It’s common practice over New Year’s to make resolutions and goals for your year. But did you know that most resolutions only last three to four months according to Forbes Health?

Mark and I have used advanced decision-making for quite a few years now to help plan out the upcoming year and set our priorities and goals! This isn’t a common part of setting a New Year’s resolution, but it takes our goals and turns them into something practical. We’ve found this to be far more effective in helping us actually reach our resolutions.

This is something both of us are really passionate about, as it affects every aspect of our lives, from our finances to our time for each other on our calendar.

(Prefer to listen to something on this topic? We have a whole episode about it on the No More Perfect Podcast!)

What is Advanced Decision-Making?

Advanced decision-making is a decision about how you are going to operate with a boundary, principle, or priority that helps you make future decisions. For instance, while we had little ones at home I decided in advance that I would speak no more than two times in a month. Those speaking engagements would also not conflict with any of our family events or major school events. Once I knew we had committed to this advanced decision, I called our kids’ schools to find out the dates of all the major events, like homecoming or a school play, so I could get them on our calendar and blocked off.

An advanced decision can also be a determination of something that you are going to put on your calendar to commit to ahead of time. Mark and I decided to prioritize exercise and we determined how many days per week we would commit to doing that together. Once that decision was made, onto our calendar it went!

Whether you use advanced decision-making to operate with a principle or priority or to determine something you are going to commit to in advance, you’ll want to be certain to evaluate them quarterly. This is for a few reasons: First, our lives and schedules tend to shift with the seasons. What might have been good for a previous season may not work for this one. Secondly, it’s to check to be sure you are able to meet your commitment.

Don’t be afraid to change something up if it just flat out isn’t working!

How to Use Advanced Decision-Making

The shift to advanced decision-making is a fairly easy process; all it takes is a little intentionality and planning to determine the advanced decisions you want to make. We even have a free tool to help you plan ahead. You can grab our FREE “Our Plan” Worksheet to help you plan out living your priorities, which will help you walk through your goals and values for the next year, 10 years, and your bucket list to help decide what advanced decisions you should make.

The key areas of our lives that we’ll want to make advanced decisions about are our spiritual life, our personal life, and our marriage. Here are just a few of the advanced decisions you might make regarding these areas:

  • How are you going to prioritize your relationship with God throughout the year?
  • When is the best time of day to spend in prayer? Can you block that out in your calendar?
  • Do you have a hobby you’d like to invest in?
  • What special events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc…) do you need to plan to observe?
  • How often will you spend time together as a family?
  • In what ways will you invest in your marriage this year? Each month? Each week?

There are many additional areas of your life in which you might use advanced decision-making from prioritizing friendships to how you handle household responsibilities, finances, and more!

Once you have determined your goals in these areas, you can decide how you are going to commit to them throughout the year or make a boundary to protect those priorities. We like to use a digital calendar to schedule events throughout the year and reserve that time. Yest that means that right now we have most of these advanced decisions already on our calendar through December 2024!

(Advanced decision-making can also help you consider the financial implications to achieve your goals. If you’re prioritizing an annual trip with your closest friends, you’ll be able to plan your finances accordingly to make sure that can happen.)

This is a powerful tool because it allows us to say “no” to anything that doesn’t fit into the priorities and boundaries we’ve set in advance for ourselves. We’re able to stay focused and keep an eye on the bigger picture. If they’re personal advanced decisions, we are also able to share these decisions with our spouse so they can help keep us accountable to them!

As we approach the end of the year, this is the perfect time to start thinking about some advanced decisions that you want to consider in the new year. How do you want this next year to go? What decisions do you need to make now to ensure you get closer to the goals for what’s most important in your life?

We hope this tool can be just as helpful in your lives as it has been in ours! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our home to yours!

Remember: Check out Episode 72 for an in-depth conversation about advanced decision-making!

Looking for some new reads for 2024? Consider one of our 14 books!

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