OK, today is all about taking it to the next level. This is not a quick fix; it’s about changing your life structure and the way you do things… permanently. That takes practice aka ACTION. It takes doing these things over and over until they become habit. There is no magic potion to making big things happen. Success takes hard efficient purposeful clear work. Step by step. Keep acting on these things and you’ll never want to go back to the way things used to be. Set yourself up for success and – above all – remember that achieving your 2013 Goals is not about perfection. It’s a process. There is no “messing up” here. Making things happen is all about owning where you are – flaws and all – and doing the hard work every day to clear the clutter and realize your full potential. Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

A thing as small as writing down everything in your head (either in a physical journal or in an online journal – I love Day One on my iPhone and Mac!) has worked wonders for so many. I call this “downloading”. It’s basically dumping every thought you have on paper so that your mind can be clear to focus on what matters. Can you imagine what would happen if you did that ten times a month? Hello! MAJOR PROGRESS, right!? Progress is key, not perfection. It starts with YOU. You are the only person who can give yourself permission for greatness. You have to buck up and put one foot in front of the other to do something about your 2013 Goals. True success will not fall into your lap. You have to do whatever it takes to demolish what’s holding you back from your full potential. You have to get down and dirty and DO the hard work to clear the clutter. High fives to everyone who has started this process (and to those of you just starting today)!

Here’s where you start to make your life EASIER. You know what it felt like back in school when you showed up to class unprepared? What about for that client meeting you just had? Were you 100% prepared to OVERdeliver for them? Did you just “not have enough time to prepare”? Why do you think you lost that last sale? How often have you winged it lately? When was the last time you felt like you were running around like a wild chicken? Right now? Welcome to the hen house! You get the point. You go through days frazzled because, quite honestly – you just haven’t prepared or known how to.

On the flip side, do you know what it feels like to have a day where everything just works? You worked hard, you got things done, you made. it. happen. Your day just flows, things click – even if stressful situations arise, you have energy coming out of your ears! To make the right things happen efficiently and effectively, you have to prepare ahead of time. Shaun White doesn’t just fall into the half pipe. He purposely trains and plans everything leading up to that moment so he has no other choice but to soar. Preparation is everything. And it does. not. take. long. How many of you feel frazzled in the morning and are so crazed you feel like you don’t even have time to make a to-do list? Don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to make your list while your kids eat breakfast or on a hurried commute to work. Do it the night before. Prepare for action. When you wake up, you will know exactly what you need to do instead of flailing around trying to figure out what to focus on. Sound familiar? It that you right now? You’re not alone. That changes today.

The Next Level: Here’s what I do to set myself up for success every day. Before I go to bed or sometimes before I finish work at 5pm, I download (dump all of my thoughts, to-do’s, worries, everything) on my laptop for 10 minutes (I literally set the timer on my iPhone) then I transfer everything that needs to be acted upon (“to-do’s”) to Things on my Mac. Things is great because it syncs with Things on my iPhone. I can add items when I’m working out or out running errands or rocking Grace to sleep or whenever they come to me so they are out of my head. After looking at my entire Big List of to-do’s, I choose just five things – enough to fit on an index card or a post-it – to accomplish the next day. I purposely do not keep my Big List out. It will overwhelm you – as many of you know – if that huge list is out in front of you all day. The worst part? Even if you check 10 things off of your Big List, you still feel like a failure because it’s not ALL done. Yeah, you know what I mean. It’s self-sabotage. Don’t do it.

At night, after I download and get my head clear (and Gracie to sleep!), I make sure I have enough healthy food for the next day. I sleep in my workout clothes. I make sure my workout playlist is ready and I literally point my gym shoes toward the door in the hallway at night (…if I am planning to go outside to run. I cancelled my gym membership and bought a used elliptical on Cragslist for cold days!) I set a full bottle of water by my bed for the next day. I make sure my office is clean before I go to bed. I lay out my clothes for the next day.

How many times have you sat there staring at your closet in the morning, hating everything in it? It’s not because you don’t like your clothes. It’s because in the morning most people are rushed and you get stuck just picking something to wear because your head is thinking about all the work you have to do that day. Try picking out your clothes the night before and somehow that decision takes 1/10000th of the time. Right? Right. Try it. I practice what I preach. Preparing the night before saves me so much time and brain space! I literally – no matter what happens – walk right into my ideal day because I crafted it to be that way. Even if the ceiling falls out, I’ve worked hard this year to put certain things in place to keep me ontrack. Save yourself a ton of time and set yourself up for success tomorrow. That entire prep list takes me all of 5-10 minutes to do (MAX) the night before and it saves me up to two hours the next day. If I follow-through, I go to bed happy and excited to work the next day. Efficiency and preparedness are addicting! They produce results. No matter what your circumstances are, you have five minutes to prepare for tomorrow. Stop making excuses for why your day happened to you. Take the reins. When it comes down to it, preparing for greatness is so easy. Success is where preparation meets opportunity. I do not give myself any excuse to not live a prepared day that FUELS ME to make things happen.

Your challenge today: what can you do today to set yourself up for success tomorrow? Right this second, start by writing this on a post it and stick it somewhere you will see it first thing tomorrow morning:

‘A year from now you will wish you had started today.’ TODAY IS THAT DAY.

ACTION ITEMS:

1. Write down 3 things you can do to set yourself up for success tomorrow. 3 actionable, realistic, tiny things. Do them. Prepare. If you do more, awesome. Don’t overwhelm yourself though. Progress, not perfection.

2. Write down one thing that you can do to prepare for greatness next week. Do it.

3. Write down one thing you can do to prepare for greatness next year. What’s on your dream goal list? It could be closer than you think if you just take the first three tiny action steps. All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney Shoot for the moon, people!

I never ever thought I’d have a national magazine. But, I do by the grace of God and because I felt the fear and took action anyway. I didn’t have a lick of experience in publishing. It started with taking me taking the very first step. Plant a seed today and act on what you want in a year. It may very well happen faster than you think! But, you have to start. Prepare for greatness and take action right now.

COMMENT with your answers to the three questions above and spread the work to get others involved. What you are doing to prepare for greatness? When you comment, you are entered to win a one-on-one branding session with me OR your choice of gold foil art prints (one for you and a friend) when my new shop opens soon. Don’t lurk any more, friends : ) Take ACTION and comment with your progress!

P.S. There are just a few seats left for our Powerful Branding Webinar Series that starts next week! Get yours before we sell out!

Show Comments (35)
  1. Mary

    I agreed to go to a 6am spin class this morning with my neighbor and knowing myself and how hard it is for me to get up and get going, I slept in my workout clothes last night. My husband laughed at me, but you know what? I was up and at ‘em at 5:15 and was able to soak in the next 45 minutes without feeling out of it and rushed to get dressed. LOVED IT

  2. @conferotweets

    ❤ RT @laracasey: Set yourself up for success in 2013. New on the blog: How to Prepare for Greatness! http://t.co/caCStTeS

  3. Tabitha

    The clothes thing is totally my issue. Just this morning my hubs was trying to get “out of my way” as I tried on numerous outfits not liking any of them. Here are my 3:
    1.Pick out my clothes the night before
    2.Plan meals for dinner next week
    3. Research local Craft shows to potentially apply for as a vendor next year.

  4. @kaitlinmcduffie

    RT @laracasey: Set yourself up for success in 2013. New on the blog: How to Prepare for Greatness! http://t.co/XxM7g3Yh

  5. Stephanie Rita

    1. Tomorrow I will do devotions and pick a verse to memorize! 2. Next week I will finalize details for an upcoming styled shoot. And 3 is hard because I want to be great at so many things… but I think to prepare for next year, THIS year I have to work on my friendships and connections and make them more meaningful. -Stephanie

  6. @weddingrep

    MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: PREPARE FOR GREATNESS: OK, today is all about taking it to the next level. This is… http://t.co/sFdNTIhQ

  7. Nakeia

    1. Preparing for a client call tonight at 9pm instead of tomorrow just before the gym.
    2. Setting an alarm on my phone to remind myself to drink water every 2hrs.
    3. Not using my phone during my daughter’s gymnastic’s class this evening. Keeping my eyes on her!

    1. Planning my recording sessions for next week by the weekend instead of Sunday night.

    1. Writing more songs this year for more earned income next year.(finishing a song today)

  8. Monica T Smith

    I am always more comfortable when I have a plan of action. Following your process over these two weeks has been exactly what I needed. Thank you!
    Success for Tomorrow:
    1. prepare lunch tonight
    2. pack tote bag for work
    3. write tomorrow’s to-do’s
    Success for Next Week:
    1. make a list of inventory needs for Mary Kay Business
    2. Add to my list of business prospects for each division of my business (beauty/image, life coaching, events for women)
    3. Review budget and bills to be paid next week
    Success for Next Year:
    1. Write one chapter a week for each God-breathed Bible study on my heart
    2. Exercise to be strong, healthy and comfortable
    This feels good!
    Monica

  9. Chandra Verbic

    For tomorrow: I’ll set my clothes out for the gym.
    For next week: I’ll reach out to schedule a meeting I’ve been putting off.
    For next year: I’m reading “Love Does” to give me a perspective to base strengthening my relationships on. Primarily, strengthening my marriage.

  10. Sarah T

    Today I will do these three things to prepare for tomorrow.
    1) set out clothes for tomorrow
    2) find and have ipad loaded with a kettlebell workout video and ready for tomorrow’s at home work out
    3)go to bed at 9pm, so I can start my day well rested without hitting the snoozing button.

    I will meal plan for next week to help alleviate the stress of what’s for dinner.

    And for next year’s greatness I am going to keep focusing on living in the present, so I can mentally be ready for next year.

  11. Valerie

    1. Download Download Download!
    2. Plan my gym days and times for the week and put on my calendar so I really go!
    3. Mark on the calendar important dates throughout the year (i.e. product launches, vacations, conferences, big projects) and plan steps to get there.

  12. Lauren

    Lara – Thanks so much for your comment on my blog! I posted about you and Emily here: http://champagnereveries.blogspot.com/2012/12/blogger-thank-you.html

    Thanks for all you girls do! xx

  13. Kristine Neeley

    Today for tomorrow:

    1. prep snacks
    2. lay out clothes
    3. “download” tonight

    Today for next week:

    1. plan meals

    Today for next year:

    1. research Crossfit competitions

  14. Court Kerr

    TOMORROW:
    1. Make to-do list tonight
    2. Choose attire tonight
    3. Take Zantac before bed … adios, heartburn!!!

    NEXT WEEK:
    1. Complete editing ALL of my sessions

    Next Year:
    1. Communicate more effectively
    2. Procrastinate less
    3. Focus on my art, not anyone else’s

    Thank you for this post!!! Look forward to reading more!

  15. Anna Rosendall

    Seriously, this series is doing my heart a world of good. Thank you (more than you know) for being such a blessing in my life! I’m SO excited to be doing this and thanks for encouraging “lurkers” like myself to post. My mini goal for the evening is to go back to every post in this series and finish up all the steps (posting comments along the way, of course). I’ve been handwriting everything so far, but need to throw it out here, partly for accountability’s sake.

    I always set my clothes out for work the next day as well as prep all my lunch components so that I can literally wake up and be out the door in 15 minutes (yay for extra sleeping time!) For those that are wondering, yes, I take my showers at night and just either dry my hair ahead of time or pin it in such a way that it isn’t atrocious in the morning!

    Small action steps for tomorrow: Set out my workout clothes since I have time for that in the morning tomorrow (not working at 6:30 like I usually do). Second, write out my to-do list and plan my errand route. Third, tidy up my home working space to maximize my time tomorrow before working the afternoon shift at my day job.

    For next week: organize my Stampin’ Up! stuff to prepare for a workshop the following week.

    For next year: go to the wedding show this Saturday to meet new people and event planners and network to further my dream of event planning.

  16. Jessica

    For my action for next week, I was amazed at the tiny little thing that I had been putting off! School is starting and all I need to do is pull up my school schedule on my phone and take a screenshot so I’ll have it handy. That’s it!! But it takes actually doing it!

  17. katyrenee

    I love this. This is a “duh” moment. I am good at daily lists, but terrible at long term lists for goals.
    Tomorrow: 1. pull out work out clothes and day clothes. 2. Put away laundry and empty dishwasher tonight. 3. Plan and prep dinner for tomorrow.
    Next week: Meal plan to make going back to work easier.
    Next year: Organize tax receipts in a system to make them easier to track.

  18. Jordan Maunder

    Endless gratitude to you for walking us through this!

    To prep for tomorrow:
    1. Set the timer on my coffee maker so it’s ready when I wake up.
    2.Print out my thesis (which needs to be revised and turned in next week) and have it sitting on my desk with a pen, ready to be modified.
    3.Have bag packed for work (including lunch, gym clothes etc.) and put it by the door.

    For next week:
    Finish editing and mail out my last shoot before classes begin on Tuesday.

    For next year:
    Purchase the domain name jordanmaunder.com!

    (As an aside, your advice is immensely helpful for students! Almost everything you say to do can be applied to classes/homework/paper writing.)

  19. Mackenzie

    To prep for tomorrow…
    1. Put everything away that is on my floor (from unpacking my luggage and hangers from my closet)
    2. Pick out my outfit for tomorrow
    3. Have my backpack completely ready to pick up and walk out the door with tomorrow
    For next week…
    1. Write a To-Do list for every class. Each class will get one sheet of card-stock with a gold title.
    For next year…
    1. Email college admissions office

  20. MAKING THINGS HAPPEN IN 2013: TAKE A BREAK! « Lara Casey

    [...] the rules. You have worked hard to set 2013 Goals, cleared some clutter and started to learn about preparing for greatness (much more on that to come!). Today, I’m giving you the key ingredient to making things happen. [...]

  21. Brittany Werth

    For tomorrow:
    Set out my clothes and pack book club materials and printouts in my tote bag.
    For next week:
    Finish meal plan for EVERY meal and stick to our grocery list/budget.
    For next year:
    Reach out to the builder we want to use and find out when future subdivision lots will be released.

    • Ashley Flores

      How has your grocery budgeting been working? I just started doing meal planning for the week on Sundays and it’s helping me stick to a budget even though I seem to rarely stick to the planned meal, lol.

  22. Carly fuller

    Tomorrow
    1. Pack and charge for wedding
    2. Prepare carry lunch
    3. Blog post about family portrait
    Next week:
    1. Begin writing the love story for tomorrow wedding that will post next week
    Next year:
    Create an excel sheet to make taxes easier next year

    These are amazing posts. Thanks Lara!!

  23. Melissa Borden

    1. Prepare my lesson for Summit Kids tonight instead of the morning and set out my clothes.
    2. Finish my reading for the first week of classes
    3. Don’t look at facebook/twitter/instagram tomorrow
    For next week
    1. Start sketching for my design project
    The next week
    1. Find a internship where I can learn and grow as a designer.

  24. Jasmine

    1. I will pack the kids’ lunches before I go to bed. Every time I do achieve this, I always wake up relaxed and in control. Otherwise I’m scrambling to make sure I pack a healthy lunch but FAST! I will also set out my clothes in the night. I already do that for the kids, why did it never occur to me to do it for myself! And the third thing is, I WILL force myself to go to bed before midnight. I usually end up in bed after midnight and it definitely leaves me tired the next day.

    2. To prepare for greatness next week – I’m planning to take this weekend off!! It will be my first off and completely unplanned in a while and we all deserve it as a family :)

    3. For next year – I really want to keep working hard on my branding structure and have all the materials produced. Put plans into action. Start getting packages together to send out to other vendors and event venues to introduce myself in a strong, bold, beautiful way. I want to do it slowly, but do it right the FIRST time.

  25. Jessica Chavez

    For Tomorrow:
    - Go to bed at 10 pm
    - Set my clothes ready
    - Get my Bible and journal ready to spend time early when I wake up.

    For this week:
    - Pray and pray hard!

    For this year:
    - COMMIT and believe that God will give me the ability to move forward.

  26. Wendi Solari

    Setting myself up for success by laying out my workout clothes, putting all my stuff by the door that needs to go with me in the morning, and making school lunches the night before.

  27. Prepare for Greatness « katieokeefeblog

    [...] are mostly for rest. But lately, I have made an effort to make Saturday afternoons for preparing for a successful week. That way I can focus on rest all day Sunday. This is inspired by Lara Casey’s blog [...]

  28. Carrie Joy

    1. Pick out an outfit for my lunch meeting tonight instead of tomorrow morning
    2. Fill up my water bottle & set it next to my bed to remind me to drink water when I wake up in the morning.
    3. Pull out Questionnaire tonight & place it on my desk so it’s ready to create a timeline first thing in the AM.

    1. Pick topics & days to post 2 blogs for next week. Tuesday: D & K Engagement / Thursday: What I’m Loving Lately

    1. Start research on attending WPPI next year. I’ve always wanted to go. Start budgeting & saving up for it. Find 3 girls to room with.

    Yay!!!

  29. Ashley Flores

    ACTION ITEMS:

    1. Write down 3 things you can do to set yourself up for success tomorrow. 3 actionable, realistic, tiny things.
    - Don’t just get my clothes out tonight, but actually iron them too! lol.
    - Pull out my yoga mat so I’ll be ready to stretch.
    - Eat something small before bed so morning sickness won’t kick my booty.

    2. Write down one thing that you can do to prepare for greatness next week. Do it.
    – Go ahead and take photographs for the current series going on on my blog.

    3. Write down one thing you can do to prepare for greatness next year. What’s on your dream goal list?
    - Contact people to be on the planning committee for the 2014 Code Blue Youth Mentoring Mini-Conference

    Whew! It feels good to write this down! Now let me put it in my planner before I forget…lol.

    xoxo