As we round the corner to wrap up 2019 and begin 2020 (my stars!!) many of us are thinking about our goals for the next year. I’ve shared before that I’m pretty good at setting goals, but not the greatest when it comes to follow through, so a few years ago I discovered the PowerSheets Goal Planning system and I’ve been using it ever since. It has been instrumental for me in terms of setting and executing goals, but especially in helping me keep a healthy perspective and set healthy boundaries with the many things I juggle.
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I don’t usually look around once I find a system that works, but when I saw what my friend, Sierra, was working on – I became more and more intrigued until we finally had a conversation about it and she offered to send me a preview copy to share with you. I think you’ll probably be as impressed as I am with it, and I think I know why it is turning goal planners upside down!
I’ve known Sierra Friend through the planning community where she has shared her voice and her creativity with other planners. Sierra is also a dual-certified Life & Business Coach (since 2005). She has facilitated workshops, accountability groups, and coached individuals on the process of setting and achieving their goals. Her passion is finding ways to help people create a vision and organize their life to achieve their plan for the future.
Merge Sierra’s experience and knowledge of planning and planners with her passion and vast experience in helping coach people toward achieving their goals, and you end up with an absolutely amazing game-changer of a planner system! And that’s the difference that I think you’ll see on these pages! Not only is the goal planning portion reliable and fine tuned through experience, but the planner portion is thoughtful and a planner’s dream! And that’s why I’m excited to share Sierra’s creation – the Makselife planner – (pronounce it: mox-ie) with you as you’re considering what your planning and goal setting system might be for the upcoming year! At the end of the post, I’m even going to compare and contrast it to the PowerSheets since I know many of my readers may use them and wonder about the differences.
- The Makselife planner is $68 – that’s a comparable price considering you’re getting a year long goal planner along with a year long weekly planner – all in one. It breaks down to 19 cents/day to plan and set your goals!
- Launch date: November 29, but you can pre-order now!
- Planners will begin shipping in early December.
- Two color choices:
- blue floral (pictured in this review)
- yellow floral (a muted marigold floral)
- Two layout choices:
- vertical (pictured in this review)
- Calendar year dated January – December 2020
- 17 pages of goal planning + instruction
- Page size: 7 x 9 inches
- 320 Pages – it’s a thick planner!
- 120gsm, bright white smooth paper (this is the same weight paper as the Erin Condren Life Planner, but the feel is much smoother and the color is a crisp white!)
- Full color printing on all pages, but the overall planner reads very muted in terms of color.
- Different color scheme each month
- Hard cover with linen textured surface
- Coated Wire-O binding in a coppery-gold color
- Reinforced elastic enclosure
- Two-page Monthly calendar spread
- Two-page Weekly calendar spread
- Weekly Notes page *plus* 13 pages of notes in the back
- Accordion pocket inside of the back cover
- Double-sided pocket folder for additional storage
- Sturdy mylar-coated tabs
- Keepsake box in our signature white + grey stripe pattern with foil detail
- Cover designed by best-selling author and artist, Peggy Dean of The Pigeon Letters
Before we really dig in, I want to start right out by sharing Sierra’s philosophy – the message you’ll find through the pages of the Makselife planner. Sierra’s philosophy is that the prep work, goal setting, and what we accomplish aren’t really the point or the end game; it’s about what we become in the process. We can’t always control the outcomes, and that’s an important point! But we can control our habits, our fortitude, and our growth through this process – growth that builds character. That is the Makselife philosophy.
The opening page contains a nice note from Sierra and an explanation for why the name “Makse” fits. “You know where you want to go, and have what it takes to get there. Makselife was created from this ideology.”
As we walk through the prep pages together I’m going to share them with you and also share how I completed each page and my thoughts from completing the process. At the end I’ll tell you about how long it took me to complete the prep work.
The tabs are all a gray color and are laminated for durability. The cover is a smooth linen texture. It is not a glossy cover; it is more matte. The coil is a copper wire-o coil.
Prep Work Pages
Getting started introduces the four pillar concepts of the Makse system:
- Accessible – and this is unique to the Makselife planner in that goals are merged into a planner system so that there is a connected space to walk goals forward. It is integrated seamlessly.
- Simple – this pillar is possibly the one that excites me the most. Life for me is full and while I love setting goals, superfluous questions or formats that seem extra or unnecessary quickly turn me off. I find the Makselife planner to be very straightforward and simple and to me…that is very inviting!
- Actionable – this is key because sometimes setting goals can seem nebulous or uncertain; this planner holds your hand without overwhelming so that you can envision action steps that maximize your energy and focus.
- Repeatable – this planner fosters habit setting like no other planner I have ever encountered! The format helps you build good habits that become the stepping stones for your goals.
There are five simple steps in the goal setting system:
- Compass Assessment
- Setting Intentions
- Annual Goals + Vision
- Monthly Goals + Weekly Actions
- Monthly Reflections + Quarterly Review
The compass assessment is all about understanding your starting point!
Using the assessment pages you score yourself in the various areas of life (personal, fun and recreation, work and learning, family and relationships, health and wellness, spiritual and personal growth, financial, physical environment).
With your honest assessment, you can go back and shade your corresponding score on the life compass, giving you a unique perspective for where you are. Using the insight from this assessment, it’s easy to see where you might want to target growth.
This section in particular is very exciting to me. This initial step of identifying where I am, and evaluating current aspects of my life can sometimes get lost in navel-gazing with some approaches, but the concrete questions in the assessment really helped walk me through this step. I felt concretely anchored to the outcome of my assessment in a way that felt very honest. It was a great starting point for me and I would like to complete this section with my husband, as a kind of a couple/family evaluation.
The intentions page was actually difficult for me to complete. After being so encouraged by the concrete nature of the assessment, I felt a little lost in the abstract here. I took a few minutes and was able to come up with something for some of the intentions, but nothing felt cohesive or solid like the assessment page did. And it felt weird to go forward with this page incomplete, but I did, and I’m glad I did because doing so helped me come back and finish this page.
Setting goals can be quite difficult for some, and I was glad to see some very specific instruction on how to write out your goals so that they will be measurable and specific.
The next two pages walk through annual goals, monthly goals, and weekly actions. I found these two pages to be extremely helpful in framing my overall vision, which then helped me go back and complete my Intentions page with more thoughtfulness.
These pages started helping me see how both the goal setting and the planner were starting to integrate! I loved how, as part of the annual goals, we’re encouraged to note rituals or traditions on our calendar. Rituals and traditions are so important in our family and they should be a cornerstone in your planning!
These two pages are such a valuable guide for those that feel completely intimidated by goal planning! I found the steps so valuable and helpful – it will be something I refer to often!
There are 4 total pages for listing your annual goals. Each goal is color coordinated and reflects the same color throughout the planner – from the Life Compass to the Annual Goal page and going forward – there is a consistent theme of color from goal to goal. When setting goals, Sierra encourages asking yourself, “How much?” and “By when?” – in other words, be very specific when you state your goals.
There are two full, blank pages for a vision board. I don’t usually complete physical vision boards; I’ve never completed them in my PowerSheets. (I do create something like a vision board in Pinterest on a private board – so if you feel similarly or avoid vision boards, I suggest a Pinterest vision board!) It’s probably just me. However, I do like using these pages for quotes that I find encouraging or motivating or words or phrases that have special meaning to me – like “Non nobis” so that’s probably how I’ll use this page. Maybe one day I’ll get over myself and create a vision board, but right now, it’s something I know I probably won’t do, so I’d rather repurpose the page in a way that still fits the idea of a vision, but doesn’t ask me to cut up my gorgeous Magnolia magazines!
The goal setting tips were super helpful to me! I’ve been setting goals for a very long time – although only in the last three years has my goal setting really become fine tuned and thoughtful. The tips on this page are illuminating and give direction – whether you are completely intimidated by the idea of goal setting, or you are a seasoned goal-setter.
You’ll find this theme throughout the Makselife planner. Begin where you are and grow from there. This system is about beginning and growth. Any outcomes that result from your hard work are wonderful, of course! We all want outcomes! But it’s your growth through this process of beginning over and over again that becomes a foundational part of your character. And I love that emphasis!
That wraps up all of the prep work pages. It took me about an hour to complete the prep work in the Makselife planner – very do-able in an evening!
The prep pages are simple and straightforward and get your hands in the work quickly so that within an hour you’ve got a clearer vision of your year articulated through your goals. I, personally, found the prep work invigorating and fairly intuitive because much of it is spent working within a concrete framework. Goal setting can be intimidating and finding words to articulate goals can be even more so. The structure and framework offered by Makse provides a clear path that made goal setting a process that was easy and then…done. And it all felt very streamlined. I think that was Sierra’s intention – to provide a system that wasn’t intimidating to approach. And I think she did it well!
Each month is structured behind a gray, laminated tab. The monthly layout has generous blocks for the calendar days and a notes column along the right side with a mini monthly calendar showing the upcoming month. The top of the right facing page has a nice quote.
Although minimal, each of the months has a unique color designation, all originating from the same colors used in the life compass color wheel.
Behind the monthly spread you’ll find a two page spread for designating your goals for the month. There is generous space to designate the goals you’ll set that move you toward your overall vision. I’d like to list my specific goal and then bullet out some action steps under each goal. I think this will facilitate my weekly goal setting if I already have action steps listed in my monthly goal spread.
The end of each month includes a monthly reflection page. I prefer this reflection page over others I’ve seen just because the questions strike right at what worked, and what didn’t. I love the idea of listing all of that out and then rating how satisfied I was with a given month’s progress.
The weekly actions page is a two page spread. Using the notes & reflections page, you can reflect on the last week – successes, challenges, stumbling blocks, etc. Or perhaps you just need a big page to get all of the thoughts, to-do lists, events, and deadlines out of your head. This lined page exists as part of your weekly prep – every week.
One very unique and thoughtful part of the notes and reflections page is the goal tip at the bottom of each of these pages. There is one for each week of the year, and the aspect that makes them quite unique and extraordinary is that Sierra chose them all very intentionally and carefully to correspond with the challenges that her clients consistently had around that particular week in their goal setting process. Using her experience, she has leveraged her coaching so that these tips show up exactly when you need them most! Another reason this planner occupies a very unique lane in the planner world!
The weekly actions page will help you really consider how you can best spend your time and these actions should spring from your master goal list. As I prepare a week, I would flip back to my yearly vision to review it, and then reference my monthly goals. From there, I can pull forward some action steps into my weekly actions that will move me forward toward completing a goal.
How detailed or listed out this page becomes really depends on your temperament and individual needs. Some of us may have several things that look like an organized/themed to do list…while others may prefer a very simple, streamlined framework for a week. Both are right! Sierra encourages us to be patient as we work through all of the weekly pages. She says it takes time (4-6 weeks) to really find a good weekly flow and our own individual work practice for tackling the nitty gritty of each week.
From there, turn the page to find your weekly spread. I chose to review the vertical planner, but there is a horizontal option if you prefer planning horizontally.
I LOVE the format of this vertical weekly planner! The vertical columns are all lightly lined (be still my heart!), and each column has a single header cell at the top of each column (great for listing birthdays, events, special days, payday, etc.).
The far right side of the weekly spread has a generous notes column.
And I love the habit trackers built into the bottom corner of each weekly page! Habits are the building blocks of any goal! And having this built into the page is a great, repeating reminder to set weekly habits to build!
You’ll also notice the small heart at the bottom of each daily column – the hearts are gratitude reminders. Jot down something you’re grateful for each day! Gratitude builds contentment!!
Each quarter has a quarterly compass page. This page is very useful for refreshing and reviewing your goals every three months. Some goals will need to be fine tuned!! There have been times when I listed a goal over and over again – month after month – and tried my best to work it and leverage it while making absolutely no progress. I kept repeating the same process until I finally realized that the goal I listed just didn’t fit within my season of life. So I eliminated the goal and had peace about it; that goal is for a different season. These quarterly compass pages will help you walk through the process of evaluating and assessing your different life areas and considering how your progress is (or is not) going. Sierra encourages us to remove any goal that is not motivating.
I wanted to show you that although this is a full color planner, the colors are very minimal and soft. It is not a neutral planner, but it is pretty close!
The end of the planner has the 2020 and 2021 calendars and behind them there are 13 lined notes pages.
There is a double sided pocket folder coiled into the planner. This pocket folder is a heavier cardstock than standard paper, but it is not super heavy, nor is it laminated, so I expect this pocket to show quite a bit of wear and tear by the end of the year.
I love the addition of an accordion pocket that is glued onto the back cover of the planner. It will hold a generous number of documents or sticker sheets!
The planner has a fixed elastic band that wraps around the front of the planner to hold the cover in place. In general, I’m not a fan of attached elastic bands because they get in the way of the planner laying flat when the elastic isn’t wrapped around the planner, but it’s not a design feature that I’m going to lose any sleep over. If it bothers me enough I can easily snip it off.
You could also use the elastic band to hold your place in the planner.
Speaking of holding your place, this set of 3 snap in bookmarks will be available when the planners launch (November 29). They will be available separately or in a bundle.
I love the gray ombre’ effect!
- MY VISION: place a bookmark at the beginning of the book where your original annual goals are. Or! I will probably put mine at the super helpful two page spread that reviews the steps of setting monthly goals and weekly actions until I find those steps more intuitive.
- MONTHLY GOALS: Place this bookmark on the two page monthly goal spread so you can flip back to it easily when you chunk down your weekly actions steps.
- THIS WEEK: this one is pretty obvious – use this bookmark to mark your week.
Comparison: Makse | PowerSheets
There are probably some obvious differences to you if you are familiar with either of these goal planners, but I’ll list all of the differences and comparisons I’ve noted with these two planners in case you’re new to both and trying to decide which planner makes most sense for you.
- Both have wire-O binding (not my favorite binding in the world). PowerSheets is a 10″ x 7″ planner; Makse is a 9″ x 7″ planner.
- PowerSheets definitely falls in the bright and colorful column; Makse, a full color planner, is much more subdued overall with subtle shades of color throughout.
- Makselife planner is a goal planning system and a weekly life planner combo – it keeps your annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals between the same covers as your weekly planning. It’s an integrated system and if you need something that combines both, then Makse is for you.
- The 2020 PowerSheets now contain a monthly spread for mapping out a monthly view of your goals, but there are no weekly or daily planning pages – you’ll need to complete your PowerSheets and then open it up near your chosen planner system and transfer your weekly and monthly goals into your regular planner.
- The Makselife Planner is 1 ¼” from cover to cover – PowerSheets are 1″ from cover to cover. Both are large books, but the Makse includes a year’s worth of planning pages within that 1 ¼”.
- PowerSheets contains 28 pages of prep work and then an additional 26 pages of goal setting (enough pages to map out 8 goals with their corresponding action plans). So…before you even get to the monthly pages of prep for that individual month, you have 54 pages to walk through to set up your year. For some, that is reassuring because those pages are extensive and thorough!!! For others, that might be an overwhelming number of pages and questions for prep. It takes me several hours spent over a few days to complete my PowerSheet prep at the beginning of each year. And full disclosure: I skip several pages.
- Makselife Planner has 17 pages of prep work. Total. It took me a little less than an hour to complete the prep pages, and that’s because this was my first time walking through the prep.
- I find the Makselife Planner goal setting questions to be much more concrete thus making it easier for me to make observations, whereas the PowerSheets questions and assessments are much more abstract and emotional. Neither of those observations is bad/good. I think there is a place for both systems depending on your temperament and needs. For example, someone who has endured an emotional trauma would really benefit from the introspection provided in PowerSheets. Someone who gets overwhelmed easily with self-awareness type questions would much prefer the more streamlined Makse approach.
- Personal pref: I really prefer the prep work in Makse and the Action Plan worksheets in PowerSheets. So, I’ve decided to work through both for at least 6 months to see my overall preferences. I’ll continue to use my current planner system.
I hope you found this review and my observations helpful! There will be some promotions and bundles available on launch day (November 29), however, you are free to pre-order right now! All orders will begin shipping out in early December.
Feel free to ask questions in the comment box and I’ll do my best to answer!
Happy goal planning!