A common difficulty for people is that their day-to-day work and choices don’t always line up to their vision, values, and strategies for overcoming their challenges. To grow and thrive, you have to align what you do day-to-day with where you want your life to go.
Since the Annual Momentum Planner’s main job is to help you shape the year, it directs you to choose what the main guiding factors for your year will be. Values, themes, and challenges are those guiding factors — they give you some defaults to work from and break the tyranny of Too Many Choices that can make it really hard to figure out how to get some grip on your planning.
While I prefer to keep definitions loose enough so that you can make them work for you, here are some ways to think about values, themes, and challenges:
- Values are the root-level qualities — like compassion, freedom, wealth, romance, or family — that guide how you make decisions throughout the day.
- Themes are like resolutions, perhaps without the specificity. So a theme of the year might be “Finding Balance” or “Leverage” or “Travel.” They’re not quite values and not quite SMART goals, but still important enough to keep in focus.
- Challenges are those root-level elements — both external and internal — that either keep you from achieving your goals or make it harder to.
You might be frustrated about the lack of space in this area because you’re wanting to capture All the Things as it relates to values, themes, and challenges. This area uses the same principle of constraints as the rest of the planners; it’s meant to have you focus on the values, themes, and challenges that you most want to focus on, cultivate, or overcome. Trying to focus on too many things amounts to not focusing on anything.
Also, what I’ve learned as an advisor is that people sometimes struggle with claiming their actual values (on paper), even while living them out in their lives. This is particularly the case when it comes to relational values (family, friendship, etc.) and security values (money, stability, etc.). I’ll extend Gandhi’s “Action expresses priority” to “Action expresses priority and values.”
Aside from giving you a space to plan what you’re going to do, the Annual Momentum Planner also serves as a tool for self-accountability. If the theme of the year is “Work Less, Play More,” and you get down on yourself because you’re not satisfied with how ambitious your plans are, you have “Work Less, Play More” staring you in the face and asking whether or not it’s the actual theme. Similarly, if you’ve listed “poor cash flow” as a challenge, having it listed there will help you remember to kick off some projects that change that picture or at least get you to ask yourself why you’re not doing it.
A best practice for using this portion of the planner is to reference it when making your monthly and quarterly plans. Look over your Annual Momentum Planner to check where you are on your values, themes, and challenges; if you’re on track, great, but if not, you have a chance this quarter or month to course-correct and go forward. You might also find that your (focus) values, themes, and challenges change throughout the course of the year due to your own growth, self-awareness, or accomplishment. That’s all good, too. Update your planners and drive on.
Spending your days working towards the things that matter most leads to living a productive, flourishing life.
Happy planning and doing!