One of the gifts I discovered this annum is the discipline of tracking. For some reason, it did not occur to me until my 40th year to actively engage in trying to determine the baselines of my physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational and creative self.
Thanks to Jenn Giles Kemper and her Sacred Ordinary Days planner, which I started using at the beginning of the year, and a concurrent discovery of the bullet journal, I began to become aware of myself in ways I just hadn't before and ways that hadn't occurred to me before. I didn't realize how much this discipline of self-evaluation was affecting me until mid-April when I realized that this was going to be the first year of my life when the Areas-for-Growth (i.e. Resolutions) that I discerned in January were going to have a significant movement within them at the end of the year. That's a really big deal for me!
Since then, I have switched to a Happy Planner (because the discbound system allows so much flexibility) and have created some other ways to track my state of being in addition to the Sacred Ordinary Days rubric that forms the backbone of my engagement with these different areas of my life. I call this paper my Self-Awareness Circles and I've just been using it for a couple of weeks. Each evening (or sometimes the morning after) I reflect on the day by asking myself some questions, assign a number (meaningful to me only) to some categories I've determined are important and indicative of my state of being in several areas (spirit, mind, body, relationships, home, and creativity) and color in the wheel accordingly. Right now, I evaluate 8 categories. But I may add or subtract at some point.
As I have been doing this, I have been making some discoveries, obvious though they may be. First, my well-being is not compartmentalized. Though it is possible that I may excel or falter in one area, temporarily, real change depends on growth, however incremental, across all areas. Second, incremental change really does make a big difference. I see this most in my energy levels. The difference between a 4 and a 5 on the Energy ranking can make a several-point change in my ability/ willingness to Speak Life. This reminds me of the old wooden barrel illustration – a barrel can only hold as much water as the shortest stave allows. It follows that making that stave a bit taller allows for cubic growth. In other words, sometimes the greatest gift I can give myself and my family is an extra hour or two of sleep.
I am continuing to tweak this form; in its current iteration I have changed the placement of the questions. Now, I don't have to answer them specifically. Instead, the questions are more of a guideline for reflection.
If this seems like a tool that would be helpful for you, my Dropbox link is here. For the Happy Planner, I print this at 100% and trim very close to the border and very close to the title and leave 1/4 inch on the side that is to be punched. You may want to print at 98% instead.
If you come up with new questions to ask, I'd love to read how it works for you. I hope it is helpful.
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
Golly, this was a hard week. I messed up over and over again. I could detail all the myriad ways that I could have done better, but I have decided that it is probably best at this point to focus on the positive and reframe my thinking for the week ahead. I want to spend my mental energy on changing things today, and in the future.
This is a big deal for me. Historically, I spend a lot of time beating myself up. I regret a million things and remember all my failings and then some, but I've come to understand that this sort of cyclical thinking is keeping me stuck. It's not only completely futile (clearly, I can't go back and change a darn thing), it's also pointedly self-centered (I'm thinking about me, me, me ALL THE TIME). It's also a desperate attempt to control the future. In essence, when I insist upon dwelling in the past (and not only the past, but the tainted past), I decide to take a little, or a lot, of God's work away from Him and, instead, hold tightly to it.
I've realized that I have an opportunity to choose Faithfulness. I have an opportunity to practice Trust in a way I haven't before. I have an opportunity.
So this week, I proclaim that God is not only able to, but that God WILL, redeem the past AND I confess my utter need and reliance on God for future peace. Most of all, I give God the Present. I give God the Now. I give God this moment. Here.
That peace I want, the relationships I desire, the healing I crave - all of that can come to be only if I make the decision to "stick with God. I say it over and over. He's all I've got left.
How great is thy Faithfulness, Lord, unto me.