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Planning it Out

Feb 27, 2024 | Generalities, How-To

Life can be busy beyond imagination. We can get stuck in the mode of just making it from one day to the next. There may be moments we are able to come up for air. Moments we feel everything is caught up and then we get bogged down again. I have had many of those moments throughout my life. Those moments everything was going well and then I would get hit with a new list of things that needed to be done. Each of these moments is part of a season. When I worked full time in outdoor ministries there was the summer season and the retreat season. Both were busy and fun but they were also very different. The summer was this blur of activity. It was energized, loud, fun, crazy, spiritual, and so much more. The retreat season was all those things as well but in smaller waves depending on the group or activity happening. Retreat season had a different rhythm. Each season was amazing and created a balance in my life. As the season moved forward I learned that to be successful, maintain my energy (and sanity), and to be able to be fully present I need to plan. I needed to be intentional on programming and scheduling out my time to create the best experience possible for all who came to join in each season.

Planning and organizing are not in everyone’s wheelhouse. Some of us love it and thrive on it and others cringe at the thought of figuring out all those small details.

Some of us are more the dreamers who hand off the ideas to the planners. No matter what your role is, we all still need to help a bit to be intentional in our programming to avoid burnout and create successful and meaningful programs. So how do you do this? One of the other hats I wear in life is with Peer Ministry Leadership. In this role I get to specifically work with the PLAN-IT resource. Through this resource we assist groups in planning out their year, or longer, with their goals for programming special events, vacations (don’t forget to recharge), and general activities.

Here are a few quick tips I can share with you that I’ve learned over the years. Please know this is written as just a highlight and doesn’t include all the fine details!

  1. Take a day to sit down with a blank piece of paper to dream out the year. This is best done outside the office so you don’t have interruptions. If you work on a program team, do this as a team! Write down all the program dreams you would like to see happen. This is the time to dream big.
  2. Prioritize the dream list. What are you already doing? What ones can easily become a reality and which ones need more time to become a reality? How would the new dreams play into the overall program you are trying to achieve?
  3. Take your calendar and map out these dreams. As your mapping, make sure dreams aren’t back to back in order to give yourself time to rest, recharge, and regroup. Pay attention to what each dream consists of so there aren’t two dreams in a row that are similar.
  4. Once you have the initial plan mapped out. Sleep on it. Invite others to take a look and just let it simmer. Always keep in mind that plans can change and it is important to be flexible….especially when working with so many other people.
  5. Once your calendar is set it is time to get super organized. Create a document/checklist for each dream and backtrack what needs to be done. What are the big and small details? How early can they be completed? What details can you enlist a fellow staff member or volunteer to manage? Remember it takes a team to be successful and decrease burnout. Lean on one another and use one another’s gifts.

Remember, Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. As hard as it can be to take a day to plan and organize, it can set you up for a smoother year. Take the time to dream, map it out, add in your own time to re-energize, enlist help, enjoy the dream evolving, and don’t forget to give yourself grace during this process. The great thing about planning out a year in advance and taking the time to document each event is the next time it is held (if it was epic and you want to do it again) there is a guide to build off of and grow from. Happy planning friends. Dream big!


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