love thursday: putting love, goals and journaling together

A page of my current journal.  Photographed with Nikon D300, 60mm micro lens.

It was so great reading all of your amazing goals in yesterday's post.  Your goals are all so good-hearted, and so true.  I know it was scary to share them here in such a public space, so I want to thank you so much for being brave and generous and sharing them.  Amazing.

It occurred to me as I was reading them (and preparing today's post), that I've recently written several posts that are somewhat related to following my bliss and achieving personal goals, and I'm feeling the need to tie a bow around them, in the off-chance some of you might find it useful.  So, if you'll permit me, this week's Love Thursday post is going to be unconventional again -- I promise to return to our regularly scheduled Love Thursday posts after this one.

So.  A couple of weeks ago, I told you about my method of determining what I love -- it was very methodical and analytical, but what can I say -- I have a deeply methodical and analytical side to me.  And then yesterday, I shared a couple of my long-term goals for myself.  Happily, there is some overlap between what I love and my goals (and hopefully, if you've been doing these exercises yourself, you're going to see some overlap as well.  If you don't, you might want to revisit them:  I strongly believe that your goals for yourself should be framed by the things you love to do -- otherwise, your goals are going to feel more like chores to complete, rather than accomplishments to strive for).   Now, here's the point where I grab my journal -- and if you're interested in trying this method out (even if you're not a journaler -- trust me, what I'm about to say is something that should appeal to everyone), here's what I would do:

1.  Get a journal.  If you already have a journal, great, use that, I'm not about to mess up your system.  If you don't journal (or already have a special purpose for your current journal), then go get yourself one.  I personally love moleskines -- they're simple, professional-looking enough that you can take them to work with you if you work in a conservative field, they have an elastic strap to keep them closed, they open flat (which is often rare in a non-spiral-bound journal) and the best part, they have a pocket in the back, where you can store small papers, postage stamps, etc.  They come in lined and unlined versions -- I like the unlined ones, so I'm free to write as big or as small as I want, or not write in a straight line at all, if so inclined.  But regardless, get a journal that feels right to you, no matter what it looks like.

2.  At the beginning of your journal (or wherever you happen to be in your current one), write down your long-term goals.  Don't make too many of them -- for now, three's the number that's working for me.  You can have more, of course, but don't have so many that they become overwhelming.  You'll know what the definition of "so many" is.  And if you only have one goal, that's okay, too.

3.  Use the rest your journal for daily to-do lists.  This is sort of in line with my friend Jen Lee's method of journaling -- where you don't write just lofty thoughts in your journal, but use it simply to record all your thoughts, happenings, things you want to remember, whatever.  If you're not a journaler, this is just where you put your daily to-do lists.  And these aren't fancy to-do lists, either -- in addition to listing any appointments you might have during the day, the to-do lists could include "go to supermarket."  "Trash day -- put the trash out."  "Send e-mail to that guy about that thing."  Whatever.  And then enjoy the little pang of accomplishment as you cross items out during the day.

4.  EVERY DAY on your daily to-do list, include at least one item that is in furtherance of at least one of your long-term goals.  It doesn't have to be a huge task.  Say, for example, one of your long-term goals is to own your dream house in 5 years.  Then today's to-do might be:  "Buy a copy of Metropolitan Home Magazine for dream house inspiration."  Or:  "Call bank to see if they have free financial planning services available."  Or:  "Watch 30 minutes of a home decor show on television." Or:  "Put $20 in my downpayment-for-a-house money jar." 


Obviously, sometimes the tasks that you'll list will be actual milestones toward achieving your goal, other times the tasks might be sort of ... well... fluffy, but the point is to keep your long-term goals at the forefront of your daily life.  If you're a journaler, you might add some thoughts around achieving those tasks in your journal.  If you're not a journaler, that's okay too -- your "to-do" journal will just be a lovely record of what you're doing to attain your goals, as you strike through each task.

Anyway, this is what I'm doing, and it certainly makes me feel like I'm staying on task.   One, somewhat related point:  recently a commenter noticed the coloured pens that I photographed in this post, and she asked what I use them for.  To answer that question:  I love colour in my journals (as you can see from the image above), and even though the contents of my journal are fairly straightforward and analytical and uncreative, I add colour for visual interest.  So I use coloured pens primarily as highlighters (because actual highlighters remind me too much of my corporate former life) -- I make clouds around words, or underscore points I want to remember, using different coloured pens.  Also, at times (though not all the time), when I'm feeling really fancy, I'll add a watercolour to my page before writing -- just to add some zing.  Obviously, none of this is required for your journal/to-do list.  Do what feels right. 

(But just to finish the thought:  I use these coloured pens, and when I feel like adding more colour to the page, these watercolours -- but before adding the watercolour, I gesso the page first, so the page doesn't curl up, and the paint doesn't bleed through.  Just FYI.)

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And now, to business: choosing the winner of a print from the current selection in the online store.  According to, the winner is Tamsin, who said, among other things, "one year from today, i will finally become an american citizen."  Thanks so much for participating, Tamsin!  I'll contact you via email to get your snail mail address and your print choice.

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On that note, Happy Love Thursday, everyone!  Feel free to leave your comments, love stories or links to your words or images of love in the comments below.  And here's to reaching your goals, and living a life you love.


SongA little bit more by Jamie Lidell