I was asked lots of questions during the 6 week planning challenge, so I have summarised the thoughts and questions that some of you were brave enough to share.
Q How do you balance working towards your goals with still being happy with what you have now?
This can be a tricky area for sure, but definitely still possible to achieve. I believe that it is healthy and rewarding to have big, stretching goals that you are working towards. They can add a sense of meaning, structure and achievement for you every day. But… I think it’s equally important to reflect on everything good in your life right at this moment. If you focus too much on your goals, then you can end up feeling that you won’t be happy until you achieve them. It’s easy to focus on everything you have yet to achieve, which can leave you feeling despondent and demotivated – the opposite of what you are looking for! I try to do at least one little thing to work towards my goals every day, but I also spend a lot of time focusing on how fortunate I already am and where I am doing well.
I do this in the following ways:
My Daily Improvements Journal pages are probably the most important pages to help me maintain that sense of balance in my life. Every evening I reflect on my day and write down two or three areas in which I feel I am winning. Some days are harder than others, but those are the days I know it has the most value. These achievements can be large or small, it doesn’t matter, as long as I make sure I am focusing on my successes. I believe that thinking about where I am doing well, rather than my natural inclination to focus on where things have gone wrong, encourages me both to feel happier with my current circumstances and also motivates me to work harder on areas that I am still struggling with. It also helps with any self-doubt that is creeping in. I read back through my achievements every week and this gives my confidence a huge boost.
I also add my highlights of the week, again just one or two items from every day. These two pages are devoted to celebrating everything good in my life. Also, don’t you just love that quote? I don’t know where it originates from, but I found it on Pinterest and really liked that view of courage.
I also complete Gratitude and Memories pages in my bullet journal:
Again, I just spend a few minutes every evening, quickly recording something that I am grateful for.
For me, this helps me to focus on everything I am fortunate enough to have already in my life, take time to celebrate where I am doing well, along with enjoying the journey of working towards my goals. I try to let my goals guide and motivate me, rather than have any control over my current state of happiness.
Q What if my life or priorities change?
Great, you’ve recognised the need to adapt your plans. I find it really helpful to have long-term plans – they give me a sense of general direction. But, that doesn’t mean that they are set in stone. I reflect regularly on my goals, at the end of every month. I make changes whenever required, either by adapting, adding to or removing some of my goals. Kristine (back2basics_kris on Instagram) recently blogged about completing a Personal Inventory as we reach the end of this year.
This is how I completed mine. You can see that I have made progress in lots of areas, but there are still many that I need to focus on. Before January arrives, I will set out my goals for the next 12 months and continue to review them on a monthly basis. Don’t be afraid to set your goals and change them! Your priorities, available time, opportunities and desires will no doubt change, but an overall direction is still really helpful to keep you moving forwards.
Q How do you find time to work towards your goals?
Sometimes I really struggle with this. Between running my HR business, being a Mum, a partner and other personal commitments, time can feel very hard to find. Occasionally I think I have a whole day ahead to work towards my goals and creative projects, but one email or telephone call can change my whole day. So, I find time by breaking down my goals into some very tiny tasks! I also try and be creative with how I use my time.
My perfectly planned day – I’ll be honest, my day never actually plays out like this! However, it does help to keep me focused. I look at it regularly and try and adapt my day to get as close to this as possible. Other things I have started doing are:
Creative challenges on Instagram: I really want to improve my creative skills, so I have joined in with the Doodle with Us challenge and Thankful Thursday Notes. They hold me accountable as I need to complete something every day, or catch up at the weekend.
Audio books: A new thing for me! I spend a lot of time in the car visiting clients. It has always felt like a frustrating use of my time, until I had the idea of buying some audio books. There are so many books I want to read and I never have enough time. This has been a great solution for me and I have found some bargains on Ebay! Now, I no longer dread the long car journeys, I get excited about listening to my next book and what I may learn on the way.
Turn off my phone: I read somewhere that our phones and email accounts are meant to be there for our own convenience, not everybody else’s. Hmmm, that never occurred to me before. They are such a major distraction, whether it’s social media notifications, texts, emails, calls and I’ve realised that people expect me to be immediately available because I always have been. Every Friday, for at least a couple of hours, I turn my phone off. I focus on some creative projects and let everything else wait. These are my most calming and productive couple of hours of my week.
Lunchtime: I used to spend this time reading the news, which lets face it, is rarely uplifting. Now, I watch creative YouTube videos, listen to Podcasts or read inspiring books/magazines.
Afternoon walk: I often get into a real slump mid/late afternoon and tiredness sets in. I watched a Robin Sharma video recently where he referred to a ‘second wind walk’. Late afternoon I now take Barney off for a walk, whatever the weather. I definitely thinks this gives me back more time than it takes away. I use this time to reflect on how much I can realistically achieve with what is left of the day and come back energised and much more focused.
Tiny chunks of time: I realised how many small chunks of time I haven’t been putting to good use which really add up over the course of a week. There were lots of 10/15 minute slots in every day that I was not using effectively by thinking they weren’t long enough to do anything worthwhile in. It’s those moments perhaps before I need to set off for a meeting, 10 minutes before my daughter is due to come home from school, 15 minutes whilst dinner is cooking or 10 minutes before I have a scheduled call that I often spent scrolling through news, looking at social media or just staring out of the window! I have now listed lots of tiny actions that I can achieve in those few minutes, such as watch a quick tutorial, brainstorm some ideas for my blog, 10 minute dance (I call it my dinner dance!), a quick sketch, shredding old paperwork, anything which can be achieved in a few minutes. I don’t believe that every minute of every day needs to be spent in focused productivity by the way! But, if I can get things done during those small slots, I feel more able to relax in my proper down-time so this works for me.
Q How do you deal with people who doubt you or try to pull you off track?
Aah, the mood hoovers! You know, the people who can suck all positivity out of you in an instance. Aren’t they fun? In an ideal world, I would recommend not spending any time with them, but life’s not quite that easy is it. They could be members of your family, colleagues, neighbours or other people you just can’t avoid.
Firstly, I think it’s important to recognise that anybody’s opinion of you is only ever a reflection of them, not you. This means that their opinion is just that, their reflection of how they see the world, probably driven by their own insecurities and possibly a hint of jealously. They are entitled to their opinion and you are entitled to ignore it. As someone who has always tried to please the people around me, I’ve struggled with this a lot at times. However, I look back through my journal, see how far I’ve come in the last 6 months and renew my determination to carry on. My life is too important to me, to be derailed by somebody else. I also regularly remind myself of my own values.
Of course, if these opinions come from someone who is important in your life, then it is worth taking the time to understand them and what drives their opinion. Perhaps share you goals with them, talk to them about why they are important to you, ask them what they are working towards and try to bring them into your team. But, if this isn’t possible, I find the easiest way is to simply not talk about my goals too much with these people and just carry on quietly working towards them. Who knows, maybe one day I will surprise them.
I really hope you found this helpful and a gentle nudge for the rest of the year. If you have any questions or thoughts, then please do feel free to leave them below. Wishing you a wonderful week. Oh… and I have also updated The Traveling Bullet Journal page – please feel free to have a browse!