Goal setting and journaling in 2021

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Goal setting (continued from 2020)

Planning out what your “big ticket” goals are and how you can fit normal life around achieving them is not as daunting as it might sound. I love the expression, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” That is how to approach this if it is new to you. If you have done this kind of thing before and are using this as a refresher or inspiration on different approaches, the same still applies. Tackle each goal in bite-sized chunks and you will get there.

As I told you previously, I made a beautiful journal for myself to use to set my overall goals. The very first thing I did – on the front inside page – was to record my name, email address, mobile/cell phone number and a photo of a person balancing stones. Why? Because in 2021 my main word of the year will be “balance”. I have others, which I will come to, but a big part of why I am producing this handwritten record is to create a balance of the time I spend on the many activities I take part in and to see where I truly spend most of my time.

On the following page, I set up a key very similar to that recommended for bullet journaling. Against each action, I use the keys to allow quick referencing.

This donates a task

With a X through it denotes a completed task

With a > over it means it has been moved to the following week/month

­ This is for notes

* This is for important or priority events

° This is for special reminders, birthdays or anniversaries.

You can use the original bullet journaling keys, set up your own system or do as I have and use a mixture. Use whatever you think will work best for you.

On the next page I have set up an index and I will write the page numbers from each of the pages I use with a note about what is on that page so that I can find them later quickly and easily. I have then left a couple of pages blank and then headed up a page, Hopes and Dreams. I have left plenty of room to add to this but take the list you worked on before, write it in here and use the bullet keys so that you can track what you have achieved from this list over the year.

As I said, I am putting all this into a handwritten journal. If you are using Notion, Trello, or a similar computer system you will find that they have these pages set up for you. Notion has calendars set up with a dashboard page for you to start listing your events. You can set up different pages for different groups or functions you want to record. It is easy to set up, but if you are new to it, my advice is to keep it simple. One brilliant function I use in Notion is the ability to take notes during a meeting and then email those notes direct to the meeting attendees. I will continue to use this function throughout the year as it makes life so easy for me.

But, I have always been an advocate for the handwritten product, something my husband and children tease me about, telling me to move into the 21st century. As it happens, at the time of writing this blog, the Notion service was unavailable as their system is hosted by Amazon, whose servers were down for five and a half hours. My handwritten journal suddenly became King! Ha!

So, continuing with the handwritten theme, I started to map out the contents of my journal and, being in a hurry and not wanting my first pages to look messy, I decided to find a free download of annual, monthly, and weekly calendars to cut up and past in. Maybe I will start preparing earlier at the end of this year but, for now, I went online and printed out a year’s calendar and cut it up to fit across these two pages.

Next I printed out the following Jan/Feb/Mar on one page, followed by Apr/May/June on the next, flipped over to the following pages and put Jul/Aug/Sep and then Oct/Nov/Dec, listing the dates under each month followed by the first two letters of the weekdays. (see above)

Over these four pages for the 12 months, I wrote in the important dates, such as birthdays and anniversaries, which I need to remember. I know this all sounds a lot, but this is only once a year and frankly with this virus around, you are not going far!

I then downloaded and printed out a month per view to fit across two pages and wrote in the meetings I have scheduled for the month so that I can see where I can fit in other events and on the following four pages, I printed out the day, two per page with a time span to the side so that I can quickly see what must happen at certain points throughout the day.

Following the calendar stuff, I have four more pages which are important to me. The first one is a simple Check In page, split into three headings, Emotion, Physical and Spiritual. Stay with me now, I am not going all weird on you! The Emotion section is just to see generally what kind of week I have had and record the very worst and the very best of those seven days. The Physical is because I really need to leave the house, despite the lockdown. I have found that my legs don’t seem to want to work properly because I have hardly left the house since March 2020. I am too young to lose the ability to walk so I need to monitor my activity and record the number of steps I take each day.

The Spiritual part is about me recognising how nature makes me feel. The wonder of the planet and the sense of there being something greater than myself. Being stuck in the house all day is not healthy for any of us, so trying to find a way to connect to something more meaningful brings me on to the next couple of pages I have set out for myself. The next page I have entitled Brain Dump. This is where I intend to write down the silly thoughts which enter all our heads, telling us we are not good enough or that we are too fat/thin, rich/poor. You get the idea. I do not want those thoughts floating around in my head so I will dump them on a page and then draw a physical line through them, or maybe even a series of prison-style bars, to lock them away.

The next page is going to be a Habit Tracker, where I simply tick y/n to having recorded the previous two pages and, finally, I have a Gratitude page for the month. Here I intend to write down every day three things for which I am grateful. I highly recommend you all have a gratitude page but don’t over think it.

On my first day I simply wrote: 1, I am grateful for finding Jamie, (my new virtual assistant); 2, I am grateful for all the tech support my son gives me (I would struggle without him); and 3, I am grateful for my family’s support. I am hugely fortunate that my husband and my sons provide me with support for all the ventures I am involved with.

So, going back to Monday 4th January, when I started using this written system in earnest, I created a long list of things I need to achieve on that first day. Did I complete the list? No, but at the end of this week if I haven’t finished it, I will place the > sign over the sign and write it into next week’s weekly ‘to do’ list.

So, start writing up your calendars and list and I will check in with you on this in a couple of weeks’ time.

I hope the photos of my journal have helped explain the process but please if you have any questions do contact me and I will do my best to help. I can even email you the spreadsheets I have set up for myself if that would help you get started.

I mentioned that ‘balance’ is my word for 2021. This is my main focus this year as I need to get a lot of stuff done, but I also have some other words which are important to me this year which are Gratitude, Health, Strength and kindness. They are words I live by in my life regardless, but I want to recognise these words and have them visible to me on a daily basis through this year.

Having a specific word or a small collection of words with one being the main focus, is a good way to help you achieve your goals throughout the whole year.

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