my belief in “positive declarations” is Biblical. It certainly is. And here are 3 biblical reasons why you should only declare good things about yourself, your loved ones, and your life.

  1. When we speak or hear life-giving declarations, grace is imparted. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians [4:29])
  2. The words we speak can either bless or curse our lives. “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew [12:37])
  3. Perhaps the most powerful Scripture on this topic is also the simplest: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs [18:21]).

Feature Segment: How To Plan Your Year In Just 1 Hour

By now it's likely your  New Year's resolutions are broken. Most people's are. I believe the reason behind this is the same force that was behind my experience while hiking recently.  I got so focused on the length and height of the mountain we were trying to climb, I wanted to give up.  It was only when I learned to focus on short-term and intermediate points on the path that I found the strength to continue the hike. (For the full hiking story,  you need to listen to the show!)

This is the problem with New Year's resolutions. I have a different plan in mind for you. Here's how to plan your entire year in an hour or less, and it matches up a lot more closely with what you already do naturally anyway.

First, plan your days off. 52 weeks means 52 Saturdays and Sundays… Which really should be 104 days free from work. Add in 10 days for actual vacation, and 10 more days for holidays, and you have a minimum of 124 free days. Put those in your calendar, and protect them like the treasure they are.

Next, plan the important personal events that you simply must attend. Weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and family reunions come to mind. I would also include here any important church or mission functions.

Now, plan any seminars, conferences, or other learning events you are going to attend. Don't fool yourself; you have a limited number of these events you can attend. You probably know the most important ones already so plug them into the calendar. Any weekends or other free days that get eaten up by these events must be replaced somewhere else in your calendar.

At this point, in my own planning I realized I had only about 165 days left before I even started the year. That means out of the entire year, I only had 23 weeks to “work”… less than half the weeks in the year. This is a powerful realization, because the things that I have listed above are going to happen to you… whether you put them on the calendar or not. The only exception might be that, because of a lack of planning, you sacrifice your “free days”… meaning you are sacrificing time with family, time recharging and resting, time to re-create. Big mistake.

So what do you do when youre remaining 23 weeks (or whatever number you came up with)? First of all, I don't recommend working 12-15 hours a day to try and make up the difference. In fact, I recommend you limit your work day to about six hours. That's all the productive time you're going to get out of the day anyhow, whether you admit it or not. This leads us to a very important realization… we can now calculate the value of an hour of our work. Here's how to do that…

  • Decide how much money you want to make this year. Let's say, just for the sake of example, your target income is $200,000.
  • You have 165 days to work,  And I think it's pretty fair to say that a third of those days will be spent doing administrative and preparatory work (in other words, not the actual stuff your paid for).
  • This leaves you with about 110 full “workdays”-days when you perform the actual work that gets you paid.
  • Let's suppose you're going to work seven hours per day (and if you can actually squeeze seven productive hours out of a day, you are performing at a higher level than 95% of everyone else on earth… congratulations.)
  • Seven hours per day times 110 days yields 770 hours. Which means you're being paid $259.74 per hour in order to make your $200,000 this year.

So what's the point? I haven't describe anything unrealistic. In fact, I may have just given you the first realistic picture of what your year actually looks like you've ever seen. Perhaps right now you're having a revelation of why you never made the money you want to make, or achieved the things you want to achieve. It's because you have less time available to work than you think you do. This is not bad news. It simply means your primary question should be: “Is what I'm doing right now worth $259.74 per hour?” If the answer is no… stop it.

You're probably already ahead of me. You're probably thinking about all the other things I haven't plugged into your schedule… doctor appointments, unexpected illnesses, pleasant surprises… even the possibility that you want to make more money than what I mentioned.

My point isn't even that you need to have a perfect plan. It's that you need to put the big pieces of the puzzle in your calendar first, the ones you know that are beyond choosing, the ones you know that are important (like those free days), and the ones you know you have little control over. It means you need to get a realistic view of how many hours you actually have available to you this year to accomplish your goals, to be intentional about how you use them, and most importantly… to not be surprised at the end of the year, when you could've planned a different outcome.

I suppose if I had a summary message it would be this: I believe you can do almost anything you want this year, but you almost certainly cannot do everything you want.

What To Do Now

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Question: how do you plan your year? Click here to leave your comments.

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Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at RayEdwards.com.