New Year's Resolutions and Using Art Journals to Achieve Them

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A few months ago, I wrote about my methods for art journaling here on BlogHer.  I started journaling summer of 2009, and have remained an avid journaler; during this time, I've been really pleased at how productive I've become, both in my day-to-day life and in therefore making strides toward achieving my long term goals.   And so this week, I thought I'd share some of my tips, particularly for those of you who might not yet journal (or are just starting out), that may help you stay focused on your New Year's resolutions for 2010.

1.  Get a journal.  If you already have a journal, great, use that, I'm not about to mess up your system.  If you don't journal (or already have a special purpose for your current journal), then go get yourself one.  I like moleskines -- they're simple, professional-looking enough that you can take them to work with you if you work in a conservative field, they have an elastic strap to keep them closed, they open flat (which is often rare in a non-spiral-bound journal) and the best part, they have a pocket in the back, where you can store small papers, postage stamps, etc.  They come in lined and unlined versions -- I like the unlined ones, so I'm free to write as big or as small as I want, or not write in a straight line at all, if so inclined.  But regardless, get a journal that feels right to you, no matter what it looks like.  (For a more ecofriendly option, I've recently found Ecosystem journals, which are almost identical to moleskines, but are made from 100% post-consumer recycled content.  I use these almost exclusively now.)

2.  At the beginning of your journal (or wherever you happen to be in your current one), write down your New Year's resolutions or long-term goals.  Personally, I don't like making too many -- three is usually a good working number for me.  You can have more, of course, but don't have so many that they become overwhelming (you'll likely intuitively know what the definition of "so many" is).  And, of course, if you only have one goal, that's fine, too.

3.  Use the rest your journal for daily to-do lists.  This is sort of in line with my friend Jen Lee's method of journaling -- where you don't write just lofty thoughts in your journal, but use it simply to record all your thoughts, happenings, things you want to remember, whatever.  If you're not a journaler, and you're note entirely comfortable journaling just yet, then this is just where you put your daily to-do lists.  And these aren't fancy to-do lists, either -- in addition to listing any appointments you might have during the day, the to-do lists could include "go to supermarket."  "Trash day -- put the trash out."  "Send e-mail to that guy about that thing."  Whatever.  And then enjoy the little pang of accomplishment as you cross items out during the day.

4.  EVERY DAY on your daily to-do list, include at least one item that is in furtherance of at least one of your New Year's resolutions or long-term goals.  It doesn't have to be a huge task.  Say, for example, one of your long-term goals is to own your dream house in 5 years.  Then today's to-do might be:  "Buy a copy of Metropolitan Home Magazine for dream house inspiration."  Or:  "Call bank to see if they have free financial planning services available."  Or:  "Watch 30 minutes of a home decor show on television." Or:  "Put $20 in my downpayment-for-a-house money jar." 

See?

Obviously, sometimes the tasks that you'll list will be actual milestones toward achieving your goal, other times the tasks might be sort of ... well... fluffy, but the point is to keep your long-term goals at the forefront of your daily life.  If you're a journaler, you might add some thoughts around achieving those tasks in your journal.  If you're not a journaler, no worries -- your "to-do" journal will just be a lovely record of what you're doing to attain your goals, as you strike through each task.

Anyway, this is what I've been doing over the past few months, and it certainly makes me feel like I'm staying on task.  

One, somewhat related point:  I love colour in my journals, and even though the contents of my journal are fairly straightforward and analytical and uncreative, I add colour for visual interest.  So I use coloured pens primarily as highlighters (because actual highlighters remind me too much of my corporate former life) -- I make clouds around words, or underscore points I want to remember, using different coloured pens.  Also, at times (though not all the time), when I'm feeling really fancy, I'll add a watercolour to my page before writing -- just to add some zing.  Obviously, none of this is required for your journal/to-do list.  Do what feels right.

For some inspiration in adding art and colour to your journals, check out the following wonderfully creative art journalers:

I'm currently really enjoying the art journaling pages of Gemma Correll -- she's an illustrator who chronicles the details of her day through annotated sketches.  For those of you who are not into writing text, but love a good doodle, this might be a great way for you to approach your goals and journaling.

Betsy CaƱas Garmon, the creative mind behind the blog Wild Thyme, recently started a new journal for 2010 -- and she actually has been kind enough to actually go into detail about her methods and art supplies.  Really great resource for a journaler who is just starting out.

And then Teesha Moore, art journaler extraordinaire, rang in the new year by preparing wildly elaborate pages in her journal, just waiting for further embellishment.  Truly inspirational stuff.

So, how about you?  Do you use your journals to help you focus on your goals?  Any tips or tricks to share?

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Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer in Houston, Texas. Read/See more of her life at www.chookooloonks.com

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