3 Ways to De-Stress Your 2013 Planning

In between your holiday shopping + cookie baking (or eating), I’m willing to bet you’re planning many exciting things for your business next year. New programs, new products, new offerings, more social media, more juicy content – all wrapped up in a big bow with your other resolutions like trying to avoid salted chocolate caramels, or getting off the couch more often, or spending more time away from your beloved laptop.

Whew! You must be exhausted with planning already. I know I am.

I enter every year with a huge chart of programs that I plan to bring to life complete with launch plans and schedules plus a bajillion other ideas and to-do’s.

On my list for next year? A super duper awesome DIY PR program that will knock your socks off (and is totally affordable). Lots of STARMAKER sessions with awesome business owners. A spicy book collaboration. And a sprinkle of screenplay writing in my spare time.

I was hell-bent on erasing New Year planning stress this year and really wanted to enjoy my holiday season filled with family, friends, and lotsa food. Here are some of the best tips I’ve found to de-stress my 2013 planning. I hope they help you too.

Create a Theme for 2013

My beautiful friend and colleague Maria Ross from Red Slice Marketing told me this concept over tuna melts a few weeks ago. Setting a theme for 2013 helps you easily make those tough decisions – what will you bring to life and what will you shelve for the New Year?

My theme this year is Create. This means I’m hopelessly devoted to creating amazing programs, blogs, books, and other works of art for you and for me.

My husband chose Health. He is devoting next year to growing a garden filled with fresh herbs, broccoli, beets, cucumbers, kale, and a host of other leafy vegetables and trying + tweaking recipes filled with ingredients from our own backyard.

Design your Planning System

There are so many tools, books and programs on planning that just choosing one simple method turns you into a total stressball. Choosing the best method for you takes a little trial + error, but once you find it, things flow smooth as butter.

The best thing to keep in mind is that no two systems are the same and there isn’t a “right” way to do something, even if other successful folks are doin’ it.

For example, most of my peers use online planning tools. Online planning + scheduling gives me the willies. I am a hard-copy planner, which means I use a big, adorably-designed paper planner and scribble in it using different color pens (right now, my ink is pink). I purchased this amazing Day Designer this year  to keep track of all my planned goodies.

Here are a few other alternatives from sassy entrepreneurs you might like to help get your ducks in a row:

Oh My Handmade Happy Healthy Entrepreneur Planner

Track This! Workbook from papernstich

Bombchelle – 2013 Planning + Systems + Strategy Workshops

Build in Rewards

One of the the things I missed the most when I became an entrepreneur many years ago was the praise + rewards that came from my boss.

Now that I was my own boss, how would I reward my own ‘job well done?’

I didn’t…at first. Which led to complete burnout. Until I realized that rewards had to be scheduled – just like work activities – so I wouldn’t forget to celebrate success.

Giving yourself a much-deserved pat on the back doesn’t mean spending tons of dough. Here are a few ideas to reward yourself that are {almost} free:

  • Buy a new song for your iPod that gives you chills
  • Go to Barnes + Noble and read some totally trashy entertainment magazines while sipping a frothy beverage
  • Take a long, lazy walk in a new place
  • Watch movie trailers on YouTube (ok, maybe I’m the only one that likes doing that)
  • Play with your puppy or kitty
  • Read a guilty-pleasure novel (I hear Gone Girl is amazing)
  • Catch up with your favorite person over lunch, dinner, drinks or a hike
  • Try that thing you’ve always wanted to try, but never made time to do it
  • Bake chocolate chip cookies (and then eat them while piping hot, with milk)


Tis the Season for Special Treats!

I’m gifting a 1-hour PR strategy session to a lucky random gal or guy who answers ONE of the following questions in the comments below.

1. What’s your theme for 2013?

2. What is your favorite system for planning?

3. How do you like to reward a ‘job well done?’

OUR WINNER HAS BEEN CHOSEN – Big Congrats to Alyssa from High Wire in Heels

Too much of a good thing...

is delicious. :)

Don’t hold back – sign up for (even more) totally addictive advice
on publicity, self-promotion + sales.

{ 41 comments } Add your comment ...

  1. Wokie |

    Love this, Melissa!
    My theme is ACTION. In 2013, I am committed to more DOING and less watching, waiting & contemplating.

  2. Love this. I’m so in sync with how you are approaching the New Year.

    Each new year’s eve our family tradition is to pick an Angel Card…and take that as the theme of the year. So, inspired by your post to get thinking on this, I chose one today. Getting an early start, my theme for 2013 is ADVENTURE! I’m going to step out of my comfort zone as I find the Adventure in my business and personal life.

    First step: I’m applying to audition for a TV show. Instead of focusing on the sheer terror, I’m enjoying the Adventure and letting go of the outcome. It’s all about the experience here!

    Great post.

  3. Not sure if it’s a theme-or just an overall business model…but I want Celebrity Catwalk to be like Lady Gaga in 2013-high visibility (where relevant) entertaining & engaging!!!!

  4. Sarah |

    Oh, I’d LOVE to enter this contest. By far, my personal theme for 2013 is REFINE. I’d like to refine my program offerings, as a raw food teacher, in addition to my main message, since I have so many different things running around in my programs, my head, my multple websites, it is truly exhausting me. After a year and a half in business I know which direction I want to move in but it is balancing the exising programs and business orientation with where I really want to go.

    Thanks for all your great posts! :-)


  5. Hi Melissa, thanks for this post. I’m gearing up for 2013 and as a multi-passionate gal, you can’t expect me to choose just one word! So mine are WRITE: I’m writing a new home decor book this year which will come out in 2014. My Second word is BRAND: my goal is to pull all of my projects together under one umbrella which is my brand. I’ll stop there. xo Desha

  6. Nikki |

    1. My theme for 2013? EXPAND. I’m looking forward to huge growth in my business!

    2. My favorite system for planning . . . I JUST discovered TeuxDeux – an awesome little app to keep me on track with my task list.

    3. I reward a ‘job well done?’ with a night out with my man — or a night in with a movie. I might expand that next year to include a massage or a facial ;) BLISS!


    :: Nikki

  7. This may sound crazy but my way to reward myself is by cooking. Cooking is my hobby and I’m quite passionate about it. I’ll scour cookbooks (I have about 200) for interesting recipes – and then scheme and plot out the perfect dinner. I can cook almost anything from pho to a great paella. Getting in that kitchen and chopping, sautéing and cooking at the end of the work day is fun and my chance to be creative. (It’s also a perfect stress reliever!) The best part is the meal – we eat very well around here. And that’s the perfect reward for a job well done or a long day at work. :)

  8. My theme for 2013 is Expertise! While many people around the nation want to help with reading, achievement gaps, and literacy, few of them have the credentials or expertise that I do! My goal is to be the “go to” person for urban literacy education!

  9. My theme for 2013 is IDEALS. My goal is to focus on defining my ideal client and her ideal desires. Then I will further curate my jewelry collections to reach these women and help them define their “ideal” personal style.

  10. I have the same theme as you!! My 2013 will be all about creating. I’m officially launching my new website and rebrand, and also creating new programs. I’m committing to a consistent blog filled with wonderful content and helping as many women who struggle with emotional eating as possible. I’m also committed to creating a network of peers that I can help promote and who my clients can benefit from their services too. I have high hopes for a fun and productive 2013.

  11. Niccole |

    1. My theme is explore – I will continue to try new foods and coming from behind my computer to more effectively run my business
    2. My system I will be using is Erin Condrens cute life planner
    3. My rewards vary. For great big accomplishments I go for handbags and smaller feats I keep it simple like Jammie’s a good book and hot green tea.

  12. My theme for 2013 is CREATE. In January we hard launch our book Have Your Cake & Eat It Too, a shiny new website, and energized brand. I want to create buzz around the book, a close-knit digital community, an ebook, and a super-transforming digital program for couples.

    My reward. Restorative yoga, fine chocolate, long walks in the redwood forest with a friend. More massage.

    Planner: Love WorkFlowy. Simple + fluid.

  13. Dylan |

    Hey Melissa!! Great post and way to focus goals – and you always make me laugh!
    1. My theme is GROW! GROW! GROW!
    2. I use Angela Jia Kim’s (Savor the Success) Daily Action Plan. Awesome!
    3. My favorite reward is to watch my guilty pleasure, General Hospital. I always DVR so I can skip those time wasting commercials! (Been watching the show since the 8th grade. They are bring ALL the old 80′s characaters back now so it is especially entertaining!!)
    I hope I win! :)

  14. So funny Melissa, I just created my “word” for 2013 and it’s CREATE (creative minds think alike, no?). :-)
    My go-to planning system has been a combo of a moleskine plain journals + iCal + Asana (my online project/task manager). I do miss the good ‘ol days of paper planning though. I might have to invest in one for 2013 to see if I can re-kindle the romance.
    And ooooh rewards…love this topic. I wish I could say a gold-star was enough, but those days are long gone. Lately I’m favoring, buying a box of my favorite chocolate chai tea, getting a spa treatment, buying a new app for my iPhone, subscribing to (yet another) obscure fashion magazine.
    Love your blog + look forward to seeing what you too CREATE in 2013, yay!

  15. Chivon |

    Great post and contest Melissa! I actually pick more than one word to encompass my theme for the year and for 2013 I selected Vulnerability, Service and Presence.

    I selected Vulnerability and Service because they relate to a renewed focus in my business of giving back to the community through a fundraising initiative and helping people overcome issues with anxiety and self-esteem by getting vulnerable and sharing my own story. Presence relates to taking the time to be present everyday and not get too caught up in the future planning hustle to appreciate daily blessings.

  16. I love your post Melissa.

    I have to think about my theme (or themes) for 2012 but I think it will go like this:

    Bonne Année 2013 to all of you super fabulous Ladies!

    @Nikki; I’m checking out Teux Deux: it’s great, merci!

  17. Jeannine |

    If I answer all of them do I get extra, extra points. I want to get past this virutal land and work with you LIVE and one on one. After The New York Times article that came out this year, I need you girl!

    1. What’s your theme for 2013?

    Integrity- my version…

    Bringing my most sacred ambitions and genuine traits and my whole self to the game.

    2. What is your favorite system for planning?

    re:create Masterclass LIVE in nyc http://www.thersvprev.com the BEST place to work out and create strategy with women LIVE in New York.

    3. How do you like to reward a ‘job well done?’

    A new book!

    Headed off too tweet! You rock.

  18. Amanda |

    My theme is Details. I’m super excited to get back more of my left-brainedness (I just made up a word!) – and move forward in a creatively left-brained way!

  19. Ronii |

    Hi Melissa! This is a very timely post as I’m right in the middle of this planning process as well. My theme for this year is INNOVATE. I’m creating a niche in my industry that wasn’t there before and I plan to use this year to get the word out about what it is. For a planning tools – I do use iCal to keep track of my schedule and tasks go on paper and are checked off. I haven’t found a goal setting tool that I love yet. Then, I’m going to reward myself with a nice bottle of champagne with good friends when I’ve reached my milestones. Here’s to a great New Year for everyone and much success to all of us!

  20. My theme for 2013 is UNPRECEDENTED RESULTS. (my creative self needed two words!!) I love, love, love the practice of picking a word or theme for a year. I have been building and planning my next level of business for a year. Now it is time to usher in the results of all my creating. Thank you for the great resources! Loving the Day Designer – might need to get one of my own!

  21. Jerry Lee |

    My theme of 2013 is all about Branding for myself & my business…

  22. Jamie |

    Hey Melissa, my theme for 2013 is GROWTH. I just started my business in earnest last month and I’ve got big plans. I hope to see growth in my business, in my brand and (most importantly) in my soul. I’m excited to see what the new year will bring!

  23. Ellen |

    My theme for 2013 is ABUNDANCE. I will be focusing on increasing my mental, spiritual and emotional joy and transferring those positive feelings and thoughts into growth and abundance for newly launched business.

  24. Melissa – This is a great idea!

    My 2013 theme: Community
    *Building relationships and community with my ideal clients (female entrepreneurs)
    *Reaching out to super star female business owners for the book I’m writing.
    *Deepening the relationships in my personal and professional community.
    *Giving back

    Favorite planning system
    A cappuccino (or two), a cafe and color pens and paper – planning
    Planner Pad and Evernote – system

    A full day and night off from work. Includes thinking and talking about projects. No technology or notebooks.

    Thanks again.
    I’m going to bring these things to ponder to my mastermind group when we meet in Tahoe in a few weeks.

    Happy Holidays all!

  25. What a great idea!

    1. My theme is Staying Deep + Steeping in the Essence of my one big project. No piecemealies. Everything I do has to orbit around the one big thing.

    2. Favorite system for planning. Using a year at a glance calendar for overall view and then schedule stuff in my project management software to set up reminders and the like.

    3.My rewards are usually spa days or mini shopping spree for new clothes or make up.

  26. Summer |

    My favorite way to reward myself is reading– surfing the internet and following every random aside to my heart’s content. Biggest indulgence is reading totally useless low quality fiction — not that I particularly enjoy it, but the sheer excess gives me thrills. :)

  27. Eliza |

    My theme is TRUST. Trust in myself and in my higher power. Would LOVE your support! xo

  28. This is a fantastic post.
    I plan to REINVENT myself. I was getting too comfortable in my cozy ways and so business wasn’t moving in the right direction. I plan to make huge pivots in 2013 and I’m getting really scared and excited at the same time. So, your rewards piece will come in handy as I walk deeper into my new journey.

    It would be sooo fantastic to have you in my reinventing process.

  29. Jamie |

    I love this! I don’t know if the contest is still open, but I’d love to be entered because I think it could help with my theme of GROWTH.

    I’m getting ready to launch my business and come out as a business instead of just as a freelancer. It’s exciting and I’m so ready to GROW!

  30. Meg |

    My theme for the year is Abundance …

    I’m really loving Leonie Dawsons fab 2013 biz planners – and am also a fan of Mayi Carles Life is Messy Planners/Bootcamp.

    Am not good a rewarding jobs well done … but I do get great satisfaction in ticking things off my to do list.

  31. Alyssa |

    My theme for 2013 is ACTION. Over the past years I’ve bought too many trainings, ebooks, etc and allowed fear to hold me back from implementing what I learned. Well, not anymore – this is the year to own my expertise and put it all into action – launching membership programs, ebooks, ecourses and starting on my book!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  32. Alyssa |

    Just tweeted (@highwireinheels)

  33. Vanessa |

    Love this! My theme for next year is Purpose! So looking forward to an awesome 2013! Thanks for all your awesome work – love reading your posts! Merry Christmas!

  34. Wonderful post! My theme for 2013 will be ORGANIZE! Maybe once I get organized I can really start to create! Thank you for the inspiration!

  35. Kalynn |

    My theme for the year is NURTURE … not just for my family but for me too … to bring up, help develop and grow, and provide with nourishment.

  36. Happy New Year Melissa!
    Hope it’s not too late to enter….
    My theme for this year is ABUNDANCE. I want to live an abundant full life. Abundant financially. Abundant in my business opportunities.
    Since I’m a big Marie Forleo convert, I use her Painted Picture exercise to find out what I want to accomplish this year. Then I put about 10 goals in a yearly calendar to see if I can really make them happen, and then map out every to-do to make those dreams a reality in a Master Task List.
    I try to reward myself as much as possible (being an entrepreneur is hard work;). Mani/Pedis, naps, a glass of really good wine, some amazing chocolate, or a bubble bath make it all worth it!
    All the best in 2013!

  37. Tara |

    Thank you Melissa! My theme this year is BUILD. Would love to win and thank you! :)

  38. My theme for this year is ACCELERATE!
    My planner I am still determining…
    and my reward, I’m hoping for a big one this year, but my smaller ones are always bi weekly mani/pedis!
    Happy New Year and best wishes this year!

  39. The way I reward myself for a job well done is usually by rolling around on the floor with my doggies. I have a Keeshond, a Yorkie, and a Pomeranian. All completely different personalities but they ALWAYS make me feel warm and fuzzy. So, this is usually how I make myself feel better when I’ve had a crappy day too :)

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