As I mentioned in the first post of this September series, this month is seen as the “second January” and a time to focus or re-focus on goals and plans. With back-to-school and back-to-work after vacations for many people, it’s naturally a good fit for checking in on those January resolutions, or making new ones altogether.
I have always loved planning. I’m a planner. I’m organized (sometimes too much so), get thrown off when plans aren’t followed and am a militant to-do list keeper. I get such satisfaction from crossing something off one of my many lists (typical Type ‘A’!)
And, as far as I can remember, I’ve always been this way. You know those agendas you got at the beginning of each school year? Sometimes 81/2×11, sometimes 5×7, always with a plastic cover and filled with boxes for each school day and inspiring quotes? The day we received those had to have been one of the best the entire school year. THE POSSIBILITIES! The endless opportunities for creativity. Pages among pages of space for doodling, writing, drawing, homework tabulating, colouring, organizing, expressing, and collage-making.
Oh, the collages.
I would scrape off the printed design on the back of the clear plastic front agenda cover and use it as a cover for my new work of art that was going to guide my year. I’d create collages with cut-out pictures, words and letters from magazines and concoct themed masterpieces that brought me so much joy to look at every day and made it even more intriguing to use (not that I needed another incentive). I took as much satisfaction (if not more) out of the creative pursuit of making the collage – deciding on the overall vision, finding applicable clippings, fitting and overlapping them together perfectly – as I did in seeing the artistic finished product.
I wrote earlier about how the things you liked to do as a child are probably things you like to do (and are good at) today, and this is certainly true on this front.
For our first-year wedding anniversary (which you can read about here), my husband got me a new planner (going with the traditional “paper” gift for a first anniversary) as part of his gifts to me. A bit more modern and innovative than the ones handed out in elementary school, I’m so excited about my Life Purpose Playbook planner.
I doubt I’ll replace the cover with a collage this time, but to amp myself up even more about the new planning opportunities, I treated myself to a set of new colourful pens. These vibrant and smooth tools will get me even more excited to jot down my goals, thoughts, to-do’s and more.
While electronic calendars are handy – super portable and efficient – I’ve always loved using a paper agenda as my main planning tool. An iPhone calendar is great for entering quick to-do’s on the go, but there’s something about putting pen to paper that allows me to better organize my thoughts and make It somehow feels more “real.” Plus – physically crossing something off a list is hugely satisfying!
“You manage what you measure” –Gretchen Rubin
Paper agendas also have the advantage of being an outlet for creativity, as I mentioned earlier. I’ve used them each year for as long as I can remember – in school, all through university and today as a professional. I feel lost without it!
Here are my goal-setting ideas for my new planner:
- Roadmapping to do more of the things I love
- Identifying short and long-term goals and breaking them down into actionable steps
- Setting intentions for each month (similar to what’s done at the outset of a yoga practice or like Gretchen Rubin’s concept of a “one-word theme” for your year.)
- Being specific: instead of “Go to gym,” or even “cardio,” writing “run 5k”
- Tracking books I’ve read, want to read, and important passages from them
- Recapping a wonderful summer: it’s great to look ahead but also important to reflect on happy memories. With the first day of fall on September 22, I’ll take the time to jot down what I was happy to have done this summer, including:
The Passion Planner website has a whole section on tips, including using planners to mindmap, meal prep, track habits, finances and more.
Taking a few minutes each week to do some planning can pay off big in the long run! I love September for its tendency to re-calibrate us for a productive end-of-year.
How do you set and achieve actionable goals? What do you want to focus on for the latter portion of the year? I would love to hear your ideas and tips!