Ellie Swift Life Success Coach

I have a confession to make. I identify as a planner, although I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to deny it.

It’s so much more appealing to identify instead as the spontaneous-fun-cool girl (who still exists, albeit in smaller quantities!) You know what I’ve decided though? Denial, be gone! Since being a coach and business owner these last few years I’ve fully embraced how much I love planning out my schedule, being organised, and encouraging others to do the same to get the results they really want.

And – as we begin another year – there is no better time than to sit down and really dig into what we want to achieve for the year ahead.

I’ve poured all my tips into what I’ve learnt from the likes of coaches and online business owners Natalie MacNeil, Amy Porterfield, Tim Ferris, Danielle LaPorte, and more to bring together the exact system I use to plan my calendar year.

How do you complete this process? Simple. Give yourself a couple of blocks of time either at the end of the calendar year or in January/February and work through it. I know how busy you are, so this doesn’t need to become an elaborate process or something that is overworked, procrastinated on and therefore never completed.

You might also want to talk through your goals and roadmap with a coach or business bestie to help gain the clarity you need for the year ahead. This process should be FUN, so do whatever you need to make it feel that way. Mint tea, a glass of vino, butchers paper, bright coloured pens, loud music – whatever floats your boat.

Let’s dive in…



1. Be guided by your reflection


To move forward in a way that is meaningful, I like to first reflect on what I learnt in the year prior. Refer back to my previous blog post How to reflect on your yearfirst if you haven’t done so already. We’ll meet you back here afterwards for the next steps.

Once you have done this reflection, look over what you have achieved with the future in mind. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What parts of your life do you want to stay the same in the New Year?
  • What do you want to change?
  • What incredible achievements can you grow on?


“What do I need to do to feel the way I want to feel?”

– Danielle LaPorte


2. Sit with how you want to feel


The next step is to identify how you want to feel.

If you have time to really dive into this process fully, then you may want to work through Danielle LaPorte’s ‘Desire Map’, where she takes you through a process to get really clear on your core desired feelings. For those of you that are time-poor, I’ve summarised some key questions to ask yourself to draw out how you want to feel:

  • How do I feel when I’m most alive and ‘in my body’?
  • How would people describe me when I’m at my best?
  • How would I want to describe myself?
  • How do I most want to feel in 2018?


3. Then, dream up your big goals


Now that you know how you want to feel, it’s time to set your goals based on that.

What do you want to achieve in your life/business/career in 2018? This is your chance to get really clear on * exactly * what you want. If the entire year seems scary, break it down into the first half of the year and reassess at the end of June.

These goals should invigorate you, inspire you and make you feel excited to the point of a teeny bit scared.

And don’t forget the all-important additions – goals that are measurable and have a specific timeframe that you can work towards. For example: ‘Get my blog posts or interviews published in three print or digital media outlets by September 2018’, could be one of your goals.

Personally, I like to have one goal that I’m focused on per quarter, as well as one personal goal or habit. For example, one I’m setting for the first quarter of next year is to do yoga or stretch out on my mat every single day. You can see how this falls into more of the ‘habit’ category rather than a goal.


“Create the highest, grandest vision for your life, because you become what you believe.”

– Oprah Winfrey



4. Create your vision board

You know how you want to feel and you have your goals in place, and I’ll bet it wasn’t as hard as you thought it might be.

Now is your time to dream big.

I use Pinterest for this process as I find it’s much simpler. I then create a private pin board and spend an afternoon or a couple of hours pinning all the images that visually represent how I want the calendar year to look.

Some pins that will likely be part of my calendar for next year…

  • Pictures of travel destinations
  • The ideal set up of my home office
  • Women I admire/mentors
  • Publications I want to be featured in
  • Messages/quotes I want to share through my business

If you prefer offline methods, you can either draw or cut out pictures from magazines and paste them onto a big board or piece of paper.


“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting the first one.” 

– Mark Twain


5. Get down into the detail


At this point you should have a really clear picture of what your ideal year looks like. Now it’s time to nut out what you need to achieve for each of these goals.

Under each goal, create a title called ‘Projects.’

From here you should be able to list out 4-5 projects that you need to do to achieve the goal.

For example, continuing with my theme above, your projects might be:

  • Create list of titles I would like to feature in
  • Write consistent blog posts throughout the year
  • Hone my pitching skills
  • Pitch to the list of ideal publications

Then under each ‘Project’ list all the things you need to do to complete that project. Get granular! This includes everything from sending individual emails to researching content for your blog posts, uploading the blog posts, etc. Treat this as a Wordstorm and write out every single task (in any order that it springs to mind).


6. Put it in the project planner


You should now have several pages of goals, projects to achieve your goals, and tasks within each project.

This is where we come back to structure. Take all of these projects and tasks and put them into whichever project management tool you use (I use and recommend Asana) with specific deadlines for each task.

How freaking organised do you feel right now?


7. The final step (optional): The physical diary


Now that you have all these tasks laid out, you may want to get your hands on a big wall calendar or physical diary so that you can plot out your key deadlines and areas of focus across the year.

Some of my favourite physical diaries that combine a beautiful mix of practical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing include Emma Kate Co and Danielle LaPorte’s.

Now you can feel accomplished knowing you have a clear line of sight into your year and what you want to achieve.


There’s one final note to remember though, and that is that the best-laid plans can go awry.

Be flexible.

Don’t plan so much that you aren’t willing to change course or pivot when the magic happens. For example – if you are suddenly published in your ultimate magazine, you would change your promotional calendar to leverage that particular article as much as you possibly could.

We plan not to be control freaks, but to know we are doing everything we can to achieve and create our best work. Sometimes life gets in the way, so when that happens we must surrender.


A special offer!


I am so excited to announce that I have just launched a special ‘Intro to 2018’ offer, that consists of a 60-minute session to plan your life, business (or both!) as we dive into the New Year.

Together, we will go through this planning process to uncover how you want to feel in 2018, the goals you want to achieve and the roadmap to make it happen.

With my help, you will be setting the right goals, taking the most strategic action and on your way to achieving all the things you have been wanting to focus on to make your dreams come true.

Click straight through via the link below to make your booking now:




Alternatively, you can read more about the offer here.

This offer will only be available for booking until 20 December 2017, so if you have ever considered life coaching or coaching with me I encourage you to get in quickly. My standard coaching packages do not consist of single sessions, so this is the only time during the year that this will be available.

Much love and success,






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