When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)
There has been a lot more action in my life since The Book was born. Allow me to introduce you: it’s a pretty modest looking thing from the outside. It’s a secondhand three ring binder. On the front, in plain typeface, it says: Madeleine Michele Lohman. That’s me. On the inside however, is where the magic happens.
The Book owes its existence to a multitude of sources. It’s part Book of Me, from Havi Brooks’ excellent blog The Fluent Self. It’s part Zen to Done, from Leo Babauta. And it certainly benefited from my participation in a Vision Mapping party, a la Gwen Bell.
But from there on, it’s all me. I actually refer to The Book as My Manual, a sort of Standard Operating Procedure for my life. The first chapter is “Daily Reminders.” This is a fluid list of the things that make my life better if I do them regularly. Walk the dog I’ve got in the bag. Take a multivitamin I’m still working on.
The meat of My Manual is the “Current Projects” chapter. I work quarterly – I’m currently in the middle of December/January/February. I consider what my personal goals are for the quarter, and what projects I am/could be involved in that would support those goals. An example of one such personal goal is “Stay positive and proactive during a generally dismal time of year.” An example of a project is “Completing the content for my website, madyoga.org, and publishing it.” Then I create what Zen Habits calls a Next Action list for each project. What are the specific steps I need to take to get ‘er done?
The Next Actions move from My Manual to My Calendar via a delightful system of Neon Sticky Notes. They are immensely satisfying to tear up as things are accomplished. A Weekly Review ensures that the sticky notes are current, and related to what I need to do this week.
Sound complicated? It’s not. Sound effective? It sure is. Since the Manual evolved, things which had sat in my squishy brain – like the Website – for months started happening. Looking at My Manual, I can tell you I’ve done what I set out to do in December…and it’s only December 13th. Whoa! And I feel no need to go grab January’s plans and get started. I think I’ll read me an Oprah magazine instead.
There are other, specialty chapters in My Manual, but I’ll leave that for another time. I will tell you that scattered throughout the binder are various poems, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins. That’s from a personal goal, 2nd quarter 2010: read more poetry. And, action!