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the jedi mind trick: honor the calendar
I don’t know anyone who can just ‘wing it’ day after day and still shop, cook, eat, workout, remember appointments, and make time for personal goals in a week – especially if you have kids & their schedules to accommodate, too. Throw social media and endless internet distractions in there and you’ve a 21st century lifestyle that conspires against you getting anything done.
If you want a life of based on intention and want to accomplish some longer term goals, then you’ll have to learn the secret jedi mind trick to getting shit done. You’ll have to develop the habit of using your prefrontal cortex – the long-term planning, logical, and rational part of your brain – to regularly schedule in the tasks that need attention every single week. If you don’t the limbic part of your brain-the part that acts impulsively and according to present-time urges and pleasures-WILL take over and before you realize it you’ve binge watched 3 seasons of Game of Thrones and never left the house all weekend.
Of course it’s not just about writing shit down. Hell, we all write shit down but a much small segement regularly cross it all off the list. What are the doers doing that the list makers are not?
They’re honoring the calendar.
They used their prefrontal cortex to decide ahead of time that thay will honor and do whatever goes on the list or calendar or agenda. Sitting down every week, compiling an intentional schedule, and writing it down is the only way to deliberately acres the pre-frontal cortex and override the limbic propensity to chase proverbial squirrels. Applying some dedication to planning and obeying your calendar WILL result in a more rewarding sense of satisfaction and sense of self-actualization than passively watching Game of Thrones can ever give you. Here’s how to do it:
action step: get a planner
You’ll need to use some kind of planner system (electronic or physical) to keep all of the foundational working parts of your week accounted for. This frees up your brain from having to try to remember everything. The amount of energy your brain saves by not having to try to remember everything is huge. Using a planner is a foundational part of my Big Life program. Use an electronic or paper version depending on what serves you and the way you work best. But either way, don’t waste time waffling in a place of confusion about it. Decide, get your planner set up, and start using it right away.
tip: I use an Erin Condren LifePlanner along with my Apple Calendar that came installed with my iPhone. My Erin Condren planner is flexible enough to accommodate workouts, my eating plan, work and family commitments all in one place. Start plugging in your lifestyle commitments as soon as you get your planner, which will immediately give you a sense of control over your time, priorities, and ability to get things done. Using your planner will immediately move you toward making your big life a reality. Schedule your workouts for the week every Sunday, before anything else. After that, fill in appointments and work & family events and action steps related to long-term goals.
schedule a day and time to schedule
Before I got into the habit of using a planner consistently I would get the Sunday Blues. All day long my mind would turn to the week ahead – wondering what I needed to do, or anxiously inserting thoughts about when I’d get this or that done. It’s wasn’t so much a depressive feeling as a slightly anxious one. The worst! Which is why I now plan ahead every week on Sunday mornings. On my planner every Sunday you will see written in ‘weekly planning’ from 9-10 am. When I get my week planned out in detail on Sunday morning, then my brain and I can relax for the rest of the day knowing that everything I need to remember to do is safely recorded in the planner. I feel organized and peaceful and I can fully enjoy the second half of my weekend no more Sunday Blues.
tip: Choose whatever day and time works for you, but schedule a time schedule that will tend to always be available so that you can be consistent and build your habit until it becomes ingrained.
obey the calendar
You can calendar your week and it won’t amount to anything if you don’t simultaneously develop the skill of obeying the calendar. This means that you decide ahead of time to honor the commitments that you put into your calendar. Again – you can see here that you are tapping into the power of your pre-frontal cortex to make shit happen. When you begin my Big Life Program you’ll begin obeying the calendar with your workouts. Then you’ll add in regularly scheduled activities to optimize healthy eating – meal planning, meal prep, and shopping along with your existing day-to-day commitments. This builds confidence and the habit of calendaring your life. Eventually you’ll be adding in action steps that are part of your larger personal goals.
tip: Don’t sabotage your efforts by overwhelming your calendar. Love yourself enough to think proactively and logically just how much you can and are able to do before you write it your planner. On the flip side; also hold those commitments you’ve decided on ahead of time as sacred. Meet each obligation as if it was an appointment with the CEO of your company; which is true because you’re the CEO of you.
A lot of my clients balk at the calendaring habit. They complain that they feel too restricted; like their time isn’t their own anymore. If you honestly question the efficacy of the calendaring habit & the practice of honoring the calendar then go ahead and try implementing an active and healthy lifestyle along with your work and family commitments AND your long-term personal goals and assess how effective that is. My guess if that if you’re even reading this post, that hasn’t worked for you-so don’t kid yourself. Even if you could white-knuckle it through your week without using your planner, your brain will be so fried from trying to remember everything that you certainly won’t benefit from the peace of mind that using a planner can give you.
Meeting your commitments to yourself will, over time, begin to nurture a new and powerfully deep and trusting relationship with yourself. There is no better way to learn to depend on yourself and foster a sense of self-efficacy than to keep your promises to your higher self. Honoring the calendar will empower you to move beyond the spin cycle of 21st century day life and begin to work toward those long term goals that you’ve always wanted for yourself.