Writing it all Down

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Have you ever heard the quote, "I don’t know what I think until I read what I write?" I had to look it up to see that the quote is ascribed to Joan Didion, but I have heard it and repeated it often over the years. Writing down plans and hopes and dreams is a great way to clarify your thoughts and plans and really unload the stuff that floats around in your mind. I fell in love with journaling a long time ago, and kept up with it for years through high school and college. I lost touch with it somewhere, but I definitely wish I hadn't. Re-starting journal writing for a new decade seems like the right step to take.

Have you begun writing responses to the questions in my last post? If you haven't, take a moment and hop back to read them. I am writing my responses to the questions and I find that I am disappointed. I am not entirely headed in the direction I want to go...I have things I say I want to be that I am not doing well actually being. For example, I want to be physically strong and stay in shape. But--full disclosure--we are in the circle of trust here...be kind to me--I haven't even taken a WALK in months. Sad, but true. Another example: I know that I want to have a family who spends time together talking and doing a family games/whatever night, but it is not happening. There is currently zero time set aside for that on our schedule, even though that is a value I want to pursue. Between kids sports and all the other commitments, we don't have it. Gah! Are you with me? These are just the first two I wrote down! I only just started writing my answers! So, I need to spend some effort to correct course. And that feels pretty daunting, to be honest.

I am aware of how persistent my natural self is at bucking against new resolutions. If left entirely to my own devices, my default settings ALWAYS revert back to eating carbs (exclusively) and taking naps, know what I mean??? Can I get an amen?? We are all creatures of habit, and we get comfortable in our own lanes (or ruts)—regardless of whether they are doing us favors or not. I am so there. If you haven’t thought much about it yet, I get you, girl. Sometimes just surviving the day is the biggest goal I can possibly reach for. #truestory

Journaling and planning and list making have often overlapped in my experience. Some of my journaling has been the forward thinking future planning, and some has been just a safe place to react to the events and emotions of the day. I may or may not have ever written "survive the day" in my planner, just to get to cross it off my to-do list. Writing it all down helps.

In fact, did you know that just writing down a goal makes it 42% more likely to achieve it? I know that sounds weirdly specific. But why, you ask? Good question. Forbes has an interesting article about this. The basic message is that when you write down a goal, you prove that you have focus enough to define it—which is half of the battle for many people. You are able to focus your attention on it. In fact, the greater detail you can give your goal/vision/plan, the more likely you are to accomplish it. It is a powerful tool that you can put to work in your life.

Being a paper planner kind of gal, this all gives me a lot of hope! I have been shopping around for a new planner for the year. Of course, you can type up all of your plans if that is your thing. For me, using only my iPhone calendar is pretty much an impossibility. I need to see the whole week at a glance and I do NOT spend most of my time in front of the computer, so I tend not to keep up with the online calendar. Shout out to those of you who love it, though! My hubby is trying to drag me in to the digital age, but I fight him on it kicking and screaming (not literally). He just shakes his head at me.

I found this planner thing called the Monk Manual (monk as in monastery—don’t laugh yet). The concept is a 90-day planner for intentional goal setting and mindfulness—and I plan to use it for maybe more of a personal journal/workbook. I was open to something new this year, and clearly influenced by Instagram marketing), of course I ordered it. I’m all New Year, New Me (Now you can laugh, ‘cause I am just kidding).

It doesn’t quite hit all the wickets as a scheduling calendar for me, since it is only 90 days. You can order the year kit (includes 4 planners) for a discount, but I felt that a 90 days might be enough of a test drive. Self awareness is important to me this year. I think this "journaling planner" will be useful for daily directed self-examination. We all know that daily habits are the key—what you do daily is more important than what you do every once in a while. Which is why it is so hard to make lasting changes.

That being said, I still needed to pick up a little day-runner type calendar to fill in all the important dates for the year. And I did. I didn’t realize when I ordered it that it was undated, but I am a good sport, so I just kept it.

And here is the visual of how well that went:

My actual calendar page--not the Monk Manual. Guess I should have worked in pencil.

Here is what I have to say about undated calendars: $#*% @$**. I could go on, but I won’t. I have loved my Erin Condren LifePlanner for the past several years, but I wanted to try out a new something this year. I could NOT remember why, once I started writing the DATE NUMBERS in the new planner. Um….just FYI, this year is a Leap Year! Whoops. Missed that and realized it somewhere around the middle of April. Not the most auspicious start, but I am working with it.

So, I will keep you posted on what I think of this Monk Manual. By the way, it is also undated, so pray for me. Ha!

Update me about your progress on your personal inventory! You can weigh in on what you think. I hope it is helping you get clear on your starting point as we move into the year.

xo, Ann Marie

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