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The Three Types of Planners (Which Are You?)

Right now, everyone is telling you the new year is supposed to feel like the picture below:

Blank Canvas

A blank canvas. Endless possibilities. A clean slate.

Sounds great, right?

It might make for a nice Hallmark card, but in my experience it’s actually one of the worst ways you can look at the new year.

Typically, the “blank canvas” approach leads to one of three reactions that undermine whatever momentum you’re hoping to generate to kick off the year.

Which of these sounds like you?

(1) The Optimist: “Time to do ALL the things!” 🤯

If you like to nerd out on productivity like me, this is second nature. (Just this past week I was listing out a “few” things I’m excited to do in 2023 and it took up two pages of my notebook.)

You’re ready to toss out your old tools and habits so you can try the latest shiny object.

New apps, new journal, new morning routine, new goals, new projects, new habits!

And so, instead of starting with 15 minutes of cardio every morning, you’re going to change your diet, order a Peloton, buy a new fitness tracking app, and start waking up at 5AM all at once.

Then you’ll rinse and repeat in eight other areas of your life.

By February, you’re burnt out, lacking motivation, and falling back into the bad habits you were hoping to leave behind. I know because I have 100% been there. I am totally the optimist and I am all too familiar with its downsides. That’s why we teach the Law of Attention and the Law of Tradeoffs inside Focus Academy.

(2) The Optional: “How do I decide what to do?” 🤔

The thought of a blank canvas might be energizing to some people, but it’s overwhelming to you. We also call this Analysis Paralysis — when there are too many open loops running in your mind that narrowing down which ones actually matter is a constant battle.

Add in a little bit of perfectionism and procrastination, and things can get stuck fast. If you try to find clarity by dropping everything and getting started with a blank canvas… it can actually be twice as hard.

(3) The Overwhelmed: “Uhhh…where’s this blank canvas supposed to be exactly?” 😓

The calendar year may be flipping, but it’s not like that magically hits refresh on your responsibilities.

The things you’ve been meaning to do — the side projects, the creative interests, the stuff that would bring some balance to your life — don’t seem doable without more margin…

…and where are you going to find that margin?

The only way to get a “blank canvas” would be to douse your calendar in gasoline and light a match.

. . . . .

If you want to make meaningful changes in your life, you can’t ignore the context in which those changes will take place.

Your life is not a blank canvas — but it’s also not a finished one, either.

(Say it again for the people in the back…)

Your life is not a blank canvas — but it’s also not a finished one, either.

You don’t have to throw everything out in order to start getting different results.

Small, incremental changes that align with your values is the name of the game.

. . . . .

Tomorrow, I am going to show you a healthier way to think about change, goals, and focusing on what matters.

This is something that doesn’t expect you to just wipe the slate clean and start from scratch whenever you feel like it.

For now, though, think about the three types of reactions I described above.

^ Which one of those 3 are you feeling right now?

  1. Are you about to let your optimism overtake your calendar?

  2. Are you still struggling to prioritize where exactly your focus should be?

  3. Are you overwhelmed, drowning in so many day-to-day tasks that you feel like you can’t even think about this stuff right now?

(You might, like many folks I talk to, be a bit of all three.)

Either way, I have good news: For all of these, there is a solution!