My foray into "bullet journaling" has been a little shaky. I first started coming across this concept through random posts on Instagram and Pinterest that began to pop up on my "things you might be interested in" feed. They most likely started to show up because of my regular searching for and liking of all things organized. I am a planner geek and proud of it!
My first "real" job was at the Franklin Quest store (later Franklin Covey) at the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. I was obsessed (as any true Franklin Planner fan was). It was not just a planner; it was a lifestyle. That was the beginning of my love of planning.
That is also where I got my first "digital" calendar...the beloved Palm Pilot. It was the coolest thing ever! When I held it in my hand after signing the receipt confirming it was really mine, I felt like Ralphie in a Christmas Story holding my official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
It was amazing.
Since, years ago, having accidentally dropping my dear Palm Pilot in a public toilet while bending over to pull up my pants one afternoon (too much information?), I have bounced back and forth between multiple planning systems, both paper and digital. Although most of my life is currently neatly contained in a Google Calendar, this whole bullet journaling thing is pulling me back to pen and paper.
As I have perused posts offering a myriad of suggestions and examples of how others are creating their bullet journals, I have taken tons of screen shots. I now have about 300 pictures of bullet journal pages that have one or two things on them each that I really like. However, therein lies my problem.
I have the motivation to do it for myself...but I am overwhelmed with information and do not have a plan. Have I done anything yet? Of course, not.
During this process, I realized THAT is really what can trip people up sometimes in following through with something they really DO want. They are motivated and they are excited to do it. They think about it and talk to everyone about it and tell them how cool it is. But, have they done it yet? No.
The answer is because motivation does not help you succeed. It is having a process to walk-through that takes you on the journey successfully. After all, if you have a road map or GPS telling you what to do next, the journey is not only easier, but much less stressful.
Here are seven integral pieces to creating a process that will allow you to get from A to B in whatever you are trying to accomplish:
This may sound pretty "duh," but too often, we jump into things out of excitement and do not take the time to make some choices as to how we are going to do it. Some simple, yet necessary, questions to ask yourself and answer in the planning stage are: What exactly am I trying to do? Do I have a time frame in which I want to accomplish it? What are the things I need to gather or obtain in order to do it? Do I really want to do it, or do I just think it is a cool idea...for someone else to do? How will I know when I reach my goal?
In order to accomplish anything, you need good answers. However, you rarely get good answers unless you ask good questions. Take the time (it does not have to take long!) to stop and think about your what, why, when and how. Investing your energy in this on the front end will ensure you have a much better chance for a positive outcome on the back end.
2. REAL HABITS
It has been said that being disciplined is better than being motivated. Do you know why that has been said? Because it is TRUE! Discipline is doing what needs to be done even when you don't want to do it. This is where setting up real habits for yourself is key.
Once you have clarity on what and why and when and how, those pieces need to be put into daily tasks that you check off no matter what.
Habits are powerful and that is an understatement. What you do on a daily basis determines what you get in life. Show me your habits and I will show you your life. Show me your life and we can easily see the daily habits that got your there.
“We become what we repeatedly do.” (Sean Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens)
Looking at your plan, choose one thing and begin to implement it daily, without fail. At some point, you will realize that it is harder to NOT do that one thing than it is to forget about doing it. In other words, you will know you created a real habit when you HAVE to check it off your list every day for your own satisfaction. Once that is now a part of you (a real habit), choose one more thing and repeat. You may be amazed at how quickly you can "stack habits," see results, and be more productive and successful.
The most obvious tool for this component is a calendar or planner of some type (try a bullet journal...I hear they are all the rage). Once you have done some planning and identified some habits that need to be incorporated to make that plan happen, you need somewhere to schedule steps and keep track of your progress.
There are SO many options to do this. Here is my one piece of advice...DO NOT OVER-THINK THIS! Pick something that is simple and easy for YOU to use. If it is a blank notebook and a pencil, great! If it is an app that keeps track of everything in your life, great! If it is a shared calendar, great! The only MUST in choosing your organizing tool is that is works for YOU. If something is cumbersome or complicated to use, you will not use it. If something is simple and stress-free to use, you will embrace it.
Find an organizing system that you can embrace. It will become your best friend.
Stop thinking about doing something, stop talking about doing something, and just start!
Nike has it right, Just Do It! It is unfathomable to think about the inventions and music and books and teachers and movies and artwork and true inspiration that will NEVER be shared with the world because someone did not feel confident enough to "put it out there."
“Feel the fear and do it anyway!” (Susan Jeffers, Author of Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway)
Think about this; if something you try does not work, 99% of the time your worst case scenario is that you are exactly where you are right now. That's it! When you think about it like that, it is freeing.
Many people would tell you that "thinking positively" will help you to see opportunities and get better results. Those people are absolutely correct! But if you would like to take that to the next level, you do that by also thinking confidently.
Nothing happens without confidence. OWN IT! The most important component to doing that is to take an inventory of your self-talk. We are our own worst critics and we are not nice to ourselves. You get in your own way more than anyone or anything else ever could. The beauty of that? YOU can do something about it. Take inventory of what you are telling yourself...and CHANGE THE SCRIPT. This is often referred to as "reframing" your thinking.
Just as with habits, what you THINK repeatedly determines what you get.
Here is an example...every meteorologist will tell you that there is a 20% chance of rain on a given day. But why do they never tell you that there is an 80% chance of sun?! It's the same thing! The only difference? With the first, you go through the day waiting for it to rain. With the second, you see the sun, even when a few sprinkles show up. The perspective change makes a HUGE difference in your life.
Give yourself a chance for a positive outcome. Where is your focus? Channel your thinking into things that will make you feel good. When you feel good, you feel confident. When you feel confident, you make things happen.
“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.” (Margaret Thatcher)
You are not going to get it right the first time every time. That is another thing to own. Successful people know that. Successful people have failed more than any "failure" ever will in his life. That is because an integral part of success is failure.
Try things! It is the only way you will learn what works. Once you have a plan and are working some habits and have organized them in a way that is easy to apply in your life and you are working those things with confidence, experimenting is what moves your "want" into warp speed.
The quicker you fail, the quicker you succeed!
I will allow some much bigger and better failures than me get this point across to you:
“There is no such thing as a failed experiment, only experiments with unexpected outcomes.” ~ Richard Buckminster Fuller
“The true worth of an experimenter consists in his pursuing not only what he seeks in his experiment, but also what he did not seek.” ~ Claude Bernard
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~ Thomas Edison
There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing. ~ Aristotle
One of the biggest roadblocks we put in our own way is that we over-think everything making things more complicated than they need to be.
According to Wikipedia, the KISS acronym ("Keep it simple, stupid") was a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
Simply put, if you make it easy, you make it do-able.
Any time you are altering familiar habits and making conscious choices to do things differently than you have done before, one of the most powerful components you can have is support.
Support can look a lot of different ways: a partner, a friend, a co-hort, a group of people who are wanting to accomplish the same goal, even a person who has no idea what you are trying to do but is a good listener. From friends, to family members, to co-workers, to Facebook groups, to classes, to networking, to just trying something new; support reminds you that you are not alone. It reminds you that there are a lot of people on a similar journey as you and that all of your minds and ideas together make it happen faster than you could make it happen alone. It reminds you that we are all willing to help each other get to where we want to go...and those places may be very different from one another...and that's OK. After all, my journey is not your journey and that's a great thing.
It bears mentioning that if you are asking for support from someone who is negative or argumentative, give yourself permission to step away from that person. Toxic support is not support.Toxic support will ensure you do not accomplish anything. Keep this in mind when YOU are doing things to improve YOU:
“The major mistake people pursue in decision making is to surround themselves with negatively minded people. People who are going nowhere will never take you anywhere; people who are going everywhere can take you somewhere.” ( ~ Israelmore Ayivor, Dream Big!: See Your Bigger Picture!)
Negative and toxic people are at their finest when they see others improving themselves...it is not you, it is them. It is a person's greatest shortcoming when they feel they need to use their energy to demean or criticize someone else instead of using that very energy to improve themselves.
In summary, when you have a process, it is easier. When you think through what step one, step two, and step three actually are, the guess work and confusion and questioning lessens significantly and allows you to take action. Sometimes it even disappears and all you are left with is a clear path.
As you make changes in your life, always use your PROCESS:
Now go and change your world!
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