Calm the Daily Chaos: 5 Tips to Get Closer to Your Goals

How a Simple Notebook Can Change Your Life

Calm the Daily Chaos: 5 Tips to Get Closer to Your Goals

How a Simple Notebook Can Change Your Life

There’s a song on the radio that’s popular right now. I can’t actually remember the name of the song or who sings it, but it came on the car radio recently and I heard a verse that struck me… 

Losing friends and chasing sleep.

Like many moms, my life often feels like mayhem. With three very active kids, a husband who commutes out of town for work, dinner always needing to be made and laundry always needing to be folded, normal seems to be chaos. Between work, motherhood, and housework, a mom's days are in a constant state of triage. Anything remotely resembling taking care of ourselves and achieving our goals gets pushed to the bottom of the list. Except there isn’t actually a list, because we usually don't take the time to write one.

All of this has to stop and lately I’ve found that it starts with a scribble in a notebook. Here’s why…

I've carried a work notebook for over a decade and have what works for me down to a science. Every new notebook gets divided into two parts – the first 1/3rd of the notebook is for my always growing to-do list and the second 2/3rds are for meeting notes. Every day I scribble down new items on my to do list. Then when I complete a task on the list, I cross it off. It’s a semi-organized system that works for me. I’d be lost at work without my work notebook.

I couldn't shake the song lyrics from my mind and I was feeling nostalgic for this time of year that comes with the excitement of starting something new - like a backpack full of brand new and never used school supplies. It was then that I realized I might be able to do something to calm the chaos of life in the same way I approach my work.

Here’s how I am doing it and how you can do it too: Write down your goals.

On the very first page of my new Hilroy notebook, I’ve written my goals. They are fairly simple and fairly huge all at the same time:

  • Be the kind of mom I want my children to remember
  • Get healthier
  • Get organized
  • Write
  • Look forward
  • Phone a friend (because the phone call often leads to getting together for a coffee)

There's a lot of research about the power of writing your goals on paper and putting them where you see them every single day. Putting them in a notebook is helpful because you can toss it into your purse and take it wherever you go. 

Every day I look at my goals on the first page of that notebook, then I turn to the next blank page. There, I write at least one thing I’ve done to work towards at least one of my goals. Some days it’s a few things, other days it’s one little scribble about how I just barely drank enough water or finally started using a calendar to keep our family activities organized in one place.

But no matter what I write down every day, for me, both the immediate and long term benefits have been apparent. Here's how you can start doing it too:

1. Be clear about what your goals are

These aren’t things you may hope will happen, they are things you need to make happen because they have a direct correlation to your happiness. Writing them down will make you truly think about and understand exactly what you want to accomplish.

2. Motivate yourself to take action

Make your goals broad too and not so specific to see if it helps. My goals are fairly broad, but I’ve done that on purpose. I don’t want to lose 15lbs, that’s a resolution I’ve made many times over and still haven’t accomplished – I just want to be healthier and I am going to celebrate every single accomplishment that gets me one step closer.

3. Remind Yourself What’s Important

I know there are nights where you go through what you did that day and still can’t remember one single thing you did to help accomplish your goals (I know because it happens to me often). On those days, write down one thing you will do tomorrow to help get you back on track.

Those are often the pages I let my kids doodle on me, my kids’ doodles are motivation.

4. Celebrate your successes

Always record your successes and when you have accomplished a goal. It will come in handy later.

In my life, setting a meal plan for a week is a successful step in getting organized, registering for a continuing studies course at my university is a successful step towards looking forward to what comes next, and hitting publish on a blog post about a recent family vacation means I took some time in a day to write.

On the days when you haven’t done any of these things, flip through the pages to see the many other things you’ve done to help achieve your goals and stay positive, motivated, and focused on the successes you've had – no matter how small.

5. Carry your notebook around with you...

Carry your notebook everywhere and do your best to write in it every single day. This is not a big giant leap towards the impossible, it's a small thing, but an impactful one and it's slowly changing my scribble at a time.