notepad pen and list

Frankly, traditional goal-setting and creating New Years resolutions makes me want to hurl.

Only 9-12% of people are successful at keeping their resolutions and most people tend to set goals full of pressure, shoulds and have tos. It’s not a kind way to motivate yourself.

Instead, I prefer inspiring, creativity-expanding exercises to create clarity about what you want and plant the seeds of future creations.

Sounds much more fun, doesn’t it?

I’ve been collecting enlightened future-planning exercises and questions over the years, and it’s high time I share them with you.

My Favorite Year in Review and New Year Planning Exercises


#1 – Write a Letter From Your Future Self.

This exercise, originally called, “The Rest of Your Freakin’ Life,”  comes from John Carlton aka “the most ripped off marketing guru alive.”

Here’s the jist:

  • Write a letter from your future self dated for January 15th one year in the future.

  • In this letter, describe all the amazing things that have happened to you and what your life looks like as if it’s already happened.

  • Be outrageous. Write an impossibly awesome future in every area of your life. Don’t hold back.

  • Set a reminder for yourself to read the letter on that future January 15th date.

I love this exercise for a few reasons:

It feels good to write about the future as if it’s already happened. You get to step into the vision and let it pull you in.

Writing as if it’s already happened means you don’t feel any pressure about creating it. It’s already done. Sweet!

You forget all about what you wrote and simply go on living your life. When January 15th rolls around, you get to read the Letter From Your Future Self and be amazed at what’s unfolded. 

And my future self is so freakin’ kind to me, it’s just beautiful to read her love letter.

#2 – Create Your Most Enjoyable Year Ever

This enlightened Year In Review comes from Michael Neill. 

You identify four categories of tasks in your life (loosely described as those you love, those you like, those you think you should do, and those you want to toss) and explore what would be different if you had the most enjoyable year ever.

Note the powerful distinction between the best year ever and the most enjoyable year. Your best year focuses on how much you accomplish, while your most enjoyable year focuses on how much you enjoy it.

I’ll take life enjoyment over a life of achievement, thank you. Especially knowing that when I enjoy what I do, I’m going to do more and get more results anyway.

You can make a copy of my Google Doc and fill in your answers. 

#3 – 17 Questions to Test the Impossible 

These 17 questions come from the incomparable Tim Ferriss and you can download the PDF from his website.

The point of these questions is to break out of your limitations and explore what’s really possible, without being blocked by what your little mind thinks is possible.

I won’t repeat the entire list of questions here since they’re listed with detailed explanations in Tim Ferriss’ blog post, but these are a few of my favorites:

  1. What if I did the opposite for 48 hours?

  2. If I could only work 2 hours per week on my business, what would I do?

  3. What’s the least crowded channel? Where are my soulmate clients hanging out where no one else is trying to reach them?

  4. What if I couldn’t pitch my product directly?

  5. What if I created my own real-world MBA?

  6. What if I could only subtract to solve problems?

  7. What can I put into place so that I can go completely off the grid for 4-8 weeks?

  8. What would this look like if it were easy and fun?

(By the way, if you want crazy inspiration and support for actually creating the impossible, join me for Michael Neill’s 90 day program, Creating the Impossible. It will change your life, if you jump in.)

#4 – Complete a Year In Review

This past year review also comes from Tim Ferriss. Here’s the jist:

  1. Take out a sheet of paper and create two columns: Negative, Positive.

  2. Go through your last year’s calendar week by week and identify the people, events and commitments that were peak positive or negative experiences. Put them into a category.

  3. Identify the top 20% most powerful positive experiences and schedule them on your calendar for the next year. Make sure you do them!

  4. Identify the top 20% most powerful negative experiences and put them on a Don’t Do Ever! List.

And here are a few more questions to ponder in reviewing your year, from transformative coach, Molly Downs:

  • What did you create or experience?
  • What surprised you?
  • What brings a smile to your face now when you think of it?
  • What did you experience that brought you right here to this very spot?
  • What within you shifted?
  • What changed in the outside world?
  • How do you see yourself moving forward now?
Follow Your Dreams New Years planning exercises

#5 – Explore an Ordinary Day in Your Extraordinary Life

Recently, my friend was feeling indecisive about his career choices. When I asked him my favorite creating-without-limits question, he balked.

“But I want my choices to be realistic. What’s the point of imagining a future that isn’t realistic?” he asked.

What’s the point, indeed!

Our little minds can only imagine what they’ve seen and experienced before, which means we’re creating from past memories and our stories about other people’s achievements. That’s a pretty limited palette to be painting with, when all the colors of the infinite potential rainbow are available. 

As another way of thinking about it, imagine Thomas Edison had limited himself to being “realistic” with his inventions. Light bulbs and movies wouldn’t exist! Not only did Edison dare to create the impossible, he did it again and again despite many failed attempts which seemed to prove his experiments’ impossibility.

Baby, what you think is impossible just ISN’T.

When you explore what you’d do without limitations, you’re no longer blocked from recognizing what you actually want. You’re freed from the need to be “practical” and “realistic.”

Acknowledging what you truly desire opens up the possibility of going for it, whether it looks realistic or not. Then you get to test it out in the real world and discover what practical implementation will take.

So in case you’re one of those Doubting Debbies, I hope you can now see the value of creating without limits.

Without further ado, those questions…

  1. If you could do anything, with no limits – you have more than enough money, time, energy – what would you do?

  2. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

  3. What would you do if you knew it would succeed?

  4. Imagine you’ve made enough money to pay off all your debt, buy all the stuff you want, buy stuff for your loved ones AND you completed all the items on your bucket list. What would your ordinary day look like?

It’s amazing what bubbles up when you give yourself permission to take a fresh look without limitations.

Creating Your Kick Ass Life & Business

Now that we’ve covered the exercises, it’s time to do something with them.

Pick your favorite exercise (or the one you dread) and schedule the time to complete it. Let it inspire you to take action on creating what you truly desire.

Creating your life and business from joy and infinite possibilities is what I do with my clients in 1:1 coaching and with the members of my Play Circle. If you’d like a coach to inspire, disrupt and reflect your journey of a profitable, world-changing business you love, hit me up for a chat and we’ll see what emerges.

You were born for joyful creation, my friend.

Yours in love and play,

Steph