I usually spend considerable time fretting about such things, but after I did something new in January that I'd never done before, that fretting stopped, virtually overnight. Here's what I did:
I wrote up my Highlights from 2016 in advance.
The list has turned out to be both motivating and reassuring. If I just focus on doing the things on this list, I know it will be a great year. If I am lucky enough to have open time on my calendar and I'm debating (read: fretting about) how to use it, I just look at my list and identify one action I can take to make progress against one of those items. It makes me feel great every time.
I realize this might sound compulsive and crazy to some people. If you feel constrained by plans and love spontaneity, this technique probably isn't for you. But if you're like me and you love checking things off lists and making plans, give this a try.
Here's how I did it:
MAKE THE LIST: Pretend it is the end of 2016, and that you are looking back over the year identifying the year's highlights. Write up a list of all the things you hope you'll be able to say.
ORGANIZE THE LIST: Bucket your list by category. My categories were: Career, Writing, Fitness & Health, Parenting, Adventure/Family Projects, Relationship/Spouse, Community/Friendships, and Personal Development. Your categories might be different. You may have multiple items in some categories, and other categories with only one or two highlights.
POST THE LIST: Type up the list, in past tense, as if everything were already done. Put little check boxes next to each item and print it out. Post the list where it's easy to see as you go about your days.
USE THE LIST TO INSPIRE ACTION: When you start to fret or worry about whether you are using your time well, look at the list and say to yourself, "If I just focus on doing these things, it's going to be a great year." Then identify one action you can take in that moment to make progress on one of those line items.
HAVE FUN WITH IT: I got the family involved in the "Adventure/Family Projects" category, and that's how it happened that in 2016 we "Swam in 8 different pools." I love having fun things like that mixed in.
I am enjoying the optimistic feeling that 2016 is going to be a fantastic year. The list makes me feel more confident that I can make it come true. I hope it works for you too! Enjoy!