Welcome to the start of the year! How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? For those of you who select one word for their year – do you remember your word? A few years ago, I shifted from resolutions and one word to making quarterly goals. I was doing really well on my goals last year until August when I took on my new job. My new job was taking a lot of time and energy and I found myself skipping all the goals. So here in the new year, it’s time to get back to focusing on whatever I’ve decided is important. This year I decided I’d work on goals, but for the year not a quarter.
Now before I explain what I’ve decided to do, I need to confess that I’ve never really outgrown my opinion that buying school supplies at the start of the academic year is just fun. Of course, now I call them office supplies. I like good pens and the way they write on different kinds of paper. I like colored tabs, and file folders and hanging files. The place where I have put the most energy over the years is in planners and planning systems. I am always on the look out for a new one, the perfect one.
I’ve carried a daily planner since college long before it was a normal behavior, long before academic advisors recommended planners as a tool for student success. Not a lot of choices then. Mine, like my Mom’s had been, was a black soft cover, one page a day, with red edged pages and a red ribbon to mark the page. More than one person told me they thought I carried my Bible around everywhere.
Now, of course there are planners in all colors, all styles, all shapes and sizes. I’ve tried many of them. For several years now, I’ve carried one that’s part of a system that allows me to move pages around and my use of the book has expanded. I keep appointments in it of course, but I also use it to think since I like thinking with a pen in my hand. I use it somewhat as a ‘commonplace book’ to capture quotes, ideas and other odds and ends that catch my attention. I keep track of the books I’ve read and of the various goals I want to spend time and energy on.
This year, I’m trying something a bit different. Mathew Dicks, who writes a daily blog that I read most days, has a very long list of very specific goals he wants to accomplish over the course of the year. Each month he posts his progress. His goals are big and small, health and work related, the range is amazing. And I’m going to give it a try. So this year, I’m going to do my with a weekly goal rather than daily for walking. I’ll still need to push to get there, but not quite in the same way as a daily goal. I have a goal of writing a thank you note every week. (I need to write last week’s tomorrow while being alert for this week’s recipient.) I want to work on Spanish and read a book a week. I have about fifteen things I want to add into my life throughout the coming year. All in my planner. I’m a J on the Myers-Briggs and checking things off a list, marking the accomplishment each day, each week is very satisfying to me. So I have plans for the year.
I was intrigued by today’s quote. I like the idea that by planning I’m influencing the future. I may or may not manage to work on all of these throughout the year, but that’s really not the point. I may need to change the details, shift my emphasis as the year winds on as I live into the future. That’s okay. That’s the way of a life, but whether my goals shift or stay the same, having a plan helps me spend my time more wisely than I do without a plan. Using my planner to check things off, make needed or interesting changes, and pay attention to what is important to me continues to be helpful.
And if I can do all this with colorful pens and a planner design that is functional for me, so much the better. How do you plan?