Journal Your Way To The Change You Want
I’m drinking a cup of coffee right now—a small step toward my goal to consume fewer sugary calories. My beverage of choice for a writing project is often hot chocolate; however, depending on the size of the cup, that drink can tally up to 300 calories.
There are other issues I’d like to address regarding this drink, which cost $3, is in a paper cup with paper sleeve and has a plastic lid. I could save money by making my own and use fewer resources by recycling a permanent cup. But for now, I’m focused on the calories and determining my small steps to change.
BITING OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been prone to making large goals and then failing to reach them. I enjoy the euphoria of writing a list—a tally that turns out to be more of a wish list because, without the plan of smaller actions, it simply migrates to the next year’s list. However, time is a-wasting, and I’m not getting any younger, so I’d like to turn that around.
A couple of years ago, I weighed the most I’ve ever weighed in my life, and I had resigned myself that between age, and a lack of concern about it, fatter was my fate. Then I took a step back and looked specifically at how and what I ate. It turns out that eating half a loaf of French bread with a side of cheese several mornings a week was simply too much for my slowing metabolism.
Finally (and perhaps because I’d heard others talk about the correlation between eating less and weight) I decided to consume half my usual amount of food and see what happened. I discovered I wasn’t nearly as hungry as I expected to be, and the bloated feeling I often had after eating too fast and too much was gone.
And remarkably, I did begin to lose weight. Without a complicated plan to do so, I had selected an attainable behavior that I could achieve. With the new momentum of success to fuel me, I decided to add an app to my phone and further monitor my intake.
In that example, I learned the power of the small steps to achieve a bigger goal. Now I’d like to harness that same experience to reach some of those more elusive ambitions. If you’re looking make an impact on our goals with small successes, and a handy journal then let’s work together, and I’ll share what I learn in the process!
DETERMINING THE SMALL STEPS
As I review my journal, I recognize I have several LARGE goals that rely on outcomes which I feel are mostly out of my control, because they relate to the responses of others. Part of the fun of having a business is setting big goals and envisioning the possibilities.
However, what I’ve not done as well is determine the incremental steps that will assist that bigger goal. To move from creating pie-in-the-sky dreams to accomplishments, I’m going to plan small actions that build on the larger goals. The challenge now is to determine just what exactly those “daily doables” need to be.
While searching the subject of changing habits with small steps, I stumbled onto Stephen Guise, who is the author of several books, including “Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results.” One message of his post, “How to Change Your Life Permanently with Small Steps,” is that attempting to overcome bad habits with willpower alone will lead to exhaustion and often failure.
Guise explains that willpower is a limited resource. If we keep trying to tap into it as a primary means to overcome a bad habit, we will reach a point of exhaustion. Moving away from something isn’t a sustainable strategy. The more helpful energy is to focus on moving towards small and achievable actions instead. Don’t you feel more positive at the thought of flowing with the current and how your brain works in thinking and behavior?
Guise also maintains that the use of mini habits works for creating new habits as well. Selecting bite-sized actions that propel you toward a new direction is easier because the successes entice your psyche to ramp up the actions and do more. It makes all the sense in the world, of course, because healthy brains (floating on the vibes of success) make healthier choices. By the conduit of small achievements, we invite ourselves to go for more of that good feeling.
JOURNAL AS A TOOL TO YOUR GOALS
Upon reviewing my journal entries, I have created lists of yearly goals, monthly targets, and the seemingly smaller and mundane daily lists. I’m working on honing my bullet journaling technique as I read Ryder Carroll’s book, “The Bullet Journal Method,” and already I can see glimpses of how his method helps me connect the dots between what I’ve listed what I actually do each day.
I can also see how creating an index at the beginning of the journal and numbering pages as I build out my entries permits me to review these various lists more easily. And now I understand how my monthly, weekly, and daily targets don’t take into account my big goals!
For example, I’m eager to reach the people for whom Storied Gifts and the Storied Gifts Shop resonate, but I’ve struggled as to the best way to find and meet with that tribe. Effective marketing has always been a struggle because I’ve aligned “marketing” as something negative.
While reviewing the journal, I’ve realized I need to change my thinking. I’ve decided rather than marketing; I’ll focus on reaching out to create authentic, supportive relationships with others. My new thought is to spread the word and build connections.
To glean ideas and inspirations for the smaller steps, I’m reading Ginger Johnson’s book, “Connectivity Canon.” I’ve mentioned her book in a prior post, and am still slowly making my way through it (115 pages!) as I take time to consider her thoughts and try out her suggestions.
In the past, when setting goals, I would get lost in the weeds of trying to do too many things for one list. (Think clean the garage and the basement on the same day kind of thing.) Now, as I journal my daily lists, I’m going to reevaluate to look at how the small steps specifically link to achieving larger goals.
Last week I began sending three postcards of positive thoughts per week to people I know. I developed the printed postcards featuring a quote I like with the goal of establishing written correspondence as a new habit. The purpose is to send these to people with a note commenting on something I admire about them. Thus far, it feels good, and my intention to spread good vibes is on! I’ll report more in another post on small goal-setting and let you know how it goes.
REFER TO YOUR JOURNAL NOTES
I can attest that by using the bullet method of journaling, I’ve been able to examine not only my goals but the behaviors in my daily life. I can see why I’ve stumbled for so long and will try to better align my daily “to dos” with my big goals.
Seeing this in an organized manner in the journal has helped me rethink my processes so I can realize more success. And more importantly, experiencing the achievement of small successes on the way to the goal will make the daily journey more joyful. In the meantime, I’ll be thinking small for now. Are you considering your small steps to your bigger goals?