I learned a lot last year about the power of thought and persistent action. I noticed that the things that were important to me when I sat down to make goals and write my dreams, weren't always the same things that showed up in my day to day activities. Sometimes tasks that fell in line with some of my most important goals didn't even make it on to my to-do list. I knew this was a real problem, but I wasn't sure how to hold myself accountable with my intentions.
Then, I found a planner that I just couldn't pass up. Let me preface this by saying that I'm not much of a planner girl. I don't get into the the whole idea of the "Life Planner" and I don't need a planner to help me keep track of my appointments and commitments. I didn't know what I was going to use this planner for, but I knew that it would some how help with the problem I was facing.
I bought it, brought it home, and laid it open on top of my dresser. Since it was November and the planner didn't start until January, I had time to think about how I was going to make the best use of this opportunity. Day after day, I looked at it and thought about how it was going to help me stay on top of the things that I want to accomplish. Slowly, the path towards being accountable to my intentions lit up.
I have prepared next week in my planner, intentionally. This format is less about recording what happens and more about being accountable. Monday through Friday are all the same, since I can bank on being able to work on those days. Saturday is a wildcard for work and no work is ever done on Sunday. Each night, and sometimes throughout the day, I record what I've done to move forward in each of the areas of my goals. Let's look at this more closely.
Starting at the first line, I record the Money In and the Money Out for the day. This line keeps me intentional when it comes to my spending habits. If I don't want to record what I've spent money on, it keeps me from spending it. So far, this financial accountability has been incredibly helpful. Continuing on in the left hand column, I have my priority for the day. Note: This is ONE thing. This is not "priorities", it is my priority. Then I continue on in with my five areas of focus for the year. These areas are Earn, Development, Outreach, Future, and Memoir. There are several activities and tasks that I can do to fulfill each of these areas. For example, for the Development focus, I can take a class, read a book, or work on a new technique. At the end of the day, I write one or two words next to whatever area of focus I worked on. This is not meant to be a detailed account, it is simply meant for me to acknowledge what I am or am not paying attention to. However, not every area of focus will be touched every day. I pretty consistently reach the first three areas, Earn, Development, and Outreach, every day, but I use my planner to make sure that I get to each area on a weekly basis at the least.
On the last line I have Incompletes/Irritants. On a separate piece of paper, I have made a list of all the projects that are incomplete and all the things in my environment that I find irritating, but easily changeable. This might seem odd, but here are two examples how this has made a difference. 1. The outside lights of my house have been hideous since the day we bought the house in 2012. Every time I've pulled up to my house, I've noticed the lights and hated them. I finally got new outside lights and now, instead of feeling annoyance fill me up when pulling into the drive, I feel satisfaction and joy. 2. Our laundry hamper broke a few weeks ago and we've been using a box. Not a nice box with holes for hands and easy carrying. A crappy, awkward box. Every time I did the laundry, I hated carrying this stupid box three flights of stairs. I bought a hamper and now the experience is polar opposite.
Next to Incompletes/Irritants, I have my Unexpected Extra. This space encourages me to look for the good in the day and acknowledge the fantastic things I have received. I particularly love filling in this space!
The checkboxes on the right help me to remember things that don't necessarily go on a to-do list. The first is to get up at 6AM. The second, 30 + 10 is an interesting, but beneficial practice. In an effort to build my confidence, I spend 30 minutes focusing on the person I intend to become and 10 minutes on developing self confidence. If you feel like you lack confidence, I would encourage you to adopt this practice. It certainly makes a difference! "1:00" is to remind me to repeat and visualize my affirmations in the middle of my day. I have a 1:00 alarm on my phone, but sometimes it gets put on indefinite snooze, so I need this back up to help me be accountable. The Mirror Exercise is done at the end of the day. This is a principle I learned from Jack Canfield in the Success Principles. The point of this exercise is to increase your positive self talk by verbally appreciating yourself while looking in the mirror. The mouthwash is pretty self explanatory! Haha!
Some of my practices seem odd or different, the Mirror Exercise probably being the foremost among them, but they are all aimed at helping me create a better life and be more successful. Each of the exercises helps me have the confidence, determination, and persistence to be intentional with my time, energy, and money and go after the things that I really want.
Everything here is aimed at being intentional, whether I am being intentional about pursuing my goals, spending money, or the thoughts that I cultivate in my mind. It all adds up to my intentional year.