In an ideal world, a goal planner gives you a structured and organized way to manage and achieve your goals.
But despite our best intentions, sometimes life gets in the way and our goals and planner pages fall to the wayside.
It can be hard not to look at your unused planner pages and feel disappointed in yourself. But let’s face it — we’ve all been there, and the truth is it’s hard to always stay laser focused on your goals. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to get back on track with our goals and make the most of our goal planner.
Below are three ways you can get the most out of your goal planner to help you reflect on the past, appreciate the present, and build excitement for the future. And best of all, you’ll learn creative ways to use your empty goal planner pages!
Use empty goal planner pages to reflect
Maybe things got really hectic the past few months and you ended up skipping some pages in your goal planner.
Previously, when I would see those unused pages, I would be wracked with guilt for not staying on top of my goals — not to mention letting all that beautiful paper go to waste!
But now, when I forget to enter things in my planner pages, I’ll just go back to those days or weeks and use the blank pages to do reflection exercises.
Here are some reflection exercises you can do with your unused pages:
- First, refer to your calendar or photos on your phone as a way to jog your memory
- Write down what you did on those days. It doesn’t matter how mundane or dramatic. It could be “saw a pretty sunset” or “had a good discussion with a co-worker.”
- Record any challenges you experienced during this time. How did you respond? What would you do differently in the future? Feel a sense of gratitude and relief as you leave that challenging time behind. Allow yourself to feel a sense of accomplishment as you move forward.
- Create a memory page. You can use a mix of illustrations, lettering, and photos as a way to document the month.
- Brainstorm ideas for a new side project. Have fun and use the blank pages to create and illustrate mindmaps.
By reflecting on your past, you might discover that you accomplished a lot more than you gave yourself credit for. And by taking a walk down memory lane, you might even feel a swell of gratitude as you notice all the things you got to experience.
The blank pages in your goal planner don’t have to serve as a painful reminder of missed opportunity. Rather, they can provide reassurance that your life is pretty good.
Use your goal planner to ask: Did I do my best today?
Now that you know what to do with your unused goal planner pages, let’s go over some ways you can maximize your current weekly or daily pages.
When it comes to optimizing your goal setting, it’s best to apply the S.M.A.R.T method: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. The thinking behind this method is that you are more likely to achieve your goal if you can track your progress, which in turn, helps you see that your goal is tangible. (Get more on that — including a free S.M.A.R.T. goals template — here!)
But instead of just using the S.M.A.R.T. approach with your goals, you can also try asking yourself “did I do my best today?”
This question compels us to examine our day and truthfully acknowledge if we used our time deliberately or whiled the hours away on Instagram. Then you can ask yourself how you can do differently next time. As writer Daniel Dowling says:
“Without asking myself if I’d done my best each day, I’d either have wallowed in self-reproach or failed to reflect on my performance at all. Instead, I’d turned self-criticism into a self-improvement habit.”
You can practice this exercise in your goal planner: In the evening or whenever you have an extra fifteen minutes, jot down a few observations about your day. What did you spend your time on? When did you get distracted? Write down what you would do differently or what you would repeat.
Use your goal planner to celebrate your deadlines
While some would say the best part of goal planning is celebrating your achievements, it’s also quite meaningful to celebrate your deadlines.
When we think of deadlines, we tend to hear them described as “looming deadlines” or “unmet deadlines.” There doesn’t seem to be a positive association with them.
So instead of dreading a deadline or being anxious about missing one, let’s build excitement for it, the same way you would look forward to a birthday or a holiday.
Let’s say you have a grad school application due in December. If you want to make this deadline feel more meaningful, try writing “grad school application due” in your calendar page. Then use a highlighter or washi tape to decorate this day in your goal planner. You can also decorate the midway point to this date and use this as colorful encouragement to pursue your goal.
The simple act of writing down a deadline is powerful enough. But when you put in the extra care into creating this deadline, it will make the goal feel more exciting. The visual reminder will help you see that this is not just a boring chore or task — this is something that holds special meaning for you.
Our favorite goal planner
It’s never too late to start achieving your goals! The Ink+Volt Planner is designed to make you more successful – it has proven layouts that help you set yearly, monthly and weekly goals with a flexible system to move you forward toward achieving them. No matter what your goals are, now is your time and this is your planner.
Here are easy links to our favorite goal planners that you can use right away:
Ink+Volt Undated Planner With Notes: This planner is undated so you can use it right away and without worrying about unused pages! There is a monthly goals page, monthly calendar overview, weekly goals page, journal prompts, and blank pages you can use for note taking or brainstorming.
Ink+Volt 2020 Planner Limited Edition: The planners in this Limited Edition collection are really something special. We have never created such a luxe line of books before. The spine of the book is foil stamped with "2020," and each planner is wrapped in a vegan cover material that feels just like soft, luxurious leather. We selected a pearlized white cardstock for the endsheets, which none of our other planners have. This planner will no doubt become a prized keepsake of yours.
Ink+Volt 2020 Planner Signature Series: These planners come in our signature soft-touch cover in the same three beloved deep tones that we've had from the very beginning. They're classic for a reason. A planner for every season, every outfit, every desk. You really can't go wrong.
Ink+Volt 2020 Planner Brilliant Series: Get a planner as brilliant as your 2020 will be. The bright, bold colors on the planners in this collection truly set them, and you, apart from the crowd.
Ink+Volt 2020 Planner Pacific Series: The ocean is calm and serene, yet it never stops moving. Let the ocean-inspired grays and blues of this collection give you the momentum to make 2020 your best year yet.
By doing these exercises in your goal planner, you’ll be able to reflect on your past experiences and have a better grasp of how you spent your time. You’ll also be able to identify the relationships and experiences that you cherished most and make a point to cultivate them. And you’ll learn which systems work for you so that you can strive to do your best each day.
Life isn’t just about the deadline. It’s about celebrating the journey that helped you get to that day.