Coloring toward goals

I found an article earlier today in an email list I’m part of. Basically, the premise is that a woman, Amy Jones, had a large amount of credit card debt to pay off. To inspire her to actually pay it off, she drew a¬†doodle with a number of swirls in it and committed to herself that for each $100 she paid off, she could color in a swirl. It was a way for her to visually track how she was doing on her goal. Now she is selling her maps so other people can do the same thing.

I absolutely love this idea. However, because I’m currently paying for college, I don’t have the money to buy one of her maps (I hope to some day when I have more disposable income, as they’re lovely!). However, I do have a printer and an internet connection. So I found these two mandala coloring pages:

mandalas_mandalas23a34_007 mandalas_mandalas35a46_019

I couldn’t decide between the two and so I’m going to print them both out and work on two different goals. There’s somewhere between 35-40 things to color, so I’m going to use both of them to create a habit. One is going to get a piece colored in if I accomplish 75% of my to do list for each day (now on a sticky note, more on that in a later post). The other will get a piece colored in if I get up on time (I have a bad habit of sleeping in later than I should!). When they’re each completed, I’ll get some sort of reward. I haven’t decided what yet. And by the time they’re completed, hopefully they’ll both be habits and just automatically happen!

I’ll report on how this is working as I make progress on it. What goals could you use a visual map for?

Returning to planning

Yesterday evening I did something that I haven’t done in a couple of months. I sat down with my planner and actually planned out the most important things I wanted to get done today. It used to be I did that every night before going to bed, but somewhere along the way I lost the habit.

In the past, I would make enormous lists and rarely ever accomplished everything I’d set for myself to do. This time, I chose the three most important things I wanted to get done: laundry, a large planning session for my life, and this blog post.

I had forgotten how wonderful it was to get up in the morning and know what I was going to do today beyond just when I needed to be at work. I actually had a plan today!

My planning session this morning was even better. A couple of weeks ago I made a list of my highest priorities (or what I wanted them to be). Today I decided to group them into four categories: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. This was easy to remember and helped me limit my focus, as I decided each month I would set a goal in each of those four areas. For example, I decided that my desire to become more organized would fit under physical, as it often involved my physical space and time. (It made sense to me!) For this month, I decided my goal would be to use my planner by planning every night and completing my top three to do items each day. I have a sneaking suspicion that doing so will help a lot of other things fall into place in my life!

Beyond identifying my priorities and setting goals, I also made a to do list of things that I needed to get done this week. I can pull my top three to dos each day from that list now.

Honestly, doing this has been such a relief. And limiting myself to a top three things that absolutely have to get done in a day is also a relief, because when they’re done, even if I didn’t get anything else done today, I know I accomplished the most important things to me. And three items is actually do able. Sometimes in the past I would have 5 or more, especially if I had a lot of homework due. When I couldn’t finish them all, I felt like a failure. Thanks to my depression, I can feel like that without any sort of cause, so no need to set myself up for failure in planning and time management!

As the saying goes, “He who fails to plan plans to fail.” How has planning helped you?