I’m the type of person who’s always loved the idea of using a planner. Crisp, pristine sheets of quality paper waiting to be filled just gets my little writer’s heart racing. But every time I deliberated in Target’s school supply aisle, whispering, “I will actually use this $30 planner this year, damn it”, late November would roll around and it would be forgotten in the crevices of my bookcase.
Well, as one does when the new year arrives, I decided to make 2017 different. I not-so-subtly hinted at my boyfriend that for Christmas, I wanted this Peony Happiness Planner. I really wanted to challenge myself this year, and receiving it as a gift motivated me even more to make his money worthwhile.
What I love about this planner is its daily focus on reflection, mindfulness, and gratitude (and you guys know I love to reflect). At the start of each month, you’re asked to write down your personal and work goals, positive self-talk, things you’re excited about for the month, and the happy things you’ll do for yourself. Then, at the end of the month, you’re asked to reflect. “Describe January in 3 words.” “This month’s struggles.” “Who/what I’m grateful for.” You get the picture.
The small boxes for my responses weren’t big enough for me to fully flesh out my thoughts; so, I was inspired to write a post at the end/beginning of each month, sort of bullet-pointing big themes that I noticed in the previous 30 or so days. Did I stay stagnant? Is there a lesson to be learned from a certain situation or event? Or maybe nothing really eventful happened at all–but was I content?
More than for the blog, these posts are for my sake, to be able to look back at each month–and later, at the end of 2017–and to keep me accountable in living a more mindful, intentional life.
- I’ve used my planner every single day so far! It’s a small but meaningful victory for me, and I can see how it’s challenging and reshaping my mind to be more organized and proactive.
- This isn’t a success limited to only January, but 2016 as a whole saw my faith in God and my love for the church community grow immensely.
- My second round of 30-day treatment for SIBO has been going really well so far. I’ve gained so much more self-control when it comes to resisting foods that I know are harmful to my health. 18 days left!
- Spend time with myself: This isn’t news, but with so much technology inundating our minds every minute of the day, it’s so easy to never be alone. On my commutes, I’ve got podcasts; on my bed, I’m double-tapping ‘grams, connecting with people all over the world. I’ve realized that my mind is often reeling and pulsing because of the sheer amount of information (37 open Chrome tabs–anyone else guilty?) absorbed everyday. This goes for non-digital time spent with friends, my boyfriend, even family. Finding the right balance is another story.
- Learning to say no to myself: This is one of the biggest challenges that I need for my life. I’m a huge people-pleaser, and in a sense, I’m also a me-pleaser, because it all feeds into my desire to feel/look like I’m always on top of my game. Motivation to progress and succeed is good, but it isn’t necessarily healthy all the time–and at the end of the day, it often feels like I’m faking it, even to myself. I’m learning that I need to cut myself some slack. Once I understand what things/habits/people/situations align the most with God’s purpose for me, it’ll help me curb my tendency to put selfishly driven desires & other people’s interests before God’s.
- Stand up for my beliefs: In the context of the political climate we’ve found ourselves in, I’m learning to hone my identity as a human being, as a woman, and as a citizen. Without going too in-depth on this topic, I do want to say that I’ve never been a political person, or even had very opinionated views on world issues. My life was a bubble, with parents who never spoke politics and a conservative household rooted in Christian values. One of my flaws is that I’m too impressionable, and often I feel like a shell of a person who doesn’t have her own thoughts, opinions, or meaningful outlooks on important problems that our world is facing. So I’m challenging myself to, at the very least, be knowledgeable and more engaged in the dialogue of current events.
- Dance with God in prayer: I recently came back from my church’s young adult retreat, and one of my main takeaways was to be content and ever-prayerful no matter what season of life I might be going through. Even if I’m feeling like my everyday routine is mundane and pointless, I was reminded that God must do something extraordinary IN me before doing something extraordinary THROUGH me.
Looking back two years ago, I was a broken mess, so far from where God wanted me to be. Today, I’m still human and broken, but I can see how much God worked in my life: softening my heart, challenging my pride, humbling me, showing me what true grace looks like. God is always working, and he’s revealing little pieces of his plans for me. I just have to let him take over the reins.
A quote from the retreat: “Those who occupy the place of the ordinary with a radical learned contentment will begin to occupy the place of the radical with a holy discontent.”
- Jenn Rogers on YouTube, and she’ll likely be a 2017-and-on fave. She’s a Korean-American beauty/lifestyle vlogger from New York, living in Korea with her husband. I’ve been non-stop listening to her morning chats series; and I particularly loved her “Dance with Fear” challenge, where she overcomes her fear of learning how to dance (which is something I totally resonate with). She’s raw, honest, so down-to-earth and sweet, encouraging and rooted in Christianity. Major girl crush!
- My brother introduced me to Side Hustle School, a podcast that delivers daily, less-than-10-minute stories on how people build and grow their side hustles. Sometimes, it’s easy to let fear or doubt stop you from taking an opportunity or trusting in your talents. Love these short, inspirational stories curated by founder Chris Guillebeau, who gives great practical advice on how you can kickstart your side hustle.
If you got this far, thank you for reading. Best wishes for a productive February!
// ruth kim