I have a terrible memory. Horrible. So bad in fact, that my husband says to me on a regular basis, “Your memory is like a sieve.” True fact. I’ve discovered that the only way to keep myself on track is to use a calendar journal. When I was in the States on our last trip, I discovered a fabulous two-year calendar book with Goal Setting journal prompts and a supplemental book with hundreds of stickers. This calendar book works for me because it allows plenty of room for daily journal entries and the stickers make me happy. I’m a product of the Lisa Frank generation. I. Love. Stickers!
I’ve been journaling on a calendar ever since I was an apprentice to a real estate agent who imparted these words of wisdom upon me. “What gets writ, gets done.” Basically, if you write it down, you’ll do it. This has been a HUGE impact on me. I can’t tell you how lost I’ve been when I’ve stopped journaling in my calendar. My goals fade into the chaos of everyday life. My tasks that I want to accomplish get lost in the endless amounts of interruptions from my children and husband. My appointments are lucky if I remember without writing them down. Journaling in my calendar book is the glue that binds me together. It’s the visual “voice” that I need to stay on track, stay focused, and to continue to forecast future goals.
If you haven’t started this amazing Life Hack yet, here are SIX PROMPTS to help convince you to add this routine into your life. I can guarantee you I’ll be journaling in a calendar book until the day I die because of the AMAZING BENEFITS it adds to my everyday life.
- Journaling in a calendar allows you to forecast your goals.
Do you want to run a 5k on a specific date? Do you have a wedding to attend and want to learn to ballroom dance? The best way to reach that goal is to log it in a calendar journal. First, log in the “End Date” at which you want to have your goal accomplished. Then, count back to today’s date. You’ll immediately see a visual representation of your timeline. Do you have enough time to reach your goal? Going from a person who “only runs if someone is chasing me with a knife” to a person who “runs a 5k from start to finish” isn’t going to happen in a month. Make sure you give yourself enough time, and flexibility to accomplish your goals. In between your starting date and your deadline date, create “mini goals” that you feel are achievable for YOU. I like to write my “mini goals” in the spine of my calendar book for each week. These smaller accomplishments allow you to feel successful throughout your journey. My mini goals don’t have a specific date to them, rather just give me a goal to strive for just for that week. Some of my “mini goals” are nothing but grocery lists of healthy ingredients I’d like to include into that week’s meals. If I achieve them on a Wednesday or not until a Sunday it matters not. Without accomplishing “mini goals” I’d never reach my ultimate goals because they’d seem too far out of reach. You can’t climb to the top of a ladder without stepping on the rungs.
- Journaling in a calendar holds you accountable.
There is no better way to hold myself accountable than to write my goals down, in pen, on a target date. I can visually see the target date getting closer which prompts me to keep practicing, exercising, and trying. Some of my goals have nothing to do with exercise. Sometimes it’s a nutrition goal (eat at least 7 vegetarian meals per week) or a consumer goal (find plastic free alternatives to buying bread). Some of my goals don’t have a target date, some are very target-date specific. Either way, writing them down, looking at them daily, revising and reconsidering – all keep me actively engaged with my goals which holds me accountable daily, weekly, monthly, and even annually! What an awesome feeling it is to look back over the past month’s calendar entries to see just how far I’ve really come.
- Journaling in a calendar provides daily inspiration.
Every morning I refer to my calendar book. Some days I’ve already added stickers and goals for the day, which I LOVE! Maybe your calendar journal provides daily quotes, jokes, or recipes. Maybe your calendar book has bible verses in it that make you feel inspired and connects your spiritually to your day. No matter what kind of calendar you choose, make sure it fits your style and gives you plenty of room to write. Did I mention that mine comes with a book of stickers? Stickers!!!
- Journaling in a calendar keeps you on track.
Remember those “mini goals”? Mini goals are necessary to keep you focused on your ultimate destination. Without smaller, more attainable goals, you may get frustrated with your progress and lose track of exactly how far you’ve come from where you started. There are times where I have to change my goal deadline because of illness, vacations or other emergencies. I remember the two weeks I had to take off from hiking Spur Road due to a bronchial infection. This pushed my ultimate goal of hiking to the top of Spur Road within 20 minutes back a bit. That’s ok! There’s a reason why erasers and white-out have been invented. There’s no shame in changing your goals, timelines or methods to get there as you discover what works for you. Unless your goals are for life-saving medical reasons, you can take your time to get there. One step further every day is still one step further than you started.
- Journaling in a calendar keeps you in focus.
Changing your lifestyle can be a long, complicated process. For most, it involves YEARS of changes and dedications involving a myriad of personal adjustments and challenges. If your goal is to reduce your blood pressure, for example, this could entail an entire 180 in your life. These changes don’t happen all at once. They take time, dedication, and focused energy to accomplish. Keep your focus in check by tackling one or two “mini goals” at a time. First, maybe you just need to add 15 minutes of physical activity per day. That’s a big dedication for someone who’s never been physically active a day in their life. Focus on that one thing in your calendar journal. After you feel that you’ve successfully adopted that one healthy habit goal, move on to another. So then maybe your next focus will be, “Increase activity to 20 minutes per day and drink one extra glass of water per day.” You’ve already accomplished 15 minutes per day, successfully, so stepping up your minutes and adding on an extra glass of water is an excellent Step 2. Once those are implemented, keep adding! “30 minutes activity per day. 8 glasses of water per day. Discover 5 ‘low sodium’ alternatives to my 5 favorite meals.” And so on, and so forth. Your “focus” is to achieve your mini goals which all lead to your ultimate goal.
- Journaling in a calendar makes you a better person.
No BS! You’ll begin to notice that you are more on top of your appointments and responsibilities. You’ll notice that you have a healthier attitude towards “adulting”. You’ll notice that once you achieve one goal, you want to set another! There’s no reason to journal in a calendar if you don’t set goals for yourself. You’ll realize that you can do more than you thought you could. What a great feeling to mark off something you’ve always wanted to accomplish because you actually did it!!! You’ll be more conscious of your time and your obligations. I’ve discovered that I will be less likely to over-commit myself if I have a visual account of where my time will be spent for that week. If I have a particularly busy week and all of my spaces are filled in, I’m more likely to politely refuse a request to volunteer or help out elsewhere if I see that it will put me in a bind. Self-care is essential. ‘Type-A’ personalities, like myself, tend to burn ourselves out. Blocking out time for myself and for my self-care prevents me from burning out and mentally snapping and THAT makes me a much better person towards everyone.
Do you journal? Do you journal in a calendar? What are some of the experiences you’ve had establishing your own calendar journal? What works for you? What doesn’t? I’d love to read your comments!