- What: an analog system for pushing dreams/ intentions/ goals → reality
- When: throughout 2019 calendar year
- Where: everywhere, courtesy of the highly portable Weeks package
- Why: a hands-on system for hammering out the year’s plans AND maintaining a can-do perspective
- How: using a dedicated Hobonichi Weeks as maestro, to maim / tame inner critic Poindexter, while harmonizing related notes in an A5 Hobonichi Cousin
Waving Goodbye to the Comfort Zone
Lotsa good stuff hangs out in the area outside one’s comfort zone. But every facet of one’s being fights the move, in the form of natural resistance. The Cheerleader-in-Chief of resistance? Poindexter, a/k/a inner critic dude.
✦︎ Snapshots re Resistance
- “Simply, your comfort zone is a behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk. It provides a state of mental security.” LifeHacker: The Science of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should)
- “Your brain, just like your body, needs training. Neurons that are weak, unused, or that don’t fit the job are pruned. Neurons that are exercised get stronger and develop more connections. . . When you start reaching a point where your inner voice tells you ‘stop,’ that’s when you need to keep going.” Medium: The StartUp: How to Leave Your Comfort Zone (for The Better)
- “A person’s ‘comfort zone’ is called that for a reason: It’s comfortable and safe. However, your comfort zone can also be a place of stagnation — one that keeps you from seizing opportunities for growth, just because it involves something unfamiliar.” Forbes: 13 Mental Tricks To Get Yourself Out Of Your Comfort Zone
✦︎ Goals / System and Leaving your Comfort Zone
Awareness of natural resistance opens the door to curative measures. I’ve tried several tactics, including self-lectures. Bombed, because Poindexter retained his elevated position on center stage. Stated differently, ya can’t unring a bell.
To tame Poindexter, I read more, experimented more. As I scrutinized his tentacles, I absorbed two critical facts:
- Poindexter’s kryptonite = being ignored, belittled, or abruptly dismissed.
- Just as an unpaved road impedes travel, so too does a self-management system void of anti-Poindexter tricks.
Combine those lessons with this declaration from the article, Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead:
I noticed: my “I’m gonna” intentions sometimes fell by the wayside. Yet, anything incorporated into a daily process proceeded as planned. Because my personal experience validated the system vibe, I doubled down on outstanding issues, implementing a system where possible. To illustrate, let’s focus on my blog-related intentions, resulting in my development of two interrelated systems.
One system revolves around a 2019 Banana/ Yellow Hobonichi Weeks. Creating a BuJo-hybrid —a MultiYear Blogger’s Bullet Journal— yielded an immediate positive impact, which continues to cast its enriching shadow. In essence, a record of blog posts going back to 2017 feeds social media postings. Indeed, the laser focus attending this site’s cosmetic revamp planted the seeds for a second Instagram account (@writesquire = nature; @writesquire_bujo = bullet journal matters).
One exception occurred, during the December 10, 2018 week as regards the Facebook Page. During that timeframe, a loved one was surgically treated for prostate cancer. Spending time in the hospital brought to mind many things. I had previously entered posts into electronic schedulers, except for Facebook. Thoughts of dealing with the latter morphed into sheer irrelevancy.
Returning this discussion to goals, a 2017 stab at an analog Editorial Calendar bombed, big time. Then, no system existed beyond a standard paper month calendar. The failure etched a learning experience:
- nestle the steps leading to the desired end result within something enjoyable
- eliminate tedium (e.g. repetitive spread drawing)
- establish a hand-in-glove relationship among all related components
- make sure the primary BuJo/ system remains within reach at all times.
The Hobo Weeks, unlike every other planner, tics all boxes, providing structure while allowing flexibility.
The second system materialized in the wake of a glaring oops kidnapping my attention. Succinctly, that system focuses solely on pushing 2019 dreams into reality.
The Birth of my Anti-Poindexter Hill System
Soon after I finalized the MultiYear BuJo, a semi-annual review pulled my coattail. The lack of a systemic approach to goal formulation and implementation resulted in scattered notes and other ills. Poindexter belched from the feast.
Meanwhile, I noticed my growing prowess —in smacking Poindexter into the time-out corner— coincided with assigning his name. Intuition suggested actually seeing my inner critic as a full person would further muscle my tame-the-bunionhead efforts.
✦︎ Serendipity Adds a Face to the Name
Think: swatting at a mosquito in the dead of night spells mission impossible. But flip on a light, and it transforms into a doable task. Likewise, my commitment to neutralizing Poindexter stalled after pinpointing his name. Why? I stumbled —consistently— in trying to put a face to his nefarious persona. He remained too abstract to confront and tackle.
Call it a failure of imagination. Poinny feels like a muscle-ripping blood-dripping fang-toothed blend of Incredible Hulk and vampire. But that appearance makes his dubious character too obvious. The dude acts more like a backstabber masquerading as best friend, doing his dirt in the dark. Until the mask falls, I remain clueless. By the time I become aware of the treachery, the damage has already materialized.
Serendipity rescued me. While looking for Hobonichi Weeks-sized Memo Pads at Amazon, a few 2019 Weeks furrowed my brow. First time I saw the models. But none slowed my scrolling hunt, until one Hobo sneered at me. My peepers popped when they landed on a certain cover, the uppercut punching my senses with one knee-jerk thundering thought: OMG! IT’S POINDEXTERRRRRRRRR!!
The formal name of that Weeks? Deep breath: → Hobonichi Techo Weeks: Tadanori Yokoo: 109-Faced Painter (Japanese/Wallet-Size/Jan 2019 Start). This lazy tongue prefers Poinny Weeks.
Everything about the face depicted on that cover shouts trickster, including Poinny’s eyes locked on his target. His nose appears with a downward arrow ending at the tip of his mustachioed gangstah mouth. The magician-style top hat caps the visual glory of his gory chores. The outer circles mirror his relentless harassment. And ohhhhh, those inner circles —proof positive I CAN cut HIS cheeks to the bone!
No mistaken identity, folks. This S.O.B. personifies the dude who dogs me. (Sorry Old Boy. Ha! Fooled ya, eh?! 😆)
I raced to the Hobonichi site to answer a deal-breaker question: hardcover or softcover? With the requisite “hardcover” box checked, I returned to Amazon to move the $31 weirdly named Weeks to my cart.
Why was/am I so enamored with this book? My thinking: if I can see it, touch it, grab it, manipulate it … I can wrest control away from it. In short, by forcing the abstract into a physical form, I’d literally see myself as the larger force.
Constructing & Polishing my Anti-Poindexter BuJo
Experience teaches: goals and motivation are notoriously fickle. One day, they’re all over each other professing undying love. Another day, at best they glare at each other, refusing to speak. I resolved to design a system friendly to both extremes of that relationship.
✦︎ Preliminary Stage: Mapping Usage
My standard planner purchase rule: buy nothing until AFTER I’ve mapped out precise usage per section, down to Notes pagination. I allow myself to skip one section during that preliminary stage, but only one.
Pulling a legal pad and archived Weeks from the shelf, I jumped into step one, i.e. match each section of the structured layout with a Poindexter-related purpose.
Step two witnesses actual implementation. This hands-on experiment unearths the not-so-obvious pitfalls. My mission in this respect: discover the pitfalls, fix ’em, or walk away from the shopping cart.
✦︎ Structuring, with a Nod to Purpose
Crucial nuance: build “sumdin” into the system, targeting and massaging my can-do mindset on a (weekday) daily basis.
To keep a firm eye on Poindexter’s adroitness, I indulge:
- weekday twice-daily mindset tweaking, via my HCB (HeadCheck Bookends)
- Weekly Reviews / Planning
- Monthly Reviews / Planning
- head / spirit rejuvenation food (a/k/a quotes)
That last rejuvenation item glorifies the simplistic. Read: every BuJo component includes two sections: Quotes, and Gratitude. I don’t eat every meal at our dining room table. I munch where I want, when I want. That flexibility carries over to the spirit food portions of my bullet journal system.
As regards the HeadCheck BookEnds, the Cliff Notes version for now: 8 mini-prompts. 5 completed preDawn, the remainder before bedtime. The serial brevity of my responses rat-a-tat-tat’s the craved positive mindset.
Poindexter remains one heckuva sneaky hombre. Because an unacknowledged Poindexter can stop me in my tracks, my bullet journal includes both discovery techniques and workarounds. Consistent reviews unveil patterns, typically sourced in otherwise hidden fears. Poinny’s power pulsates in darkness. Shedding light on patterns shrinks Poindexter’s she’ll-never-know muscles.
Thus, the entire configuration of my Poinny Weeks resolves the predictable interplay between his personality, and mine.
Year View → Self-Care
Once during early college years, I found myself sitting all pitiful looking on the side of a highway. My humpty’s gas tank read “E“mpty. No cell phones way back when, so no quick-rescue mechanism. Grrrrr. Refusing to duplicate the mistake, I’ve replenished fuel as needed since that lonely highway debacle.
In a similar vein, I seldom reach for a dead phone or iPad. I comprehend the need to recharge mobile devices daily. Yep, yet another learned the hard way deal. Sigh.
You’d think I’d apply at least some of that good sense to Pam.
Standard self-care tracking, attempted in varied BuJo containers through the years, failed. Why? Blending those checkboxes into a generic tracker camouflaged the uniquely critical nature of self-care.
I don’t treat filling the car’s gas tank as a hobby, nor a habit to entrench. Rather, I respect it as a necessity. Nor does any essential electronic device appear on a when did I last list. Deep within, I get it: pay attention to these mechanical items or suffer the consequences. Through this Poinny Weeks, I’m hammering self-care into a recognized necessity, seeping deep into my psyche.
Bottom-line: I stopped reducing self-care to mere checkbox status. Now, it gets its own area, shared with no other concern. When my core delights, Poindexter takes flight. Turns out, the dude’s a chump. Confront him —with emotional intelligence— and he slithers away. Self-care plays a huge role in that regard.
Through this self-care section, I’m retraining myself to keep an eye on my core’s fuel level. Admission: reshaping a life-long bad habit proves difficult, but it can be done. Especially when a mechanism is in place to encourage that specific ongoing task. Read: a system.
✦︎ Nailing respect for self-care
My maiden attempts at devising a self-care BuJo key targeted the top 7 slots in the Year view. Abbreviations for hanging out with friends, milkshake treats, manicures, and the like populated the slots.
Then I realized: my true concern lies not with the activity itself, but rather it’s impact. So I pulled out my correction tape, and took another bite of this get-it-togetha-SherlockReena apple. Ultimately, I opted to mimick a car’s gas gauge.
I drew a half-circle at the top of the page. It reflects 3 increments, each colored, spanning Empty to Full.
Example: I fill my spirit’s tank by, say, spending an hour on the phone with a cherished but geographically distant friend. The impact of that old-school (!) conversation fills my tank. Therefore, I color that day’s slot green.
If I do nothing special for me the next day, I enter a downward pointing arrow. Mandatory! The arrow procedure tells my essence I must check in, daily, to formally discern the status of me.
If 3 serial arrows appear, I color the 4th day-slot yellow. 3 arrows after the yellow slot triggers a red-filled slot.
The scheme cements awareness. My intent: never exceed 2 solid weeks of ignoring my base needs. To cure the red alert, I may
- grab a camera, visit a park, and chase birds with my lens, or snap clouds
- hit Barnes & Noble for cheesecake and hot chocolate as I read assorted magazines
- go hang out with a homie
- grab hubs for a foe-real date night (harder than it should be given his whacked work hours)
What’s crucial: I pay attention and respond with curative action as dictated by this section’s cues. Notice: this goes well beyond the typical NetFlix binge. Couch-potato fun activates few senses. Me greedy —me wants ever’ding in on the fun!
Tested? Yeah, October into mid-December. I tweaked to ease discerning patterns, if and when they appear. Specifically, I drew a thickish line (Flair pen) under every Sunday slot. This gifts a triple view within the same single facing-page set: week, as well as month and year. This underscores my planning-book mantra: exploit what is, in terms of native features, to maximum benefit.
Other Views within the Hobonichi Weeks
The above discussion hones in only on the month columns comprising the Weeks’ Year overview.
I also enlisted the Notes and horizontal weekly sections in my anti-Poindexter / pro-Pam crusade. Before delving into the nitty gritty of my treatment of those sections, you should comprehend my overall approach.
The Poinny Weeks serves as GPS system, the maestro for my dreams.
Dreams → Plans → Reality
For the purposes of this system, I fashioned 7 umbrella life areas. Anything more becomes unmanageable. (Yeppie, been there, done that. Ugh!) Each is color-coded, my nod to the space-challenged Weeks. The colors eliminate the need for text labels. This means I can color one block, devoting the rest of the line to describing, e.g. a project child of the parent category.
Speaking of space, understand: the main trick involved throughout this system is simply this → I don’t fight or bemoan the space issue. Rather, I embrace and exploit it to make my planning life easier.
The dream-to-reality scheme, in a nutshell, involves four essential prongs:
1️⃣ Mindset: Woot! Won the big lottery months ago.
Why start with this mentality? It eliminates money as obstacle or motivator. Once money evaporates as a consideration, the mind and soul enjoy direct communication. Result: dreams sourced in genuine passion.
2️⃣ New stuff means I’m a toddler. Map the big steps.
Mindmap → annual → quarterly → month → week → daily. By telling myself, upfront, I’m a toddler, I prep my booty for the inevitable fall(s). There’s sufficient junk in my trunk to coerce a bounce-back. Might as well use it, right?!
3️⃣ Indulge the 5-Why’s Technique.
For each desired end result, I want the true “why” etched in my essence. Only the 5-Whys Technique provides that truth. I write that why next to each desired end result / goal. The day will come when the trifling part of my personality will shout “futz this” out of frustration or the like. At those moments, the fuel for continuing = my why. Proof?
Exhibit A: Law school. I’d been out of undergrad several years when I decided to secure a doctorate in law. Once in school, I was ready to quit every other day. My why held me in place. I chose law school because I was sick and tired of businesses futzing over my twice-widowed mother.
My compromise: I completed that education within two rather than the usual three years. Yes, maximum credits, year round. Yes, while also working a part-time job.
I was, and remain, aware of Pam’s strengths and weaknesses. I can force myself to tolerate just about anything for two years. But accepting near-daily torment for three solid years is pushing it. Bottom line: worked.
Exhibit B: I threw each of 30-odd books against the wall while studying for the bar exams of 3 states. But I picked up each book, continuing my studies. Yeah, I cursed blue streaks, but I kept hitting the books. Why? No way in hades would I take the same test a second time, courtesy of flunking. Worked.
You don’t have time for all the evidence at this woman’s immediate disposal. Grasp the lesson → your greatest strength = knowing your weaknesses, and devising workarounds. Knowing the “why” of your desired end result remains the greatest workaround on this planet.
4️⃣ Cheat! By starting at the end.
My mindmapping works in reverse. That is, I start with the desired end result and work backward.
Quick example. Let’s say you visualize a kid hugging you to death, so very grateful for the difference you’ve made in her life. Your title? Child advocate. Problem: you don’t know squat ’bout no child advocacy stuff.
Cheat sheet: Search at Amazon, in the Kindle department → child advocate. Use the “Look Inside” feature to study the ToC —Table of Contents— of 4-5 star books on the hit list. You’ll discern the basics when certain phrases pop up in each ToC. Want more basics?
- Google, restricting the search to pdf files and PowerPoint slides
- Google, restricting the search to .org, .gov, and .edu domains
- YouTube: skip those under 10 minutes, i.e. the disguised gimme-yoe-money ads
- TED Talks: a festival of nuances, gained from experience, = pot of gold!
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Change your thinking. Don’t know nuffin ’bout birthin’ no babies in your dreamed-of field? Fabulous, cuz you ain’t got nowhere to go but up. Guaranteed progress! Me wubs dose odds!
Now ya know why I dubbed the Poinny Weeks my Hill System!
You listen to everything you say, through your mouth and in your head. Words count. Doubt me? Query: Why does one of the few premier books, surviving through generations, devote its entire opening chapter to the innate power of words (i.e. “Let there be light …“)? I submit: because thoughts manifesting as words cause action.
I choose not to focus on the word “goal,” because it inherently suggests I won’t win til I complete/ achieve much later in the year. Can you spell frustrating reality?
Instead, I visualize myself creeping up a hill. Any progress = progress = win. Winning instills it’s own fuel; ya get a taste, ya want more. Bonus: it smacks the taste outta Poinny’s denigrating mouth!
I carefully chose my analog tools because my Leuchtturm days schooled me. I wanna use what I like; I duck things I dislike. I dang near tossed the whole idea of bullet journaling because I grew to despise the Leuchtturm. Research gifted awareness of Japanese calendars. Love ’em, so I relish opportunities to use ’em. Result:
Until we meet again, some suggested homework. Grab your favorite beverage, plop in a comfy chair, relax your posture, close your eyes, and dream. The date is January 10, 2020. Ask yourself: what precise end results, materializing in 2019, spark the widest smiles? I’m talkin’ ’bout grins so intense you’ll be reaching for 🚑cheek crutches🚑! The more “out dere” the dream, the better. And it should scare ya. If ya ain’t scared, ya ain’t stretching beyond your comfort zone.
Next go round, we’ll delve into the analog specifics for the remaining Hobonichi Weeks sections, wrapping up in time for a planning festival during the extended holiday period. And yeppie, I’ll show you how those 7 life categories ease on over into the Cousin for daily implementation.