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"Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
 - Brad Paisley

As we begin a new year, and look at the 12 months of planning ahead of us as activities professionals, it can be both overwhelming and exciting!  I'd like to share a few ways that I look at this situation.

First, I review last year's successes and add the programs that I want back onto the new year's calendar. This is a good base for raising the bar for your programming because you are starting off with what was well received. Only take the best and leave the other activity ideas in the past. 

Next, I take a look at ideas that are sitting on my desk in my to-do pile. These ideas include entertainers that I want to book, places that we should go to, class ideas, etc. etc.  I pull out the ideas that I am really interested in and start penciling them onto my calendar where I think that they will work best. I make a note on the information according to what I penciled on my calendar. At this point, I either start making calls or leave it until later to call. If you have a good volunteer, it would be a perfect project for them to take on.

And lastly, I put in my special events. In my community I host a theme party every other month. In the past, I've had ideas that are suggested, are community favorites, or that I've created on my own. This year, I am going to try another approach. I work with a few different talent agencies, and my plan is to contact them and ask them to suggest one or two of their most unique entertainers. I will then build my theme night around the show. This is different from the way that I usually do things, and most likely the way you do them too.  

I encourage you to take home your calendar book and the ideas that you have on your desk or in your file cabinet, and spend some time making a year's plan. Do it in January because after the year starts it might be tough to carve out the time to do it. Maybe you just do the first 6 months and see how it goes. Another option that has worked for me in the past is, when I am on outing such as a casino trip, I take my calendar and ideas folder with me. If my gambling money runs out and I have already been around and checked on the residents on the outing and they don’t need me, I find a quiet place to sit down and open my mind to the possibilities that I can add to my calendar. I know that when I pencil in my ideas when I am not pressured to come up with ideas, that my calendar looks better. Also, it is great to turn the page of the calendar and see that some of your work is already done for you! 

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