Reviewing A Year

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This is the time of year I reread my journals. I keep two of them.

One is larger, kept on my bedside table, for the purpose of collecting my thoughts at the end of the day. The other is small enough to fit in my back pocket, accessible at any time, to capture whatever thought may come at me unexpectedly any place I happen to be.

I do my best to avoid doing this while in traffic. 

One reason I do this is because of another journal entry, written by Søren Kierkegaard. He writes:

In Danish –

at Livet maa forstaaes baglaends. Men derover glemmer man den anden Saetning, at det maa leves forlaends.

In English –

… life must be understood backwards. But with this, one forgets the second proposition, that it must be lived forwards

When I review what I’ve written, I wish to know:

  • What events or themes cropped up in my life that might need to be explored further?
  • What have I’ve been most concerned with?
  • And, how am I tracking toward those goals that are difficult to measure?

Kierkegaard does go on to write that because of this issue of reviewing the past while living in the present, “life, therefore, cannot be fully understood” so perhaps my time is wasted asking these questions.

I began my first journal over seventeen years ago. Since then, I have always enjoyed taking the time to look back.

I read and consider what I might need to change about who I am. I also read and am thankful for the year of life, whether good or bad, I have been given. 

 

How To Integrate Your Dream Into Your Busy Life

When I first started writing I had no children. I could get up as early as I liked and stay up as late as possible, as long as my full time job did not suffer. At one point, I got up at five thirty every Saturday morning and wrote for four hours. It was a magical time.

Fast forward to today, I am lucky if I get fifteen minutes each morning. So how do you balance that change? Going from four hours a day to fifteen minutes?

I like making checklists. I didn’t realize I did until I got further into my sales career. Before I leave for the day I write down what I need to accomplish the next day. This keeps me focused and on task no matter what happens during my morning commute.

How does this relate to writing? Because knowing what I am going to do with the brief block of time I have matters immensely. As a busy writer, I cannot approach time casually. I must be intentional about how I use it whether I am writing, doing the dishes, or relaxing. Having a plan on how I am going to use my time goes a long way to spending it well.

I wrote a checklist before I started my writing block this weekend. Then I listened to music on the way to my writing destination to get me in the writing mood and journaled as soon as I arrived. Usually, these are my first two actions before I have a writing session. They help me focus on what I need to do. Then I can attack the checklist. If you don’t like checklists, do any action that helps you track progress. For me, crossing items off a list is extremely satisfying.

When I create my checklist I start with writing first. I may need to send an email or tweak a portion of my website or do some research but I write first. I can do admin tasks on my lunch break during the week if I run out of time. On my checklist I put two hundred and fifty words or whatever I need to remain on schedule for my current project.

The reason I put a limit on my words is because my time is limited and I like a target to aim at. It also helps me not burn out. I cannot possibly sit down and write five thousand words and still be present with my wife, kids, friends, or work.

So I create a checklist, get my mind in the writing mood, and then do my writing first. I also limit the word count to feel accomplished and limit burn out. These three things help me be prepared, build momentum, and execute.

I would like to leave your with this caveat, however. If you chase a dream, you must be flexible by keeping your expectations in check. Life can change in a moment and we must be ready to leap forward and take advantage of a sudden gap in time, or throttle back as it requires.