Social Issues

On Becoming My ‘Best Self’

Hey, good people.

This isn’t a paid product endorsement, by any means. The folks who created this journal don’t even know I exist beyond the credit card number and mailing address I used to purchase mine. However, I am wholly invested in helping other people who struggle with focus, motivation, and organization… because… *I swear there was a thought here, but I completely forgot what it was.*

See what I mean?

A few things about me before I explain this awesome discovery:

  1. I am a freelance writer for a living. I specialize in content development for small businesses, and I do everything from social media posts and blog posts to website content and ebooks. I also help business owners to discover ways to create passive income so they can focus on the things that they are the most passionate about.
  2. I’m a mom. My son is 15.
  3. I’m probably the most unorganized person I know. I am infamous for missing (or baaaarely missing) deadlines. I have post-it notes and half-filled journals and notebooks everywhere. My desk always looks like “what the hell and why?” I also have an incredibly short attention span, I’m pretty absent-minded, and I have an annoying habit of overextending myself, not because I want to, but because I’m no good at writing things down so I can see what I already have on my plate before taking on anything else.
  4. In the four years since I started my business, I had only twice met or exceeded my weekly income goal. Only twice. In four years. Two weeks out of 208.

So, a few weeks ago, I find myself at this weird crossroads. I’m struggling financially. Business is slow. Things aren’t progressing like I know they could, but I don’t know what else to do. I’m thinking, “I have a degree and nine years of teaching experience. I don’t have to keep living this struggle freelance life. I can take my happy ass back to the classroom.” I shared this decision with my best friend. Her first question to me was, “Have you really done everything– I mean absolutely EVERYTHING– you can to make this thing work? I’ll only let you walk away when there’s nothing more you can do. I’m positive that there is more that you could consider.”

She was right. I knew that part of the problem (a HUGE part, since we’re being honest) is my lack of organization and accountability. I’ve always thought that, if I took the time to get my shit together, I might actually be successful in this thing, you know? It was during that conversation with my bestie that I decided that I would give this business of mine one more valiant effort, one more huge surge of greatness, before I put it down for a salary and a 9 to 5.

Remember the old saying, “The teacher will appear when the student is ready?”

The very next day, I was scrolling my IG timeline (while trying to avoid something else that I was supposed to be doing, no doubt), my teacher appeared when I came across this goals journal. It was set up to help you stay focused on and actually accomplish three goals in 13 weeks through developing good habits, being mindful of how time was being spent, and breaking goals down into smaller action steps, making them easier to accomplish.

I then looked at the goals I’d written down at the beginning of 2017… and noticed that, as of mid-July, only ONE of them had been crossed off as accomplished.

I’m shaking my head at myself right now.

This journal had space to flesh out the three goals that would be the focus of the next 13 weeks, a place where you could write out several habits that you wanted to implement into your life, several monthly calendar pages, and then 13 weeks’ worth of day planner pages, with space to create your daily plan of action, write any notes or ideas you might have, identify the things for which you are grateful when you wake up and when you go to bed, and your target and goals for the day.

I thought about it for a second, and decided what the hell? Either it would help or it wouldn’t, but why not give it a try? Thirteen weeks isn’t a lifetime. I can commit to really working through it.

This is how it looks:

…but since I’m extra dennamug and I enjoy a hot glue gun and artsy stuff as my primary means of procrastination, my journal now looks like this:

As soon as I got it, I sat down to identify my three target goals. I wrote out my habits. I started that very night planning out every detail of my day, down to the times I stopped to eat lunch, the phone calls I needed to make and the emails I needed to send, and the tasks I needed to complete. I made sure everything I wrote was somehow connected to my goals. I wrote out those goals every day. I identified the three things I needed to do in order to call my day successful. I took the time to consider the things I was thankful for.

(Note: I’m also a person who is paralyzed by the magnitude of things. I look at a long list of goals and immediately become overwhelmed, but working on just three goals at a time is so much more manageable.)

The first week was rough. I have not lived a structured life since I was in the classroom, but living by the seat of my pants had become so draining. I made myself stick to the schedules I created, and found that, even though I needed work with my focus and discipline and sticking to a schedule, I was actually getting stuff done.

Week two was a little easier, a little more productive. I missed my weekly revenue goal by $80.

By week three, I noticed the following:

  1. I paid attention to the time I went to bed, and the time I got up in the morning. Instead of sleeping until 10, walking around in a confused daze until noon (or until I made coffee, whichever came first), I started getting up earlier. Like, way earlier. Like 5am earlier. I realized that less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours of sleep means lethargic disinterest the next day, and that if I’m up at 5 and at my desk by 630, I’m tired by 2pm but I’ve worked seven solid and productive hours.
  2. I’m a morning person. I am at my best before noon. I had no clue.
  3. My weekly income has increased.
  4. I’m more productive. Planning out my day the night before makes me pay attention to how I’m spending my time. I schedule the task I am dreading the most to be my first task of the day. I MAKE MYSELF COMPLETE THE TASK, no matter how much I want to move on to something else.

I hit my revenue target on Thursday of Week 4.

I’ve also been reading more, drinking more water, and spending more time writing, as these are the habits I listed that I wanted to be more intentional in creating.

I’m still not as organized as I’d like to be, but taking the time every morning to plan my day and every evening to reflect on what worked and what didn’t during the day has done so much for how I see myself and how I value my own time, which, in turn, will change the way others see me and value my time.

I don’t think there’s a magic solution to getting it together. Some of the apps and systems that my friends swear by did absolutely nothing for me, but this journal has been a game changer.

Here are some of my actual entries. (Drawing and coloring are a therapy of sorts to me. Before the journal, I was using a coloring book. This is how I decompress.)

 

Again, I’m only sharing this because I know how difficult it can be to navigate a brain that is never quiet, to feel ashamed because you forget to do things, and to feel unorganized and frustrated all the time. This system has made all the difference for me, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to see if maybe it could work for you, too.

Happy Monday, fam.

 

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