No offense, but I think you are kind of silly.
N0, it’s not because I’m undisciplined and think self improvement is a waste of time. I just find you a bit silly for a couple of reasons.
- Why wait until the new year to start making the changes you seek? To live fully means to understand that each new day is a fresh opportunity to begin anew. Life is too short to wait for January to get started!
- Waiting for one calendar month to start every single self improvement goal is a disaster. No one can focus on that many goals and actually be successful.
- January doesn’t feel like the start of anything to me. I don’t get a sense of renewal. It’s just a manmade construct of time that makes no sense. Why don’t we start our year when most people feel a natural sense of change or renewal, like the fall or the spring? Maybe I’m a little too in touch with the earth; I find my rhythm favoring season changes and the lunar cycles. January more or less feels like the continuation of the long, cold and dark part of the year. I think it’s harder to feel motivated at this point in the calendar. If we are honest, I think most people are inclined to hibernate for the month of January. I feel the most motivated in early fall and spring.
- A lot of people just write their resolutions on a piece of paper and then move on. I feel like without a way to track your progress, you ultimately fail. How can you remain honest about the journey if you aren’t tracking it? Sometimes we are our own worst enemies….a little too nice and not very objective about our own goals.
With that said, do I make resolutions? NOPE! But do I make goals ? Yep! Aren’t they the same thing? Not in my mind….
I feel like resolutions are over general, lofty statements people make. They never get to the heart of the issue. Goals on the other hand, have steps and are well thought out; which makes them more likely to be met. Goals find the root of the problem, and they keep you honest.
- Resolution: I want to loose 10 pounds in one week!
- Goal: Taking 10,000 steps everyday.
I also think that a resolution has a different mindset from a goal. The mindset of a resolution tends to be negative while a goal feels more positive. I think you are more likely to stick with something that feels good.
- Resolution: I want to loose 10 pounds because I’m disgusting and can’t fit into my clothes!
- Goal: Taking 10,000 steps a day because I want to be healthy.
As promised… Here is how I set myself up for success:
Background: I tried other tracking methods in the past and they haven’t worked out for me. I feel like I need something flexible, yet practical. I tried bullet journaling but that’s too flexible for me. I end up spending too much time on doodles and chart making than on goal getting.
My sister introduced me to Erin Condren planners. As she was coloring in her water intake for the day, I was snickering. REALLY? ! WHO HAS TIME FOR THAT? Then, I find myself with a bullet journal just a couple months later…. I used it to track stuff, but not water intake. However, I just didn’t have the time to add daily doodles and color multiple things in to track myself. In fact, all that tracking made me feel anxious, not organized. If your body needs water, it will let you know because it’s smart like that. Why do I need to document it? I think sometimes the doodles, fancy charts and micro-tracking are a way to make you feel like you are making progress when in reality, you are just keeping your hands busy while waisting time.
I also like to journal but don’t have loads of time to write. I have thing thing about not having multiple notebooks; I need it to stay organized. I don’t keep a calendar to track my personal appointments so I’m not looking for all that.
So after all snorting at my sister’s EC planner, I got one. Not the fancy one she had, but one that I have adapted to meet my needs. I’ve seen people schedule every minute of their day….down to when they shower. I like my schedule significantly more loose than that. I know what needs to be done and have enough to discipline to do it…the order of the day doesn’t really matter.
How do I use it?
As mentioned, I run on a different timeline. In Fall, I feel the desire to turn into myself. I take stock of my life and then decide where I want to go and what I want to do. If something isn’t working, I DROP IT. Instead of January 1st as the start date, I chose December 8th, Bodhi day. This is the day Buddha became enlightened. As part of the tradition I decorate a Bodhi tree with colored lights (like a Christmas tree) you leave the tree up and turn the lights on each night for one month starting on December 8th and ending in January. With that daily commitment to the lights for one month, it feels like the right time to start a new goal.
How many goals?
12. Choose one goal and commit to it for a full month. If you think you want to stick with that lifestyle change then keep going, but add in a new goal for the second month. I haven’t picked all of my goals yet, and I’ll just see where this year takes me. I haven’t assigned a goal to each month- I’ll just choose when it feels is a page in this planner that write my goals on. Then, I assign a color to each goal.
Each day I meet that goal, I color in the day on the calendar page. At the end of the month I add up that days (since my goal will run into two calendar months. Plus if it’s an on going goal for the whole year, I can quickly add the days without counting all those boxes). At the top of the calendar I include a quote or reason for the goal.
My first goal was going meat free for 30 days; for ethical and environmental reasons. I’m currently at 27 of 31 days! I will definitely continue not eating land animals but have not decided on seafood (seafood has its own ethical and environmental issues). It depends on how hypocritical I want to be and how lazy I am. It’s so much easier to get B12 from animals.
I also have to choose my second goal for month two. I thinking no Facebook for 30 days.
I use the pages where you can write important appointments to to record my insights or a quote for the day. This allows just enough time for reflection and journaling each day.
Last, I choose a word for the year. The word is my big picture goal. I chose “Wisdom” for 2016. “Balance” for 2017 and 2018 is “witness”. More on my word later.