A meaningful life begins with the choices we make each day. Part of that equation involves the tools and resources we have at our disposal. These tools can help us design a simple, yet productive life. This then allows us to focus on the things that matter. Having those tools can make the difference in how we'll eventually view our year. Ultimately, our habits and attitude towards life determines how we shape our life, more closely, how we'll shape this year. However, there are some tangible tools that can help us design 2016 into our best year yet. 

A Plan
  • We all understand that the foundation of any successful venture is a solid plan. Having in good plan in place makes it more likely that we will follow through and hold ourselves accountable. A solid plan should ideally be written out, placed somewhere visible, and formed from realistic, yet reaching goals. The plan should be simple, stating exactly what you hope to achieve, no more, no less. The plan has to be specific. It should include specific actions and dates. It needs to be realistic. By that I mean making plans for what YOU truly want and what you are capable of attaining. For example, having a goal to save 10% of your paycheck is better than trying to saving 50%. Yes, it's possible to save 50% of your check, but it's simply not realistic, especially over the long haul. Lastly, a plan should be complete. In that, all the the aforementioned sections are done and that you feel good about your plan. Have confidence in your plan and most importantly follow through. 
A Planner
  • What's a good plan without a planner? This is surely one of my favorite topics, I do love discussing planners. Everyone's approach to this will be slightly different, but there are some similarities. Whether you decide to use an electronic or paper system, maybe both, doesn't really matter. The most important aspect of any planner is that it works for you and simplifies your life. This year I'm using a Sugar Paper for Target planner as my main planner and an A5 organizer for varying segments of my life. I'll also be using other planners for specific purpose, such as wellness/meal planning, blog editorial, gratitude, and financial planning. These planners are very specific in their purpose and most importantly they simplify my life. That's the key. 
A Journal
  • I've journal almost all my life, but I've only been cataloging my journals for the past eight years. There are so many reasons to have a journal, but for me the most important is simply to get my thoughts out into a tangible format. Journaling is one of the best tools for reflection and being intentional. It's never too late to start. Keeping an active journal throughout the year will help to clarify your goals and give you a better perspective on your life.  Having a place to write down your thoughts can be an excellent way to work through difficult problems and find the best solutions. 
A Financial Plan
  • A financial plan can be as simple or as complex as you make it. The key is in the follow-through. The basic principle of any financial plan is to spend less than you make. Your plan should include a vision statement, something along the lines of why you care to manage your money. The more personal this is the better. It's also important to be mindful of your overarching financial goals, whether that's to travel, purchase a home, or build a business. More, know your starting point. Your current income level should be where your plan starts. From there take stock of your assets, credit scores, and debts. After this you'll want to develop a weekly and/or monthly tracking plan. Again, the key to success is consistency and determination to make it work. 
Reading Material 
  • Lastly, surround yourself with good reading material. You don't necessarily have to go and purchase anything, there's the library and most magazine articles can be found on their website. You can never know enough or expand your horizon too far, so set a daily or weekly time slot dedicated to the simple pleasure of reading. 

I'm sure there are more tools that can add to this list, but no matter what is used the fundamentals are the same: consistency and follow-through. I hope this post inspires you to design your best year yet.