Working in a non-profit organization for over five years taught me the importance of setting concrete goals and establishing a monitoring and evaluation system to help us keep track of our progress and steer us back to the right track should we veer, among other things.
In one of the workshops I’ve attended, I learned about the Theory of Change and the process of identifying a specific goal, how to break it into long term and short term plans, and how to create a timeline on a yearly, monthly, weekly and daily basis to ensure that what we do every day will contribute to the realization of our ultimate goal. I thought then that such process can also be applied to our personal goals. But since I decided to not think about ‘big plans’ yet at the moment because I still don’t know what it is I really want, I will instead focus my energy into making sure I spend each day doing the things I am passionate about and hopefully in the process I will be able to figure out what ‘big project’ I want to pursue.
The ‘big project’ I was referring to is something in addition to becoming a lawyer. Becoming a good lawyer requires one to study diligently so I make sure that each day I also allocate some time reading law books and cases aside from doing my other passions.
Now, here’s the thing. Some people don’t even know what they are passionate about. I am the opposite. I enjoy taking pictures, writing/blogging, reading, knitting, cooking, baking, meditation, yoga, video editing – a lot! That’s why it can also get frustrating trying to identify which one I should focus on. So instead of asking myself what is it really, I will just attempt to do them and see where the process will lead me. Thus, being mindful of how I spend my day is the first step at ensuring that this year will not be another wasted year spent mindlessly.
So how do I know I am on track? On January 1, I began to journal my daily activities, learning and realisations. Sometimes I would write whenever I feel the urge particularly when something came up that I didn’t want to forget but most of the time I would write before going to sleep. The first time I did it on new year’s night, I was appalled to see how little I accomplished that day. The nights that followed were filled with the same dismay at how I was not able to maximize my time. I was particularly disappointed when most of my day was spent on delays – when I had to go through a delayed boat departure, delayed van departure, or long queue at a mall counter.
What are you tracking if you don’t have a specific goal?
It’s not that I totally don’t have a goal. I don’t have specific goals such as opening a business venture, publishing a book, winning a Pulitzer award or what have you, but I do have a goal and that is to mindfully spend my day doing the things I am passionate about. My daily journal keeps track of this. Am I doing the things I am passionate about? Or did I spend the day slacking?
I then came up with an idea of having a weekly review of my activities. This is what I meant when I said in my previous post that it’s not necessary to make grand plans for the year because identifying one’s goal is a process and being mindful of how I spend my day is the beginning of the process. True enough, when I began to be mindful of my day, I came up with ideas I would not have thought about before and one of them is to do a weekly review of my activities. The weekly review is designed to help me celebrate my little victories, identify my weaknesses and assess areas for improvement.
My first week of January 2018
I am happy to report that I successfully avoided soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. I plan to continue not drinking them for the whole year. What happens next year is yet to be determined. Vowing never to drink them until the end of time is such a huge goal which will only make me too overwhelmed and overwhelm leads to failure. The key is to make short-term achievable goals first then cross the bridge when I get there.
I was also able to read 40 pages of civil cases on New Year’s day! This was such an accomplishment given my tendencies to avoid work or school work during a day of celebration. And because I was able to do that on a special day, I was able to encourage myself to spend time reading law books every day no matter the duration.
Unfortunately, aside from those two key wins, my week was uneventful. There are definitely more areas to improve. I did yoga just once – for only 30 minutes – though this was also because I was feeling sickly for three days. I felt nauseous then better the following day then suddenly hit by a cough the day after. In fact I was supposed to do my weekly review yesterday but my body felt extremely heavy I ended up sleeping most of the time. I wrote just one article. Did two sessions of 10-minute meditation which was a total shame! And I didn’t finish reading a single novel; I’m not even halfway done!
Overall, my week wasn’t fully maximized. My study time fell too short even though I knew I could have spent more time on it. The same with meditation where a 30-minute session in the morning and before sleep would have been totally achievable but I just didn’t do it. The yoga failure I can forgive because I was really feeling awful though I have to give myself some credit for being mindful of what I eat and drink.
Hopefully this week I will be physically healed and will be able to spend my days better than last week. One thing is for sure, this weekly review is very effective at drawing my attention to how lazy I was, how I’m not able to fully appreciate the time I was gifted to spend; it is a good motivation to keep going and to keep changing for the better. I knew I’ve been good at wasting my time in the past but reviewing my week like this gave a whole new perspective. There’s something about it that gives me that needed boost to actually, really change.