Resolute Resolutions

On Facebook the other day, someone posted a meme: “I should open a gym called Resolutions. It will have exercise equipment for two weeks, and then turn into a bar for the rest of the year.”

I normally avoid this problem by not making resolutions.

But this year is different. Rather than make grand plans with no clear way of getting them accomplished, I’m working on really planning my year out, with goals and with clear paths on how to reach them.

For me, this means sitting down and reviewing the year past–what went right, what went wrong? What could I have done differently? And then I need… paper and pen.

Yes, I, a former system administrator, lover of all things electronic, find doing my planning on paper better than on screen. There’s probably a really good biological reason for it, but that’s not my forte. Actually putting pen to paper just works better for me.

I used various electronic task managers and project planners in my life as a sysadmin, and they all worked to some extent back then. But now…

They just don’t cut it. Maybe because my personal life–now married and with a child–is more complicated. Maybe because running a company, even a small one, is different from running a couple dozen servers. Or because my day rarely revolves around a computer screen now. I’m much more likely to be in a workshop or a beeyard.

Last year, I started using Passion Planner (note that I don’t get a referral for this–it’s just a link). It’s paper. It’s bound. I write things down. I see months, weeks, and days in front of me. I can use different colors. I can take notes into it, and transcribe them later, if necessary. Is it the larger, clearer format? Is it using color? The ability to draw things out?

I don’t know. But where a keyboard failed me, a colorful pack of pens is working. And yes, I still have a  Google calendar, especially for my private life, where a need to coordinate my calendar with my husband’s, my daughter’s school’s calendar, her lessons and camps… But the paper planner catches all of in one place, so I can really see my blocks of time in a way I wouldn’t if it were only online.

The weeks can fill up pretty quickly… and colorfully.

Of course, part of the “magic” is that the Passion Planner encourages you to plan in a way that works: make a goal, break it down, and focus on the components day-to-day, week to week, and month to month. It has monthly questions to review how things are going, and it has nice little pick-me-ups and quotations on every weekly and monthly page. It even has my favorite, the “Not To-Do List,” because we all need reminders not to over schedule ourselves, not to doubt ourselves, not to talk ourselves out of good things, and so on.

Passion Planner
Last year was blue, this year is rose-pink. I do like bright colors for things I’m likely to have in a backpack or leave around the house. It just makes them easier to find.

There are plenty of planner “systems” out there, and the vibe of one might not work as well for you as another, so it’s worth trying a few to see which you like. Many let you print out their pages to give them a test run, even. You might even prefer to use your own binder, or personalize it for yourself in some other way.

And, like the resolution to go to the gym, buying the membership isn’t enough. You need to actually do it. You need to open that planner every morning, you need to spend quality time with it once a week and plan things out, you need to use the system for it to work. Who’d a thunk it, huh?

I went through a phase of reading self-improvement books recommended by women entrepreneurs I admire. About half a dozen books in, I started to get frustrated with the repetition. Nearly all the books were padded with examples and fillers and “life stories” that did more to fill up pages than really give advice. I realized that most of those pages boil down to this:

Make a goal. Plan how to reach the goal. Keep the goal in front of you. Work towards the goal.

(I just save you $50 in books or a few trips to the library. You’re welcome.)

Sure, there are details. How to edit the goal when needed, ways to keep the goal in front of you, what tricks you can use to keep yourself motivated, and so on. But really, that’s it.

Plan. Reacting to life can kinda-sorta work, and you might get lucky. Or it might mean, as it has for me, that you get to the end of the year and realize you never took a family vacation because you didn’t plan one!

Planning means that rather than wait for a lucky break, you make them for yourself.

So that’s where I am now. I’m planning 2017: what I want to accomplish, and how I’m going to get there. More specifics about that coming up in another post.

It’s going to be a busy year here at Avital’s.

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