Making your Vision & Goals Part of your Real Life + a how-to video
The difference between my goals gathering dust in a drawer somewhere and their actually becoming a part of my life is whether or not I’m keeping them in front of me and using them to plan days. Planning is personal, and everyone has to find what works for them. This post is about what works for me, basically a walk through of my planning process (it's a combo of ideas inspired by What’s Best Next, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and The Power of Habit with a little Essentialism sprinkled in).
I’m sharing my process as it pairs with Pace & Pattern (surprise, surprise), but I think the concepts can be applied to whatever tool you like best.
I feel so much better about how I'm using my time when I spend a few minutes at night thinking about what matters most and what I want to see happen the next day. The funny thing is it doesn't really matter whether or not my to-do's actually happen as much as it is about feeling proactive and aware of where my time is going vs. life just happening to me.
Planning the Month
1. What’s coming up this month?
I write down all the big things that are already on the calendar for this month, so I can get a better sense of how much time I have. For instance, if I know we’ll be traveling for two weekends, I make my month’s action items a little less ambitious.
Since I’ve already chosen the three things I’d most love to see happen this quarter, I write those in first. I start with my habit goal, so I can keep my target in mind: coffee at home at least five days a week.
Then (if possible), I go ahead and write my rhythm down in my calendar to make it feel more real, and make it less likely to get displaced by something else. In this case it is a weekly practical planning meeting with Joseph on Saturdays where we talk money, calendar, and progress on our goals.
Last, I write down the big chunk of my project I want to complete by the end of the month. My project for this quarter is “prepare our home for new baby,” so my project to-do for this month is “purge our house.”
3. Intents and Actions Items for the Month
I write down each of my five Intents. This helps me keep my vision in mind so I can plan for the month from a “who do I want to be” instead of a “what do I need to get done” perspective. Then under each Intent, I write down a few big things I would love to see happen this month in addition to the goals I’ve already committed to. Sometimes the only thing I want to see happen under an Intent is my goal, and I’m okay with that.
Reminder: Less is almost always more. I still struggle to rein it in when I plan things. In this section, I try to only write in actions that wouldn’t happen if I didn’t write them down. Try to force yourself to focus on what is essential.
...and if you do that and still feel like you don’t have enough room to write everything down, consider using some big sticky notes. Or a separate notepad that is just for work stuff, etc.
Planning for the Week
1. What’s coming up this week?
Look familiar? This is basically the same process as planning for the month, only with a more zoomed-in perspective. I start by filling in my week with appointments/meetings I don’t want to forget. I keep the bulk of my day fairly empty- I can always refer back to my Dream Ordinary for the chunks of my week that stay the same week-to-week but that don’t usually have to be written down.
I write down how many times I want to complete my habit this week; then, as the week progresses, I keep track of it using my habit tracker. At the end of the week I will log this into my long-range habit tracker.
I write down my rhythm (if it is happening this week) and go ahead and block the time I want to dedicate to it in my week.
I look back at the steps I want to take this month towards my project goal and break it down to figure out what I need to be working on this week to finish by my deadline.
- Drop stuff off at Goodwill
- Hang art
- Buy toy storage
- Hang shelves
Intents and weekly action items
I write down each of my Intents, again reminding myself of my priorities and shaping my week around those things first. Then, I look back at the action items I wrote under each Intent at the beginning of the month and see what I can do this week to make them happen. I also add any other to-do’s to my list that need to be on there.
If I can go ahead and write an action item into my schedule, I try to do that. Otherwise I write it in my to-do list section for each day and mark it with either a check (if its done), an arrow (if it’s getting pushed to another day), or a dot (if it’s in process).
There you go! A detailed explanation of how I use my intents and goals to plan my time.
Title photo: Ashley Wittmer Photography, Model: Samantha Ringo