Friday, February 2, 2007

Goals Journal

Kristen at InkThinker has had a couple of posts on why writers should be journaling here and here. I completely agree with everything that's been said so far. However, I also have been using for the past 5 years what I call a separate Goals Journal. I started doing this when I found that tracking and accounting for my goals was too complicated when they were buried in my regular journal(s). So I started exploring how I wanted to solve this problem.

At the time I was learning how to recognize the dreams in daydreams and how to craft those dreams into achievable goals. You might say I got a late start. But that discussion would be fodder for another blog topic that I am not ready to go public with at this time. So back to the issue of managing goals, if one does even rudimentary research on this it is very easy to get overwhelmed with suggestions, tools (paper, electronic and reminder services) and other helps like seminars and groups.

After trying out a few of these, and being dissatisfied for one reason or another, I hit on the idea of a journal-style guidebook. Why it works for me, as opposed to charts, calendars and so forth, is that I wanted more space to write about things that were going on in the process. Because I was learning something that most people my age already understood I often needed to write about why I was struggling and why it felt out of my frame of reference.

So how do I decide if I should put something in my regular journal or the Goals Journal? The litmus test is what is the entry primarily about. But often it is not cut and dried, like the rest of life, and I just start writing until I figure out where the information needs to be. In those cases I tend to start in the regular journal to clear my thinking by getting the peripheral baggage off-loaded. Then I can write more to the point in the Goals Journal. And I should point out that my Goals Journal is more concise and I tend to write in it less frequently that my regular journal; I don't feel that as a rule I need to be writing about my goals on a daily basis which would be easy to substitute for working on them. So the result is that I have 5 years of goals writing in one fat 6x9 wirebound journal.

One of the biggest benefits of the dual-journals for me is that often issues between life, goals and creativity are interrelated and the dates in the Goals Journal entries serve as an index to the regular journal. It is possible to check on what all was going on in my life in general when I was having a specific goal maintenance issue. This cross-referencing has been very helpful in tracking the situations that have accompanied decisions and habits I want to break because like other humans I tend to operate on long-ingrained patterns that need to be interrupted in order to bring about the changes I want to make in my life.

So I thought I would share this idea that has been working for me on the chance there is someone else for whom some form of a Goals Journal would be a better fit than whatever system they are struggling with currently.

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