Sometimes it seems easier to just give up than it does to start over. That's why some people never get their house organized, complete their passion project, or lose that weight they want to. It's easy to get excited about the possibility of achieving a goal, but it's much harder to see it to completion.
I'm here to tell you that I have been there — lots of times. I'm actually there right now! A few weeks ago I vowed to lose 15 pounds in 6 weeks. It's been —honestly, I don't even know off the top of my head how many weeks it's been — but it's been a few weeks, and I'm not even close to my goal. It would be easiest for me to just throw my hands up in the air and say, "This is too hard. I'll never lose weight." and just quit trying. But I'm going to propose a different way. I'm going to simply start over.
I have been successful in completing goals and even achieving more than I set out to in the past, so I'm going to look closely at those instances to try to figure out how I was successful. One example that comes to mind is the e-book I decided to write and publish in 6 weeks. Even looking back, I'm not sure how I pulled it off, but I did! I have a finished product that I'm really proud of, an e-book for sale on my website called Get Started Head First.
After that experience, I was really pumped up and felt like I could achieve anything. I gave myself a week off, and then jumped right back into another 6 week sprint — the one where I was going to lose 15 pounds. Well...I've already told you this experience has yet to be successful, but why?
When I really sat down to think about it, the answers were very simple. In order to achieve a difficult goal, I need a strict framework to keep me on track and focused. I didn't have that for this attempt at weight loss. I think we will all agree losing weight is hard for lots of reasons. I wrote about my struggle in a previous post, Weight: A Heavy Topic. After the high of finishing a 6 week sprint with my e-book, I think I forgot how hard it really was, so I didn't spend the time and effort in the planning stage to set myself up for success.
Here are the things that made me successful in achieving a goal in the past and how I am going to apply them in the future:
Accountability and Honesty
In my previous 6 week sprint, I publicly announced my goal and my time frame, and I did weekly live videos to report on my progress. This time, I also publicly announced my goal and my time frame, and I did one weekly live video to report on my progress. As soon as I realized I wasn't on track and my progress wasn't what I wanted it to be, though, I stopped checking in. Without that accountability, it was too easy to fall back into old habits. I wasn't even being accountable to myself because once I saw that the scale wasn't moving in the right direction (and sometimes in the wrong direction.) I stopped weighing in and recording my weight feeling like I'd be better off not knowing how I was doing. It soon became easy to go back to my old way of eating since no one would know.
This time around, I'm going to be stickler with accountability. I'm going to check in on my Facebook page with a live video every week to let you know the good, bad and the ugly of how it's going. I'm going to be honest with those I'm accountable to, including myself. Ignoring my shortcomings or even lying about them doesn't help me move in the direction I want to go. I will write down my food and weight daily even if I'm not proud of them!
The 6 Week Sprint Worksheet I used for writing my e-book was filled with small, bite-sized goals. When I filled out the worksheet completely, I was successful. I started out setting 6 weekly goals, and then broke those down into daily goals at the beginning of each week. This time around with my weight loss goal, I did set 6 weekly goals, but when I just looked back at my worksheet, I realized I only ever set the first week's daily goals and after that, I just walked away.
Without small, achievable goals written down so I could physically see them, I got overwhelmed and felt like I was failing at the whole goal all of the time. If I could have focused on just one day's goal, I would likely have been able to conquer that one thing at a time.
This time around, I'm going to put a daily reminder on my calendar to review and log my progress. In addition, I will create a weekly reminder to set daily goals for the upcoming week.
As much as I want to be able to do a million things at once, the truth of the matter is — I can't. I distinctly remember after finishing my e-book, and deciding on my next 6 week sprint that I couldn't decide between two things: losing 15 pounds and improving my online presence for My Life In Order. So what did I do? I decided to do them both! That was a mistake because I haven't done a good job on either of those projects. I was afraid I would be bored if I only chose to focus on one or the other. It's so easy to look back and see our faults, isn't it?
What I needed was true focus. Obviously I would still have to do all of my daily tasks and responsibilities, but to take on something "extra," it needed to just be one, focused thing.
This time around, I'm going to choose me and my health as my true focus. As much as I love My Life In Order and enjoy trying to figure out how to gain more followers, newsletter subscribers and potential clients, that's going to just have to fade into the background for now while I focus on my true goal of getting healthier for the next few weeks. My hope is that soon that healthy lifestyle will become one of those daily tasks and responsibilities and no longer feels like an "extra." When that's the case, I will take on a new project, but until then - one focus for me!
How about you, do you want to vow not to fail, but instead to start over with me? It could be anything you want it to be. Download a free 6 Week Sprint Worksheet, and give it a try. Just make sure you have:
How many times have you bought a brand new, pretty journal with good intentions to chronicle your life for future generations? After about three lengthy, detailed entries in your best handwriting, did you turn to a couple of scribbled sentences for the next few days and then find it buried in your night stand weeks later? What then? Do you jump back in or just come to terms with the knowledge that you’re just not the kind of person who uses “journal” as a verb?
I’ve been through this cycle several times — I’ve tried journals with dated pages, journals with built in fancy ribbon bookmarks, and journals with lined, dotted and grid pages. I’ve even given a gratitude journal and a bullet journal a go. Each time I’ve had the same experience when I tried to do it the “right” way — I only keep up for a very short time until I give up.
What if you could get all the benefits of journaling without all the guilt of not being perfect at it? Well, I believe you can! Here’s my formula for journaling YOUR way!
Throw out expectations
The very first thing you should do is throw all of those expectations you have of regularly journaling in beautiful script in great detail out the window! I’ve learned that lowering my expectations of myself is one of the most important things I could do to help me feel more in control. I wrote a whole post about it here.
Don’t worry about how you think it should be or what others have told you is the correct way to keep a journal. Instead, quickly jot down what appeals to you about keeping a journal. For me it was getting my feelings and ideas out of my head so I could begin to understand them. My journal is for me and me only, so I decided it didn’t really matter how my journal looked or was formatted or how often I wrote in it. Once I dropped the expectations, I began to use my journal for its real purpose a whole lot more!
Decide what matters to you
There are many uses for a journal, and you should decide which of them are meaningful to you. Choose one or many of these 10 ideas for your journal, and then you can personalize your approach.
Personalize your approach
Once you've identified which of the above are important to you, you can start using your journal! The only real rule that I abide by is writing a date on the page. This helps serve as a frame of reference when you look back at what you've written.
I use my journal in all of the ways I shared, and I switch fluidly between uses based on what is needed to achieve my purpose for keeping a journal in the first place. I just want to get things out of my head so I can begin to understand them from a more objective point of view. It doesn't matter how often or rarely you write, as long as your journal is a resource for you when you need it!
My approach is obviously going to be different than yours, but that's the beauty of journaling your own way. It is what you WANT it to be! If it's a personalized approach, it can't be wrong, just different than someone else's. I start with a blank journal and just fill it with what meets my needs, but if that is a little intimidating, you may want to try something like The Guilt-Free Journal for Women by Jan Silvious. Though I haven't tried this book myself, the description sounds awesome, "Here's the perfect way to break the guilt cycle! Packed with creative writing prompts and encouraging Scriptures, this whimsically illustrated diary has no calendar references, so you can write when you want to, and enjoy it! "
"...that's the beauty of journaling your own way. It is what you WANT it to be! If it's a personalized approach, it can't be wrong, just different that someone else's."
I like to get a new journal every January as a sign of a fresh start. I looked back at my entries for this year so far, and here is what I saw:
It's a lot of fun to read what I was thinking and feeling throughout the year. From these entries, I can see some goals I accomplished, some areas I'm still struggling with, and find some fresh inspiration to get back to projects I've put on the back burner. If I had put myself in a box and not used my journal if I didn't fit into it, I would not have these things to look back on and learn from.
I challenge you to stop feeling guilty about not keeping a journal the RIGHT way, but instead determine what you could gain from keeping one YOUR way!
Photo by Ana Tavares on Unsplash
Carroll, Ryder. “Bullet Journal.” Bullet Journal, bulletjournal.com/.
Silvious, Jan. Guilt Free Journal. Living Ink Books, 2002.
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!