As the new year approaches, I’ve already seen more than my share of 2018 planners. Advertisements on Facebook pop up promising the next best planner! Follow these steps to achieve your goals in one year! Launch your business! Make more money! Reach your dreams! As I browsed through them, I realized they were all operating on the same principles and each planner had merely arranged those principles in slightly different ways or used different styles or levels of detail.
Which begs the question: why are there so many planners? Why do so many of them advertise they are the next big thing? The way to achieve your goals and dreams? The answer to all your problems? What is the difference between that and scratching out your goals on a piece of paper, breaking them down, and working consistently with them every day?
In my eyes, not much. I don’t think the problem is the type of planner you’re using, and I don’t think a certain type of planner has all the answers any more than I believe a certain type of self-help book will heal your life. A planner that suits your style and works well for you is helpful, just as certain self-help books will jive with you better than others.
But the fundamental issue isn’t the type of planner: it’s that people consistently don’t follow them.
I’m someone who has dreams and goals but struggles to follow them consistently. I like seeing progress, and sometimes working with baby steps feels like you’re going nowhere at all. So I give up. Yet I still want to achieve my dreams. So I go online and look for the next amazing planner. Then the next. Then I discard that and try a new one, all in the hopes that one of the planners will motivate me enough to finish what I start.
The issue lies beneath the type of planner and invites deeper questions. Why am I resisting change? Why do I avoid pursuing my dreams? Why do I struggle with consistency?
I believe the deeper questions and the deeper work are what invite change. Maybe I’m resisting creating these blog posts because I feel my style isn’t unique enough. Maybe I put off searching for a new job because I’m scared of the unkown. Maybe I’m scared of not being good enough, of failing, or even of achieving my goal and not knowing how to handle all the uncertainty and change.
Until I inhale those feelings, dialogue with the resistance, and better understand what I need on a deeper level, how will I be able to stick to my goals? If I don’t understand failure, small daily habits, and enjoying the journey, how will I continue moving forward? A planner helps on the surface but doesn’t address what lies beneath. Planners are useful for afterward—when you have worked with your resistance and know you can consistently (note I did not say unwaveringly!) follow small daily habits. Until then—and many times along the way—what’s needed is deep work. Turning inward, breathing, feeling, asking, receiving, giving, exploring.
It doesn’t come overnight. You may trek steadfastly toward your goals, stumble, quit, and wonder if you can try again. You may pause and turn inward multiple times, reassessing your goals and your progress. Understanding what makes you happy along the way. Understanding the journey is just as important as the end goal. Understanding that if you don’t achieve your goals in one year or if you change them during the intervening months, that’s ok! Some of the planner advertisements promise the world, and while that would be great, be kind to yourself and realize those promises are unrealistic. Better to note you are moving forward—even if slowly, even if two steps forward and one back—than put too much stock in whether or not you’ve achieved your end goal yet.
Because along the way, you will discover a lot about yourself: your needs, your desires, your boundaries, your growth, who you are as a person. And that is just as valuable as losing thirty pounds, making more money, or opening a new business.
Best wishes for 2018! I challenge you to make your goals for this year but to set the theme and tone as one of kindness. Practice kindness to yourself and others, and set your primary goal as one of growth: to learn more about yourself and practice meeting your needs and tending your inner and outer world lovingly, with patience and gratitude. Reach for the stars, but don’t forget to enjoy floating through the clouds, circling the earth, and surveying the universe on your way there. And if you fall? We all do. Breathe, feel the wind whipping past your face, cry, ask, probe, and then, starting small, climb back up, taking your new knowledge with you like treasure from the muddy depths.
Challenge!: How do you normally view your goals? Do you frequently give up, resist them, procrastinate, or do you consistently taking small steps toward them? How do you view failure and resistance? Are you afraid, excited, overwhelmed, hopeful? Share below how you view your goals and how you approach them. Then pick one goal you would really like to achieve, share it, and also share the biggest struggle you foresee yourself hitting as you work toward that goal. That struggle will point at what needs attention below the surface even as you start incorporating daily habits to move you toward what you desire. Stay tuned as I explore this topic more over the next weeks! Happy New Year!
News: You will start seeing symbols next to some post topics. These symbols indicate the topics are part of the same series. For example, I’m going to follow the theme set in this post throughout the ensuing weeks, and if the series intrigues you, you can follow along! Different series will use different symbols, and I’ll have them grouped in the Categories section as well. Find this one under the category for ✶ New Year Series.