Checking in with 2018

Somehow, LORD KNOWS HOW, it's suddenly June. We're already halfway through the year, and I'm just over here still trying to stop writing "17" in the YY section of forms. This time in the mid-year, right in the middle of the crossover from spring into summer, feels like a good stopping point to check in with some of the intentions and goals I set for 2018.

Back in January I challenged myself to consistently bullet journal for the whole year. It was a method I had used in the past for tracking cleanses or organizing unusually hectic months, but I wanted to try using it as a more daily system for achieving goals, keeping organized, and increasing mindfulness by checking in with my days. For the first two months of the year it worked spectacularly, and I felt extraordinary satisfaction ticking those little boxes every evening, especially during my detox from processed sugar, alcohol, and wheat in January. It proved a handy way to reflect on how my day was, and spend some time before bed letting go of what had come before and what needed to come next, and just existing in the present.

Then, around March I started setting myself far more time-consuming goals, the effects of splitting my time between Colorado and New York started to truly hit me, and looking after my grandparents became more and more intensive. So each night I checked off fewer of those little boxes, and began to resent the sight of my cheery little notebook taunting me with unmet tasks. I eventually wrote off most of March as a lost cause, and figured I'd start afresh in April, but, unsurprisingly, not only did the month's boxes remain unchecked, I never even had the time to finish setting up April's charts at all.

Clearly, my needs had changed, and I had to rethink what would serve me best in May. Instead of the satisfaction of hyper-organization and tight record-keeping, I needed the freedom of setting intentions and a far less tangible goal for the month, and then letting go and letting myself meet each day the best I could. Though in a less intense manner than in previous months, my bullet journal was still there to remind me of my goals, and there were certainly times when I needed the nudge:

Drink water.

Try to eat well and work on the tiny house.

Mostly, BREATHE.

It served me really well. Despite incredibly emotional experiences, both expected and unexpected, in the first half of the month, I went on to get a good deal of work done on my build, and started to see the shape of my house as a home for the first time, exactly when I needed home most. I took time to mostly feed myself well, and worked on not sweating it when I didn't. I met up with friends when I was up to it, and didn't when I wasn't. Mostly, I breathed.

For June, I felt I needed to keep things similarly open, though with some tangible, achievable goals on the house build to help me get back into a more daily check-in with my bullet journal. I'm thinking for July I may go back to a daily log, but instead of checking off items accomplished, I'll list three happenings for which I was grateful that day. Seems like a good, low-pressure way to root in each evening.

A feature of my bullet journals that I absolutely love was just a fleeting idea that, at first, I almost didn't pursue. I decided to add year-long aims in the back of the journal, to serve as a backdrop to the monthly challenges. Most of them are fixed goals: "Visit at least 5 new states this year," "Read at least 24 books," "Blog at least 50 times." Others are less success-oriented: "How many more Catskill high peaks can you climb," "Things to try to keep in mind this year." It's been really nice during these last couple of months to know that, even if I wasn't using the journal the way I'd initially envisioned, I was still working toward those objectives at the back of the book.

Now, halfway through June, I'm feeling less unsettled and itching to set daily goals again. But I'm thankful to have taken the time to sit back and take stock of things. It was so helpful to figure out when I am comforted and supported by strict plans, and when I need the freedom to just let what happens happen. It never, ever hurts to take time to get to know yourself better, and revisit how you look after yourself. Humans are far from static, and keeping in touch with your various ebbs and flows is a really important part of self care. We're organic. We change. So, try to remember that the next time you go to judge yourself really harshly. Most of the time we're all just doing the best we can, and what our best is changes day to day.

#personal #bulletjournal

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