Hola gorgeous ones,
Every single year for the last five years, I’ve had a New Year planning party sometime in December and January.
It’s been one of the most transformational tools of my life.
There is NOTHING that will change the route of your life and business more than sitting down, getting clear on your intentions and what you want to make happen, and writing it all down.
This shit is life-changing and miracle inducing. It will bring more joy, creativity, life and your dreams to you.
Right now, you are standing before a huge white canvas. The year that is ahead of you.
What picture do you want to emerge from it over the next year?
What unseen miracles inside you do you want to pull out and make seen and real and true?
This is the work of crafting, dreaming forth and calling to you the miracles, the life, the business that is awaiting you.
How I Do My Planning
I’ve been asked how I do my planning for both my life and business.
I’ll do a roundup of all the planning parties I’ve had over the last five years, and share what I’m doing this year to plan and how I use my own 2014 Create Your Amazing Year in Life and Business workbooks.
You’ll see all the workbooks over the years, how I’ve filled them out, and what effect they’ve had on my life and business.
Ahhh, the very first year of creating the workbook! It came to me like a streak of light one week before Christmas, 2009 and it poured out of me over a few days. I originally created it just for me to use, but ended up sharing it with the world, thinking it might be helpful for a dozen other people or so. Instead it raced like a wildfire and became wildly popular. Unexpected. But completely lovely.
I filled out my own workbook in our little alpine city courtyard backyard one dry December summer, when the only things that were blooming were our cacti.
That, and my belly.
I was pregnant with Ostara. Had a six month full moon pregnant belly.
Funny how the wheel changes. How I’m in that same place again with another six month full moon pregnant belly. With another little girl mermaid swimming around in my depths, choosing to spend her time mostly breech at this point just as Ostara did. But that’s a story for later. And not really something to worry about at this point, not when there are magical acupuncture needles and the lit end of a blackened moxa stick that can (probably) fix that. Grace and faith can fix that too.
But I’m getting away from myself. There I was.
With my devout innie becoming an Extreme Outie. Garnished with a mole I have lovingly called Tiny Tim, a companion I’ve carried with me these last three decades. What a blessing that I’ve had my very own little friend! I must admit though, Tiny Tim is usually a hermit who lives inside his cave. It’s only during pregnancy that he pulls a Punxsutawney Phil and emerges into the world. He hasn’t made any weather predictions though. Except for “Farrrrrrrk… it’s hot!”
Christmas and summer in tropical, steamy, humid rainforested northern Australia is a sweaty procession. Combine that with pregnancy and you’ll find me and Tiny Tim surviving only by the grace of our slushee maker and positioning beneath the beloved aircon.
But again, I digress. What a surprise to find myself digressing! You should be groovy with it by now, right?
I remember when I was writing that workbook how I felt.
We were going through some uncomfortable life stuff at the time.
And I knew that with the birth of my daughter, something big was about to happen. That I was going to undergo an immense initiation, and that it wouldn’t be easy.
So most of the things I wrote in there were love reminders to myself.
What to do when things got hard. How to give myself good self care.
Because, yes indeedy, my intuition was in tune. It was hard. A sensitive wee babe that needed a lot of my energy in order to feel right in the world. Moving across the countryside, quitting jobs. Family divorces and conflict. Post-natal depression and anxiety (or as I like to call it: a legitimate response to everything that was happening.) It was absolutely a dark night of the soul for me, one that held powerful medicine, lessons and wisdom for me and was also difficult to experience.
My 2010 workbook ended up being a touchstone over the next year, the thing I could turn to again and again to reorientate myself.
And much later in the year, when I felt like I’d lost my joy de vrie, I went back to my workbook. To remember what it was my soul wanted to call forth. To remember that I had a beautiful life once before and I could make it good and true and peaceful and beautiful again.
When 2010 had me down on my knees, a big part of my healing process was taking myself off to the cafe with my workbook, and re-reading the words there.
So that’s what was scribed into my 2010 book of dreams. The medicine and the love letters that would get me through. That would help me through the initiation and emerge out the other side even more of myself.
(Also: I’ve always put my workbooks into a two-ring binder. Until this year when I fell in love with the big glossy printed book edition instead.)
I like that these photos always have my love around or in the edges. I’m very grateful for the fact that he’s always been by my side. Through thick and thin. Through dark nights of the soul and so many dreams come true too.
We planted some seeds that day too. The perfect thing for a New Year.
One of my main 2010 wishes was to get through the next year, and to remember I was Leonie.
And that’s just what I did.
BAM! Look at that!
A year later, we had a baby!
And we’d moved across the countryside, and were living in the town I was born in northern Queensland. As you can tell, it was a lot greener and lusher than living in the alpine city! Also: we had a backyard! That was big enough to call a backyard!
Funny story: that pen that my ridiculously adorable baby daughter is chewing on?
Is the same brand of pen I’ve been using ever since because it’s amazing and rad. It’s the Bic Four Colour Pen in “Fashion” colours: turquoise, purple, pink and lime green. The lime green kind of sucks because you can’t really see it, and I think we should all stage a revolt to demand they make it something else, but the other three colours are so perfectly sublime that I cannot and will not let go of this pen.
And hilariously enough, lots of you – my tribe of goddess women – have the same pen.
And we all end up using the same pen to fill out our workbooks.
This makes me so happy. More happy than it would ordinarily make the average person. But I am a bonafide stationery freak. So: yes indeedy, it makes me karaaazy happy.
Anywaysies, by this time, I was starting to slowly come back to myself, and I was pretty damn insistent that 2011 would be better, much much better.
I’d worked out by this stage that I needed to give myself a break, and stop beating myself up as a mama, and start accepting that I am a Creative Rainbow Mama. I was already underway on a massive healing journey to help me overcome the physical and emotional toll that a huge year that 2010 had been, with personal counselling, relationship counselling, eastern medicine (intuitive healing, naturopathy, bushflower essences) and western medicine.
I have to laugh at these photos. Because I know how it felt going through this time, and how it seems at odds with the joy in these photos.
And it isn’t. It’s not incongruency, and I wasn’t being fake when I smiled.
I was still a happy, laughing, optimistic Leonie even through my own personal dark night.
I adored my daughter beyond the world. I knew whole of heart she was the daughter I always knew I’d have. That I would sacrifice anything to have her. I knew I was blessed for an extraordinary range of reasons. My business brought me great joy. I knew I was living my soul’s purpose.
And at the same time,
I just knew that things could be better. That I wasn’t feeling as radiant as I could be. That I wasn’t as happy as I wanted to be.
It’s like holding heaviness in one hand, lightness in the other.
That something was out of wack.
And so I’d do the things that needed to be done to make it good again.
So we had a picnic in the backyard and I wrote about my 2011 dreams.
Filled it up with goodness. Inspiration and ideas of what we hoped and longed for.
Promised myself over and over that we’d make 2011 really, really good for us.
And so we did.
This time, I put my workbook in a binder I called “The Book of Leonie” – it was filled with not just the workbook, but emails and oracle card readings and foolscap paper. It became my mobile office!
I included pictures that made me feel supported and headed in the right direction. I took that book with me EVERYWHERE that year!
That’s the thing with the workbooks, and with having an incredible life. It’s not about everything being perfect. It’s not about ignoring the fact that sometimes, things happen. Things that cause us a great and deep amount of pain and grief. As they say – the moments that are AFGO (Another Fuc*ing Growth Opportunity).
I’m not about eradicating AFGO’s and difficult times, or ignoring their very existence. They happen to us to enable us to evolve, and learn deep medicine and lessons. We emerge out the other side even more of who we are, as long as we can stay faithful to our path and our spirits. It takes shitloads of work, effort, self-responsibility and dedication to growth, but it’s worth it.
So just like that, devoted to my healing path and to making 2011 good and fun and beautiful, that’s what we did.
I healed, and got back to inner balance again.
And it felt like all the times I’d risen to meet the challenge – I was met back with so much goodness and joy.
One of my big wishes in my 2011 workbook was to have a posse of women friends again.
I scribed it over and over in that book of mine…
Make more women friends
Connect with a women’s circle
Have more fun times with women
And they came rushing in… a posse of women who met with a cataclysmic bang of goodness, and who were inseparable.
I smile when I think of what is to come for this Leonie, sitting out in the garden with her baby and her love, writing down her earnest wishes.
Just wait and see, Leonie…
There’s this bunch of women who are smart and funny and creative and kind
and they’ll lift you up and you’ll spend impossible hours running in to each other at cafe’s,
holding spontaneous circles in the dirt, just glee-ing in the essence of happiness.
It was good. It was better than good.
They made 2011 shine like the shiniest of sparks.
And they emerged from my pen.
On the business planning front, I hadn’t written the Business edition of the workbook yet. But I knew there was something in me that wanted to be born. I knew that the workbook planning made such a massive difference in my life, and I knew I could apply the same results to my business with having that kind of devoted reflection and energy.
So I started carting myself off to the park for what I called a “business attunement.” I asked myself lots of questions about what was working in my business, what wasn’t, where I wanted to head, what goals I wanted to achieve and what I needed to do to get there.
I wrote it all down on foolscap paper, and turned it into a plan that I referred back to over and over during the year, crossing off each piece as I achieved it. The papers became very lovingly dog eared and worn. And they made a HUGE difference.
Those questions and that process ended up forming the backbone of the Business edition of the workbook.
A year later, a baby grows into a long-limbed toddler.
And we sit in the garden, with plants we’d planted just starting to grow strong.
That day tropical storms brewed over us.
My hair was gone, having been removed by the great transformation and sheddening in my life, my initiation complete. An outer reflection of my inner change.
I was light of heart.
At the beginning of 2012, my goals and dreams were really about solidifying a good, happy, wonderful life for me and my family. I had no idea what was ahead of us, but it didn’t matter.
I knew my dreams would come true.
And they did. I just had no idea that it would take two moves in order to emerge out the other side, into the house and life of our dreams. Sometimes, that’s just what dreams take.
It became a ridiculously momentous and glorious kind of year. One with so many dreams come true that I feel a little bit breathless and a big amount grateful.
I was utterly transformed by it – here’s the before and after pictures of 2012.
We ended up leaving my hometown after realising it was no longer our dream or a place that served us.
And we jumped into a whole new dream – we moved to beautiful Cairns. We rented an incredible treehouse.
And ended up buying the most amazing house on an acreage in the rainforest. It honestly just feels like so much of a dream still at how our life changed during 2012!
My tiny little business soared into a half million dollar a year company that served so many wonderful women around the world.
We became even happier, more settled and more together as a family. We adored our new place, and I found a tribe of women and kids that were a really beautiful fit for me and Starry.
And every day, I became even more of myself.
I guess this is the thing. I am so grateful that every year I write down my dreams, what is inside me that wishes to be born.
It means I don’t forget myself.
That even when the waves grow big and threaten to crash overboard, I can still set my own course.
I don’t forget who I am. I remember what makes me happy. I remember what I need to do to be joyful and fulfilled. I make my blessed, beautiful dreams come true, and go out into the world to help the souls who need to be helped.
And it always works out. Always.
On the business planning front, I ended up taking a huge leap of faith and paying for one of my team members to fly from the US to Australia for two weeks of business planning. You can read more about how I did that here. It was such a shift to go from planning all on my own to doing it actively with someone else, and I found it so very useful!
I rented an office nearby (as I didn’t have a space of my own at that stage to work – I was still working up trees and on park benches which totes makes me laugh!) and we filled it with giant Post-it note paper and rainbow marker pens.
And we went through the same questions and tools again, added to them, and ended up with a 2012 Business Plan.
I typed it all up, turned it into a PDF and had it printed out, spiral bound and gave it to all my team members.
Here’s what it looked like:
I’m not precious about keeping my workbooks and plans in mint condition… I go back, add writing, highlight and cross off.
It’s very much a living document.
And it WORKS. Holy dinger does it work. My business has doubled or tripled in size every single year… and doing this kind of planning is an incredibly important part of doing that.
I filled out most of my workbook in my beautiful new office in my dream home in 2013.
What an amazing thing to FINALLY have an office of my own to work and dream in.
I did my usual technique: filled out my workbook in a three ring binder with my usual pen.
Only thing different was I’d compiled all the questions and tools I used in my own business planning to create the Business Edition of the 2013 Create Your Amazing Year workbook and planner.
I flew over one of my team members from the US again to work through it together and we had an awesome time really diving deep and reflecting on the questions, and creating the plan for the coming year in the business. I’ve shared more about this in this article: How Planning Retreats Made Me Go Pro.
I filled out the Business edition on paper, we also wrote into it digitally (you can find out how to do that here!)
And then once it was all over, I put together all the answers so I could distribute hard copies to my team again.
I use Mimeo to print them, and have been really happy with the quality.
Note: you don’t need to create an extra PDF unless you have a team that you want to have a full printed copy of your business plan.
Otherwise you can just give them copies of your filled out workbook!
I’m pretty amazed at where this workbook has taken us… we’re now close to being a million dollar a year company (!!!!) and the business has continued to prosper and bloom despite me being a bundle of nausea and hurl for the last six months.
This year, I’ve broken from tradition… we ended up producing our first printed book this year… and once I saw it in full gorgeous lush colour and size, I knew my ring binder days were probably over.
I’m so delighted with how it turned out… way more beautiful than I imagined possible!
I’ve been filling it out in quiet moments while I’m feeling well. It usually takes me a couple of weeks, and I always aim to have it finished before the end of January. Just because deadlines are useful for me to make sure that things get COMPETEDO.
This is what our acreage looks like most of the year – wildly green and fertile. Especially right now during tropical wet season. The grass grows so quickly and thickly that it’s Chris’ part time job to keep it mowed short (to try and deter the pythons from hanging out in the long grass!)
That’s one of our “bonus pets” that came with this house. I love that when we moved in, we inherited a new family of pets… nine pademelons, a few Pretty Faced Wallabies, two large lace monitors (goannas), hordes of birds and two very sweet, friendly turquoise coloured kingfishers who reside on Starry’s swingset.
And this is the view from where we were sitting.
This does not suck at all.
A portrait by the talented Starry 🙂
A portrait of the talented Starry. Isn’t it amazing how much she’s changed and grown over the course of these planning parties?
It’s a staple of our year… spend some time outside, all hanging out in the green, me and my love and our girl and our dogs.
Starry took this photo of Angel nosing up to us as we lounged.
I’m still handwriting everything with my favourite pen.
Starry begged to take this photo of Grandmother moon. It’s still one of her favourite things in the world.
This year, it wasn’t the right time to do a face-to-face business planning retreat with one of my team again for a few reasons:
- I’m still sick with good ole hyperemesis gravidarum (I KNOW! STILL! BLERK! 7 WEEKS TO GO!)
- On top of that, because I’ve been sick the last six months, a lot of the business systems and operations goals I had for 2013 didn’t get finished.
- Plus, as we did some HUGE growth over the last year, I went through what most business women experience at some point: the team that will take you to one level of your business won’t be the same team that can take you to the next level of business. I ended up needing to find a new team that were the new right fit for the company and my soul’s growth. It wasn’t easy, but it was deeply necessary. I’ve learned so much from it and I’m so excited by all the bright lights that will be supporting the company over the next year.
So instead I’ve been doing business planning in the quiet cool of my recording room (it’s under our house and is air-conditioned). I talk about it with my hunky love who is a director in the company, and have done big reflection and planning sessions over Skype with my team as well.
The plan is pretty much finished now, so I’ll be popping together another PDF to distribute to my team again. And scrawl and highlight and dog-ear all over again and again.
Because the more I get intimate with my business plan, the faster my goals come true, and the more easily I keep my business on the right course.
And just for a celebration of five years, I thought I’d pull out all five workbooks. 2010 and 2011 are in one ring binder. My 2011 business plan scrawlings from that first time I started scribing down questions, reflections, plans and actionables are all on foolscap paper in that ring binder. My 2012 and 2013 PDF versions of the workbook for my team. My 2014 printed workbook. And once the team business plan document is printed off, it’ll join the collection.
It’s pretty amazing really, to look back over five years and see just how much my life and business has changed from using them.
How much has it changed?
Answer: A FUCKTONNE.
I feel like I’m no longer held hostage by the course of life.
I’m the one who sails my ship now. Who crafts the course of where I want to go in my life and business.
I don’t think I could have imagined back in 2010 just how much our lives and my business would change and grow and bloom over the course of five yearly workbooks. This life and business I have now is beyond my wildest dreams. So I have to keep dreaming bigger and bigger. Turning up, doing the work, and shining my light as bright as I can in the world.
I’m so deeply grateful they flew down out of the sky one Christmas four years ago, and told me:
Pick up your pen, start writing and painting. Now. We’ll tell you what to write.
And so I did.
They’ve gone on to help so many beautiful souls to navigate difficult paths in their life, and also to navigate their easy paths too, to make their lives and businesses rejoice with dreams come true.
They’ve helped me remain true to my spirit and my soul and my biggest, deepest, dearest vision.
And sitting here, in this land that feels like one big glorious dream come true, I can’t tell you how good it feels. What a difference it has made.
Miracles come this way.
with so much love,