13 January 2017
Reaching Your Goals
at 10:39 PM
I love setting goals in the New Year. There's a lot of talk in Charlotte Mason circles about the importance of Mother Culture, and this is how I get it done. Last year I blogged about setting reachable goals, and I set up this chart, which hung on my fridge all year, and when I'd do something towards my various goals, I'd mark it off. Little ticks of incremental progress. My progress toward my goals is measured in baby steps. Little things, simple things, things that I can do in between all the mothering that happens in my day. There's a lot of ticks on the chart; I think this system really helps me to be able to accomplish things that keep me growing, rather than getting stagnant while I focus on my children, and that's important.
Each category tracks my progress in some area where I want to see myself grow. I want to speak better Japanese; more podcast lessons, more flashcards. It's very hard to measure how well I speak or understand, but it's very easy to see how many lessons I've done or how many flashcards I created. And when I do the lessons or flip the flashcards, I'm making baby steps toward my goal. Life changes as we go along, and partway through the year, I found that I could handle more material from real Japanese people - there's Twitter, where I occasionally post in Japanese, and sometimes read in Japanese. In small, bite-size chunks. And there's that easy news place. And the kids' books I've bought are gradually getting read. And because there was more of that kind of thing, interacting with real language, there was less of the lessons; it's a good trade and I'm happy with my progress. My data helps me to see that progress, which is incredibly valuable. I deliberately make my goals ambitious, so it doesn't bother me at all that I didn't make it to finishing all of them: clear progress is what I am most interested. And I actually did reach a couple of goals: I listened to quite a few herbal podcasts, and the Japanese flashcards goal that I'd set, I really only missed by about 30 flashcards, which was way more than I really thought I'd be able to do.
I didn't read all the books I thought I was going to read. But I did read books, and listened to others. I love a paper book the best, but Librivox is my friend in this season of my life, when time spent sitting still, just me and a book, is so very scarce. It's not the same, but it feeds my soul nearly as well. And my soul likes "eating" books!
This will be the third year that I do this style of goals, with checklist and so forth. Only, I have lots of goals; tons of things I want to accomplish, lots of things I'd like to see progress on:
I want my 4th degree black belt.
I want to play the banjo.
I want to dust off my piano and use it more.
I want to write my book, instead of just threatening to write it.
I want to read more books.
I want to learn more Japanese.
Welsh, too. I want some more of that.
Because I'm on the Review Crew, I have blogging goals this year that I've committed to.
I have aspirations to improve my watercolor painting and my drawing.
And to put stuff in my nature journal.
And learn more about botany and herbs.
And to write things in my commonplace book.
And do more of that Bible Geography class.
And to read more books - especially fiction.
And I want to find some more of my ancestors and their stories.
And I'm kind of outgrowing the one page on the fridge method. Because all this stuff has to fit in the cracks of my life, in and around laundry and dishes and cooking and homeschooling and teaching Sunday School and everything else... so most of it is going to happen in 5 to 15 minute chunks: this season of my life is not a big chunks of time for my own study season. This season is a season of teaching and of snuggling and doing projects and sharing my time and myself with my children -- and it's going fast: I don't have any babies any more; we're done with that season. There won't be a do-over on this season with my kids; I need to do it now, while it's here. My books and projects are, for the most part, patient. But I can have little pieces of time, if I can harvest them.
However, to keep all those irons in the fire, or at least close enough that they don't cool off completely, I need something more than my fridge goal sheet.
Hurray for Bullet Journals.
I built me one, around a month ago. In a leftover composition notebook, covered with scrapbook paper and washi tape. And made tough enough to toss in my purse and drag from pillar to post by covering the whole works with contact paper. Comes to a grand total of something like $2, $6, if you count the pens that I bought. And it's pretty, which makes me want to use it. Tried it out before the New Year to decide if I wanted to go with that system.
I love it.
I have resisted building a Bullet Journal for a long time, now, because you see these fancy pants journals on Pinterest, and ain't nobody got time for that! They're beautiful. But my goal keeper cannot be an art journal too, or the goals part won't happen. I needed something, and it turns out that the basic Bullet Journal concept is really simple and elegant.
Being unable to follow instructions, I didn't start with what the tutorials say to start with, I started with the thing that I am feeling pushed to do by the Spirit, but haven't been getting anywhere on: my book. And I made a tracker for that.
Because you put the big golf balls in first.
My next priority was to get set up to track my study projects. Some of them I do frequently, some are only a couple of times a month. I like having them all on a single chart, because then I can see which ones are getting attention regularly, and which ones are getting neglected.
Right about this time, I realized that the boxes on the video are squares because that's how the paper is marked, but I don't have to do it that way. So they've been skinny since then, which I like better. And I decided that I only like my grids on one page, not stretching across two. I've made a collection of charts to track various things since then. I stink at thinking up chores that need to be done around the house. I like a clean place, but I'm not at all talented at making it happen. Now, the thinking part is done, and the kids and I just do the stuff on the chart. It's amazing. I have a chart of daily and near-daily stuff, and one for monthly work too, right next to each other, so I see them both when I'm passing out family work.
This is the one page where I really let myself get arty about it, partly because the idea is so fun (Thank you, Pinterest!) I have two books going right now, and I'm really looking forward to finishing one of them so that I can color in the next book... such a geeky thing to get excited over. I drew way too many books, but if I read short works in Japanese they're totally going on here, too. Even picture books.
In this case, I can tell that I needed to tweak the way that I set up my chart. I want to do the Benjamin Franklin writing method, where he copied, sumarized, and re-wrote excellent writing. This one is really tough to break up into bite-size pieces, and it's not going as fast as I'd hoped at first, so I re-did the chart when the first one ran out of room. (Do you like my Japanese dates? It's the only thing that ever has helped me with learning to function in their dates at all: using them for my planner is great for that.)
And the Bullet Journal method for daily stuff is awesome, too. This one is from December 17-19. I actually got all my Christmas cards sent this year, because it just kept being on the list, and I kept chipping away at it -- and it was awesome!
I've been using the Bullet Journal for about a month. It took about a week for me to get it fully set up, and since then, it's just been amazing. It's a stripped down, only the basics kind of method, and it's working. I'm actually progressing at least a little bit on almost all my projects.
That's pretty amazing, actually. I've never done that before.
Gotta love finding the right tool for the job.
See what other homeschool mamas are doing with their goals: