Why Tracking Your Progress Will Make You Hate Yourself Less
Self acceptance is nearly impossible. In our twenties it's hard to accept anything: change, graduating from college, moving to a new city, our bodies, our careers.
In the fog where we facebook stalk our "more successful" friends and get down on ourselves for not being "put together", its easy to get caught up in the "I suck" mantra.
No inspirational quote can help with whatever deep-seeded self-doubt we've developed over the years, but I've discovered something that can:
Tracking your progress.
Now this may sound a little bit ridiculous, considering the depth of what we're talking about, but planning and tracking my daily tasks, goals and challenges has changed my life.
I bought a planner after envying countless women on Youtube who were way more put together than me. When I saw these people on the screen with their pastel colored worlds, shiny smiles and perfect make-up...I wanted to be like them.
I didn't want to trade in my spontaneous edge and chaos for a square life filled with methodical primping and planning, but I did want to achieve more of a balance.When you spend so much time in a free-fall that it becomes a routine, you have to change.
So I purchased the Create 365 Happy Planner, which, by name seems a little stupid, but has honestly changed the way I do everything. Planning things out has never been my strong-suit, but today I look down at an organized week full of goals, quotes, stickers and decorations and think, man...life is a lot easier than I have been making it.
When I stare at a blank week in my little book of revelations, things seem a lot more hopeful. It displays the choices I can make to get better, or worse. I am tracking each move I make. I am being more conscious. Planning things out, and encouraging myself to think forward, but not ahead has brought me a sense of calm unlike any other.
For once the chaos in my head melted away. The responsibility lands on my planner now. If I write it down and look at it every day, I can get it done.
The point is, once I started actually using the God damn thing I've started to hate myself less.
I plan every Sunday. It is my hour to sit and really think about the next week and what I want to accomplish. It's a time for reflection on what worked the week before, and what didn't. It's a time for me to look at myself and be like, "hey, are you doing the best you can, or are you fucking up a little bit?"
And that answer comes out in the plan.
Recently I've gotten serious about getting sober, at least for a little while. And each day I go without drinking is a little victory. In the book of revelations I have five tick marks. Once I reach a week I'll put down a little sticker with a smile. Tracking progress. No matter how banal and idiotic it may seem, is helping me get over my demons. It's helping me be a better person.
Each day I eat healthy, I write down a little note like, "Good job not screwing up." and in my brain, that matters. It's a running chronicle of my life choices. It's helping me see light in things that I always avoided before like trying to better my mood or making healthier choices.
Although the shiny people on Youtube have their own sets of problems, mine don't seem as daunting anymore. I can look at my little bible and smile, because my life is on track. And when I hop over the railings and stir up some trouble, I make a little note. "Do better next time."
In my little book, there are no judgments, only observation. For someone slowly recovering from years of self-hatred that's a really good thing. Planners are just one way to hate yourself less, and they don't work for everyone. But I implore you, if you feel like nothing can help, that you're spinning out of control. Just buy one. It costs less than a bottle of booze and can give you more to look forward to than just a hangover.
When I look back in my planner, I don't see a fuck up like I used to, I see progress. And that's all we can hope for as humans, to progress from our primitive selves to fully evolved versions.
Some people decorate them, others just make lists. No matter what your style is, planners can increase productivity. They also make you look at yourself honestly.
I've been tracking my progress in a serious and diligent way for the past two months, and I've never felt more in control.
Although I'm not even close to accepting myself, my world has a bit more pastel in it. I'm closer to liking what I see, what I do and how I feel. My planner, my book of revelations has really helped with that. Because it's not just a stupid little book with decorations in it, it's a living chronicle. It's a letter to myself...with mistakes and victories all laid out in a grid. To me, it's beautiful.
This little book doesn't change who I am, it doesn't detract from the danger and the fun I've always held close, it just organizes it.
No matter how fun flailing in the darkness has been, it's a lot easier to stand tall, steady and sure that tomorrow if all else fails, I have my plan.