As part of my series on practical ways to bring your creative ideas, dreams and designs into reality the need for every great why to have a great how comes into focus with this post on how to work with a Make it Happen Journal.
Part one of this series is all about how to set creative new year’s resolutions so you know where you want to bring into your life.
Part two details 12 practical steps on how to get started on your new year goals and resolutions with How to Start the Year Working on Goals.
Now the focus stays on the practical how to with a tool that will keep you on track every day of the year with your goals with the Make it Happen Journal.
How to Work with a Make It Happen Journal
I work with a series of tools to get ideas out of my head so I can straighten them out, turn them around and look at them more effectively. One of my favourite tools is my large white board sheets of paper. This gives me loads of space to write and draw things out and then I can put them up on my work space walls for reference and motivation.
So before the Christmas holidays I got started working on one of these sheets I want prominently displayed where I’ll see it in the morning detailing my goals for the year. It’s broken down into Goals, Actions and Weekly Actions and in the bottom centre third I wrote “Make it Happen!”.
One of the highlighted Actions is “Decide on what needs doing this day and get going with it” as this will be key for me to achieve everything on this ambitious sheet and has previously been a stumbling block for me.
I love having this focus tool and felt really pleased with myself for getting it sorted.
Then on Christmas day my mum gave me a beautiful blue fabric covered lined journal with “Make it Happen” on the front! It felt like I was in the flow of the universe and all will be well with the year. Strangely enough mum was apologising for giving me such a plain looking journal and I was sitting there beaming at her. She still thinks it a bit of a boring book and I’m even more pleased with it.
Being Inspired by Elizabeth Gaskill
On Boxing Day I love to indulge in getting lost in a novel and I dived into “Cranford” by Elizabeth Gaskell. Being a writer I am rather fussy about the quality of writing of novels and have discovered that when you read stories that have stood up to the test of time then the writing and insights have too.
One of Gaskill’s characters had a father who made his children write out in a diary what they would do for the day and on the other facing page they would write down what they actually did for the day. Light bulbs went off brightly in my head when I read this. What a clever idea. I wonder where she came up with it, was it her’s or did she borrow it from someone? I’m certainly borrowing it from her!
I’ve decided that my Make it Happen Journal will have this exact format, the closed page will have the intended activities and the open page of the book will have the actual activities.
It didn’t take long for me to decide to write up in the front of the journal my goals for the year ahead. They range from the creative to business, to marketing, to administration, to going on adventures, to health and wellness, to recreation, through to making for pleasure. They’ve taken up the first five pages. Driven on my them I’ve already completed one of the goals – that I finally finishing the king sized hand sewn roses quilt that’s been a UFO for years. The second day of the year had me putting in over eight hours of sewing to get the binding on. I’m now sleeping with the quilt and waking up to it feeling deeply satisfied and motivated.
Setting a Structure for My Goals
To ensure this Make it Happen journal works I have decided to set some structures around it, just so I know where I’m going with it.
1. First is the structure I was talking about with the goals/activities on one side and the results on the other side of the page.
2. I’ve decided I also need to date the pages and try to keep the goals/activities to one written line, two at most, so things don’t run away from me (I do get a bit carried away with ideas sometimes).
3. Given I’m at market two days a week and nominally have a day off each week for art class etc, my aim is to use this book for three to four days a week. If I can have three really productive days per week then I can achieve a great deal. I need to be focused on bringing in my income and being present when I’m at market and I do that really well. I don’t need to use the diary for that. I need it for getting through all the other stuff that’s necessary for everything else to happen.
4. Pages don’t have to be filled with actions! Some tasks (like the quilt binding) take hours to complete so only a few need be on the page.
5. I can write inspiring quotes and ideas down on the empty part of pages, I can even draw design ideas, it doesn’t have to be limited to one particular use.
6. What I don’t get done in a day, whether that be through laziness or overloading myself, I need to note when I’ll do it and include it as soon as practical.
By the time I finished writing down all my goals for the year in the front pages of this journal I realised that if I do achieve all of them I’ll have an amazingly productive year. This is particularly so for the goals that are currently scaring the crap out of me and I’m avoiding, I’m keeping myself busy getting on with everything that needs doing.
But I’ll have to focus on these scary ones and make them my priority, then I’ll feel really good about myself. It’s very simple logic really.
Every Great Why Needs a Great How!
I heard on some TV ad “every great why needs a great how” and this Make it Happen journal is part of my great how. So I wrote it on the front page.
This book will be part of my daily life through out the year, it will be who I answer to, it will be my reference and focus point, it will be my structure and my discipline.
The idea of writing down what you intend to achieve for the day in the morning (or night before) and following up in the evening with what you actually did has obviously been around for centuries (thank you Elizabeth) but it feels revolutionary to me. I absolutely love the idea of what might be contained within the book by year’s end with me sticking to this focused and disciplined process. And the results won’t just be in the book, they will be all around me and you’ll see them online here too because it includes new designs, weekly blog posts, publishing necklaces and brooches online in the shop, collaborating with other makers and artists and sharing skills and experiences in bringing creative dreams into reality. I find it exciting and motivating, this prospect of making it all happen because I am setting myself up with the tools I need.
We all hear about finding your “Why”. Great, it makes a huge difference being honest with yourself about what lights you up and why you want to achieve things. But it’s the doing that is really tricky! The doing is the hard bit, finding the how. How to make your living as a maker and an artist, how to create not just financial security but financial freedom, how to live with meaning and purpose – all of that is really hard. So anything that helps with that in a real world, practical, no crap way is wonderful.
Now I feel like I’ve found another really practical, achievable and accessible tool to do this in my every day creative life. How good is that????
Go for it!
So my online friends, be bold, be brave, go make your dreams a reality with really practical, useful tools! Don’t over complicate it, keep things simple so they fit into your life, your way of doing things.
And share what’s working for you.