One of the best kept secrets of people who are successful in all areas of their lives—confidence, relationships, parenting, homemaking, work, money, health, etc.—is that they know how to plan. Planning is one of the best skills you can use to create your best life. If your’e not good at planning or have struggled to plan successfully in the past, it’s not because something’s wrong with you, nor is it because you’re not cut out for planning. It’s simply because you have coupled mindset management and processing feelings with planning. When you try to plan without these additional practices, you’ll likely be unsuccessful.
In this podcast, you’ll get a close look at how I use planning to make big changes in my life, and how you can, too. You’ll also get a handful of specific planning tips to help you plan better. If you want to uplevel your planning, this podcast is for you.
Hi there. Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. My name is Natalie Bacon and I’m an Advanced Certified Mindfulness Life Coach as well as a wife and mom, if you’re here to do the inner work and grow, I can help. Let’s get started.
Hello my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so happy to be here with you today talking about how to plan better. I cannot believe that it is the beginning of August already. The last three months have just flown by as we have been adjusting and settling in to life in the Chicago suburbs. We are loving it. I’ll tell you what, if there’s ever a time to move to the Midwest, it is during the summer because it is just absolutely beautiful here we are loving our community. Um, I’ve met so many wonderful friends already and it has been somewhat effortless, which I know isn’t always the case.
Am I right? Meeting new friends, new mom friends as well. And that just hasn’t been my experience here. It’s been really easy, which has been such a gift, particularly with dogs and a toddler and baby number two who will be here any day. So we are gonna be gearing up for that transition and expecting a lot of resistance in that transition. But we’ve also been preparing so much over the last few months for the new baby’s arrival and I’m gonna talk with you a little bit about that today in my process for how to plan better. Because I think that just seeing how I plan, even if it’s not for a new baby for you, it is probably going to be useful because you’ll be able to apply the strategy and some of the tactics to your life as well. But I wanna start off talking about why plan.
Like why should we plan at all? Why not just kind of live life on default and only schedule, you know, an appointment here and there, just so you remember it, why take it to the next level and really plan your life and plan your days? I think it’s a really important question to answer for yourself and I also wanna give you my answer because if you don’t have a good answer to why you should plan, then it’s likely that you will give up on planning because there is some discomfort in becoming something that you’re not. So if you struggle with planning at all right now, or you wanna uplevel your planning or you want to just start planning and you don’t right now, there’s that gap between where you are now and where you want to go. And just like if you wanted to get stronger or lose weight or make any change, there is discomfort in that.
And the way that you keep going is you stay connected to your why. So I think that planning is one of the most important tools to use to live intentionally and to create your best life. I think managing your mind and planning those two tools right there, um, will create so many of the results that that you want. The reason that I think without a plan, it’s really hard to change your life, is because of the way that the brain operates. The brain was designed to keep you alive. This is its primary function, which means that it tries to make sense of what’s up ahead. And the way that it does that is to make predictions and it likes to make predictions based on the past because it knows, hey, we did this thing in the past, it worked out, we’re still alive. Let’s do the same thing in the future because then we’ll still stay alive.
When you decide to do something new and different that you’ve never done before, your brain can’t make those predictions. So that’s where feeling fear and anxiety and uncertainty come up. And if you’re not aware that this is just what’s happening on default with the human brain, you might mistakenly think that something has gone wrong and that you should quit because of that discomfort. When you’re aware of the fact that it’s just your brain doing what all healthy human brains do, you can manage your brain and you can process your feelings and you can still move forward.
I think that in order to create a life that is different from your life right now, planning is one of the best and most beneficial tools to do it. Knowing that you can feel any feeling and it is available to you to become a better planner without planning whatever your life looks like right now, is what your life will likely look like in the future. Because what your life looks like right now is familiar and it’s what you’re committed to. Whatever you weigh right now, that’s what you’re committed to weighing because that’s what your brain is familiar with. So it knows how to do that weight, it knows how to eat, how to drink, how to move in order to create the weight that you currently are. And this applies to any area of your life. So what does your day look like right now without a plan to change it?
Your days will continue to be the same. Now of course there will be some changes that happen based on your circumstances. So if you have kids in, you know, elementary school now and then they move on to junior high or high school, that will present some changes. But those changes come from your circumstances. It’s very reactive and you can kind of see those coming. The change that you want to make for yourself, who you want to become, if you want to yell less, if you want to feel more fulfilled in your life, if you want to have less overwhelm, if you want to lose weight or make more money or have a career transition or whatever it is that you desire for your future, the way that that is possible is through planning.
So just keep in mind that without doing any planning, you will create more of the same. I wanna share with you how just this year I used my planning practices for so much. I think that having an example like this can really make it practical. So you can see how helpful planning can be regardless of the season. So my family and I were all living in Charleston, South Carolina and we decided to move to Chicago. We bought a house remotely in April of this year in Chicago. And I was due am due with baby number two in August. This meant that I was going to do a cross country move while just about 30 weeks pregnant, taking care of my toddler full-time while taking care of my clients and running my business, moving my business to another state, preparing for maternity leave, creating all of that content, getting new, you know, doctors and providers and all of that for the family, including for myself.
Transferring when you’re pregnant is a whole thing in and of itself and all of that. There is no way, no way I would’ve been able to do any of this without heavily relying on planning. I mean, I spent, gosh, one to two hours a week updating my plan every week during this transition. Now this is a bigger transition and normally I don’t spend one to two hours a week on my calendar and planning, but I wanted to use this as an example because it’s the same tactics no matter what kind of season I’m in, whether it’s in the middle of a huge transition like that, or whether it’s just kind of an a normal uneventful season, it’s the same tactics, but I sort of turn on the gas for them when it’s through a bigger transition. So instead of just kind of adding some random things to my calendar and being in the process of making sure everything’s up to date, maybe that takes 20 minutes a week.
I spent a ton of time planning every single week to make sure I was able to do all of these things. And I thought it would be fun to just share with you a snapshot of what I did to plan for my maternity leave in my business. Okay? So this is just one of the things that I listed and it took me months of preparation to get this all done so that the business could continue to run and operate, um, at the level of excellence that I always want it to. I always wanna take care of my clients. I even want to take care of the people who don’t pay me, right? I want all my marketing to continue. I um, you know, you’ll hear in this list continued the podcast. I know that a lot of people who go on maternity leave, um, don’t do that and that is totally fine.
It’s really a personal decision, but for me, the way that I did it for my first son and the way that I’m doing it for my second son has just really, um, allowed me to take excellent care of my business, my clients, all of you listening, and I wanna keep it that way. So I wanna share with you how planning really is the way that I was able to do this. So here is just a snapshot of what I did to plan for maternity leave. I wrote out a massive list of all of the things that would need to be done. So this list included a content category, eight blog posts, eight Thursday inspo emails, eight podcasts, then an email marketing category, marketing emails for August, September and October. Then a Grow You category. I needed to create two monthly classes, eight Sunday start emails, 30 mindful messages, eight sets of mantras and eight sets of journal prompts, and create two months of additional call schedules and listed below each of these items.
I put down the month that I wanted to work on each of these tasks. So for eight blog posts, I put four in March and four in April for the eight podcasts I had four in May and four in June. And under each kind of item I put down when I was going to work on and complete the kind of tasks that I needed to complete. And then what I did was every single month I would go in and add the specific item to a specific week and I would put it in a specific slot. Okay? And so keep in mind that this is while continuing to run my business, take care of my clients, move across the country and be with my toddler full-time. I knew that the only way I was able to complete all of this and do all of this would be through strategically and carefully and meticulously planning.
Otherwise, there’s no way any of it would have been able to get done. And I’m very proud to say that I was successful in getting it all done. It did require me working on weekends and I was totally okay with that. It was really worth it to me. That’s just something that, um, for me as a business owner, if I want to have time for maternity leave, then that’s fine. My clients are taken care of and I can take care of my baby, right? Everyone wins. So I share that with you as kind of um, a unique transition where I just made this up, right? And I want you to think about your life. If you have a transition coming up, like maybe it’s kids going back to school, what are all of the things that you need to help them with or do for them or whatever it is?
Make a list. Put that list on your calendar. Do not operate from the list. Just use the list. Kind of get everything from your brain onto paper. That is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. You don’t want your brain full of things that it needs to remember to do. It’s just sort of a waste of brain energy. You wanna be thinking about other things that are more important to you, not kind of remembering to dos. So I always tell myself the thought, my brain probably isn’t going to remember this. I need to put it down somewhere on the calendar, on paper somewhere. So I don’t rely on my brain to remember things like, um, lists. I make the list and then I move it to the calendar so that I’m not even operating off of the list.
It was really helpful for me to break down each of these kind of tasks and projects into specific weeks and months. And for you, it might be just that you’re doing something for one week and you want to break it down daily. Be flexible with how you’re planning, but be consistent and fail forward. What I mean by that is, I just made this up, okay, and it worked really well, but I was very kind of in the plan. I was paying attention to it. I was looking at is this working as I was going along? If it wasn’t working, I wouldn’t have continued the plan. I would’ve switched something up. So I like to say, test and find out. Give it a try. Give whatever process that you’re doing a try and see if it works for you. If it doesn’t work for you, you wanna make some change.
I often think that my commitment and ability to plan is one of the skills that gives me an edge in creating the life that I want. And the best news that I have for you is that you can do this too. It’s not an innate trait that I have or something. It is a skill that I continue to get better at because I value it so much. I know that there is no way I could have gone through the last six months without planning no way, at least not in the way that I wanted to, taking care of my family, my home, not losing my mind, taking care of my business, my clients, you. I don’t wanna miss a podcast. And that required such a high level and commitment to planning. But like any new skill, your brain isn’t going to be a huge fan at first.
Remember, the brain wants to do what it’s always done. So if you are used to having a long to-do list, if you are used to not planning, if you are used to telling yourself the story, I always struggle with planning. I’m not a good planner. Your brain would actually prefer to continue to do that even though it’s not getting the results you want because your brain feels safer, it feels secure with doing more of the same. This is why I mentioned earlier, brain management combined with planning is so powerful because all of us right now could go to the Googles and search planning tips and we could learn some how-tos. And I’m all for a new how to. But really where my work comes in as a coach and where you will get the most transformation isn’t in the tactics. It’s in strengthening the mindset and the belief in yourself and your ability to plan so that you can continuously try new tactics to find the best how for you to find the best calendaring system for you.
So for this second half of the podcast episode, I wanna give you some planning tips that I think will really help you plan better that you probably can’t get from a blog post if you just were searching or you probably wouldn’t hear about, um, kind of from anyone who’s just giving you some some random planning tips. These are tips that I think will go a little bit deeper and really help you transform into a better planner. Planning Tip number one, take ownership of your day and of your life. This means don’t blame your current circumstances on why you’re too busy or why you can’t plan. So for example, blaming your kids’ schedules and how unpredictable they are on why you can’t have a plan. Don’t do that. It’s so tempting to do. The problem with that is then you can’t become better at planning. If there is a problem outside of your control, then you can’t solve it.
And when it comes to your time, you always have a choice. This is so important for you to see and for you to truly believe. It might be that you want to have a completely full schedule right now and it’s full of your kids’ activities, and that’s okay, but that’s what you want. Don’t tell yourself the lie that you want something different. Tell yourself the truth, which is I’m taking ownership of how I spend every single minute, every single second, every single hour of my time. I was coaching someone recently and she said, I’m struggling with how to approach my time knowing there are several competing priorities and not feeling guilty, taking time for myself. And I find this to be such a common challenge that women go through, I think particularly women, particularly moms as well. I can definitely relate to this. And this is where the mind management comes into play.
It’s remembering that everyone in the family is worthy of being cared for and that includes you as mom. So in this client’s example, she listed out all of the circumstances surrounding her kids and all of the activities that they had going on. And again, I can totally relate to this and before you know it, it just feels kind of out of control with your calendar. And what you wanna do is take the control back and decide that it may mean fewer activities for the kids. And that’s where working through that guilt is so important because otherwise what happens is you end up feeling so depleted, so exhausted, and so miserable because you’re not allocating any time or attention to care for yourself.
And I think it’s one of the biggest problems in modern motherhood is this kind of sense that we just need to ignore our own humanness, our own needs, our own need of taking care of ourself and not just at a basic level, but at a fulfillment level as well. Of course we need to eat and sleep and shower, but also what do you want to grow into into the next phase of your life? What are you interested in? In the same way that you ask your kids, what are you interested in? What activities do you wanna do? Ask yourself that and treat yourself just like you are caring for someone in your family. Because so often I think we treat other people in our family better than we treat ourselves. And you will get so much more ownership over your time when you see yourself as valuable and as worthy of spending time on.
Planning Tip number two, decide to believe you are a good planner. Who you’ve been in the past doesn’t matter at all. So if you say something like, I’ve always been bad at planning, maybe, but is that really relevant? Who do you want to be in the future? Start visualizing and practicing being the person you want to become with respect to planning as your future self. This is how you change your identity. When you change your identity first, your actions are much easier to change. See your yourself as someone who successfully plans. If you are inside Grow, You use the
Mindful Journaling process for this. You can truly create future self memories by journaling about who you want to become daily. And it doesn’t take a lot of time. It can be five minutes, you can do this, but you’re training your brain to look to your future instead of your past and to see yourself in the way that you want to see yourself.
Planning. Tip number three, start with one thing and start small. Zero to one is the hardest. So instead of trying to go all in on planning and completely overhaul your planning system, start with planning one additional thing on your calendar. For example, maybe you want to start meal planning every day, or maybe you want to start exercising daily, or maybe you want to start planning all of your kids’ activities daily. What is it that you can realistically start planning that gets you from zero to one? A lot of times I’ll see my clients want to just do the whole overhaul at once and it’s sort of like, you know, um, being in the habit of eating pretty unhealthy diet and then just saying, okay, starting tomorrow, I’m not eating any carbs, any sugar, any alcohol, any fried food, and kind of going cold turkey to make this huge change.
And you can do that. It’s just harder to manage your mind around because your body still will be in the habit of desiring the old way. And so there’s a lot of discomfort that comes with making those changes. So if you can make smaller changes one at a time, the discomfort isn’t so extreme and you can still process the discomfort that you experience, but it won’t be as hard or challenging, which means you’ll be more likely to do it.
Planning. Tip number four, believe that time is on your side. Think about your relationship with time. If time could talk, what would it say about your relationship? Are you kind to time or are you always blaming time? Do you tell other people that your time is not enough? What you believe about your time is what you’ll look for and what you’ll create more of. So if you want more time, start by appreciating your time right now. This requires slowing your mind way down, coaching yourself, getting coached and saying nice things about time. For example, I’m so glad I’m alive right now and I get to experience time. I’m grateful I’ve created a full life. Time is happening for me. I am in charge of my time. I can always do more or do less. It’s up to me. I’m the decider of how I spend my time. No one else is.
Really use the tools that we have inside Grow You, particularly if you’re in there to come up with thoughts that feel good to you, that you can practice actually inside Grow You this month I’m teaching a brand new class called Time Redesigned and you will learn how to use planning to live your best life and make your dreams come true. And this includes stop being busy, stop under scheduling and overscheduling, stop people pleasing, stop using a to-do list. How to use a digital calendar, how to create a vision and plan for your life first and then a plan for your day. How to avoid time-wasters like confusion and indecision. How to add rules or constraints to your life to make it easier to plan and so that your plan feels more aligned and more fulfilling with who you’re becoming.
This is the best class I’ve ever created on time management, planning and productivity, and I want you to have it. So head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching. Join Grow You. You will get this class right when you join and you can really start changing how you plan. And then you can come to me and I will coach you inside, grow you on your specific challenges. You get one-to-one access to me through Ask a Coach, as well as through the group coaching calls. I do all of the coaching in inside Grow You. And I want you to become the planner that you want to be so that you can create the life that you want to create. Okay, I have two more planning tips for you.
Planning tip number five, stop buying new planners. You do not need another planner. You need a plan. A new planner just gives you a false sense of planning, but it’s actually just a purchase. It’s a dopamine purchase. Planning requires you to spend $0. Planning requires you to feel to discomfort. That is why it’s hard to plan, but I promise you it’s so simple and doable when you combine mindset management with the tactical, practical how-tos of planning and processing feelings. If you’re willing to do those three things, you can plan your future. Now, as a caveat, and I’m sure you know this, but I like to say it because it sounds sometimes like I’m saying, you can control the world. You cannot control the world with planning. There will be circumstances that happen that are unforeseen. And it’s not that a plan kind of changes that. It’s just that you are now equipped to navigate challenges in a much better, more empowered way.
Planning Tip number six, when you make a planning mistake, learn from it and create a new plan. This is so important. I find that for most people who I’ve coached, when they make a planning mistake, they use it against themselves. And they say things like, see, I’m so bad at planning. This isn’t worth it. Do you do this? I can relate to this. It seems like the mistakes that we make reinforce the limiting belief we have about ourselves. That’s why doing the belief work about who you want to become is so important because then you won’t buy it when your brain tells you, see, I’m so bad at this. Use the information, the mistakes, the failures, the getting it all wrong to grow into your future, to learn from it. Train your brain to expect mistakes with planning. But also remember that making the same mistake multiple times is a decision.
So learn from your mistakes. Try something new the next time. So for example, if you plan to have self-care scheduled every Monday at noon, let’s say you have a massage, but after one month of trying this, you realize that you only actually got a massage one Monday out of the last month because of childcare challenges or work meetings that got rescheduled. Whatever it was, you canceled three of those massages. Don’t continue to plan massages on Mondays at noon. Try something different but do so with a more informed critical mindset. Learn why it didn’t work. Ask yourself when you’re least likely to be interrupted due to work calls and childcare or come up with other solutions for either. Basically you want to come up with solutions for the obstacles in your plan. There are always more obstacles and there will always be more opportunities for you to come up with solutions for those obstacles.
And I like to think of this as a muscle that you can really flex and get stronger if you expect and plan for little hiccups and mistakes and failures. You can also expect yourself to come up with solutions and be really solution focused instead of problem focused. And then you continue to try that next solution. Not thinking that it’s the aha, jackpot, but that it’s just the next thing you’re going to try. And in this way, planning then becomes more consistent, more predictable and less of like big waves of joy or the opposite of disappointment. It’s not high highs and low lows, it’s sort of, um, kind of the the middle of the road. But it’s for your long-term contentment and satisfaction. And I promise you, mindset management, planning, processing feelings, when you put those tools in your tool belt, you can create any future that you truly desire. And I want that for you. I want that so much for you, my friend. Come on inside, grow you and I will show you the way. Take care.
If you loved this podcast, I invite you to check out Grow You my mindfulness community for moms where we do the inner work together. Head on over to nataliebacon.com/coaching to learn more.