As we’re at the start of a brand new year, I thought that this might be an appropriate time to share with you all some of the journals and planners I use to keep me on-track, both in my dance life and in my personal life. It’s at this time of year that some of you might be contemplating taking up a new journaling habit and might wonder where to start, or which planners are best.
I use several methods of planning and journaling. It’s not necessary to use multiple planners to be successful with this- I just really enjoy it! I would like to share with you the three I’m using at the moment, and I’ll dedicate a post to each. The first thing I want to talk about is my Happiness Planner. I’ve used planners and other products from The Happiness Planner for years now. You will probably have seen me talk about it in other blog posts, and if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter , (both @daretodanceblog) you will have seen me sharing a bit about how I like to use mine. However I’ve never dedicated a full blog post to explaining the features and exactly how I use it, so that’s what I’ll be doing today!
Later I’ll write a review of my new 2019 diary, which is a MiGoals diary, one I haven’t used before. This one I’ll be using more like a regular diary, to carry with me and write important dates, assignments, deadlines, etc. but it has a cool goals focus which I think will be useful. Also, something I know I’ve been promising people for some time (and sorry it’s taken so long to get to!), I will give you a look inside my bullet journal and show you how I keep track of all things dance-related, as well as other features I like to have in there. I was keeping a separate bullet journal for dance and one for everything else, but it was too much work, which is why I bought the MiGoals diary, and I’m experimenting with one combined bullet journal this year. It doesn’t have much in it yet because I’ve been sick for the first week of the new year (been struck down by winter flu for the first time since childhood would you believe) but once it’s got some content I’ll get working on that post.
So, with my big love letter to all my planners over and done with, let’s get into it!
The Happiness Planner that I’m using is the mid-year planner, that runs from the start of July to the end of June. As a student, this is a great option because that sits in accordance with the academic year. However it’s no different from the January-December planner except the dates, so if you like the look of it and don’t want to wait until summer, now is the perfect time to invest in a regular 2019 planner. The Happiness Planner sell several variations on their planners, and loads of other great products. I have also used and enjoyed the 100-day planner, as well as a variety of their notebooks, pens, and inspirational pencils. In this post I’ll just be talking about the planner, so if you want to check out their other products, you can do that by clicking here.
The lovely people at The Happiness Planner did very kindly send me the planner I’m using this year. However they didn’t ask me to review it, this isn’t a sponsored post, and I’m not earning commission or anything like that. I just genuinely think it’s one of the best planners out there, and using it has had a very real positive impact on my life. This is my fourth planner, and my third full mid-year planner (I bought all the others), so it’s really stuck as part of my daily life!
The Happiness Planner is designed around happiness and positivity. The first section of the planner is your Happiness Roadmap. The pages in this section are for you to reflect on the things that bring you joy in your life, the sort of person you want to be, things you want to reduce or eliminate from your life, and where you want your future to take you. I remember when I first completed this exercise, I found it so enlightening. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going in life, but I’d never actually defined it clearly or written it down, let alone evaluated if what I was doing now would get me there. If you’ve never done this, it can be hard work, especially if you’re not sure exactly what you want. But once you’ve done some soul-searching, having a clear and defined vision will change your life, because you’ll know exactly what it is you’re aiming for. I still fill in this section every year and it’s easier now that I’ve done it once, but I find that my answers change a little every year as I mature as a person, and fine-tune my big goals and dreams. This section is important for dancers as I think we often hope for the best in our training, but because a career in dance is competitive and fairly unpredictable, we can be afraid to define what it is we really want. But if you embark on a journey without a destination, you’re likely to get lost, or at least end up taking the long way around! Dreaming is free. Be true to yourself about what you really want.
At the start of the diary section, you’ll score your current life out of 5 for happiness, excitement, energy, calm, health and productivity. This same scoring section is found at the end of each month, so you can review how things are going. Hopefully you should see those numbers moving up- when they go down, you can clearly see that that area of your life needs some attention.
At the start of each month, there’s a month-to-view spread where you can write all of your plans and important dates for the coming month. Then, you’ll write a one-page plan for that month. There might be a couple of different features in the newest planner, but in the one I’m using, the monthly plan features these sections:” This Month’s Positive Self-Talk”; “This Month’s Focus”; “Personal Goals”; “Professional Goals”; “This Month I’m Excited About”; “Happy Things I Will Do”.
This plan for each month has really helped me to hone my focus. I like separating personal and professional goals. I might be aiming to work on my arabesque that month, to learn a solo or to get a certain grade in my dance science essay, but I also then have space to write goals like drink 3 litres of water most days or spend more time in nature. It’s also important to commit to yourself that you’ll practice positive self-talk and take the time to enjoy life. Dancers can be way too self-critical which isn’t a helpful habit. They can also deny themselves having fun. It’s not all about climbing from one goal to the next in pursuit of success. You need to enjoy every day in the mean time.
Then you have a page for each day. Something I like about this planner is it’s not something you cart around with you everywhere and write in all day long (which is just as well because it’s pretty big and fairly heavy). For me, it’s a little daily ritual, something to fill in at the start of each day. I like to do it as part of my morning routine, and it takes probably 5-10 minutes. However just having that focus and intention for the day, something that’s in-line with my goals and how I want my life to be, has made a big difference for me. Then having a few tasks to do that day (not millions), and an idea of when in my day I’ll do them, makes it SO much more likely they actually get done! I used to have a to-do list as long as my arm that was overwhelming, and a schedule that was an ideal version of my timetable, but I didn’t adjust it day to day and got frustrated that I never seemed to touch my mountain of things that had to be done. Taking a moment to choose the few things I’ll do TODAY, and when in my day I’ll do them, makes it easy to follow through. I don’t fuss about my schedule- it’s just a guideline, but it’s a better guideline for that day than the one-size-fits-all type timetable most of us try to keep to.
At the end of the day, you reflect back on your day and fill in “Good things about today”, “gratitude” and “what I hope for tomorrow”. Thinking about the good parts of your day and being grateful does you a world of good- most of us forget about those little moments of happiness as soon as they’re over. This helps me be more appreciative. I sometimes fill in this section at night, sometimes the next morning before the new day’s page.
At the end of each month, you reflect on the month gone by. As well as the scoring system, you reflect on the happiest moments, biggest struggles and things you’ve learned. Then you take that and go into planning the new month. Getting in to the habit of planning, reflecting, and planning again is a really helpful and healthy one. It teaches you a lot about yourself and your life, and it keeps you moving steadily towards your goals and your ideal life. You learn from what went well, what didn’t go well, you adjust accordingly, and you keep moving forwards.
What The Happiness Planner has given me is a great tool to plan for success and follow through with it. It’s something that helps me to appreciate the little things, as well as keeping me moving forwards each day. Setting big goals isn’t that hard- moving towards them on a daily basis is, because they seem so far off. This planner lets you ask- “what can I do today to move me towards a happier life?” and then take action on it.
Looks-wise, it’s really beautiful. There are different colour combinations for the cover and binding which you can choose from. I’ve had a few colour schemes, and the one I have now is to die for! Inside, the pages are quite plain. I like to add colour, doodles, tapes and stickers to mine to brighten it up. That part’s completely down to you. It comes with a few things, most significantly a beautiful pen to write with and clips to keep the pages organised. It’s not the cheapest planner out there, but I do believe it’s a worthwhile investment for the changes you can make to your life with it.
As with most things, this planner will be as useful to you as you allow it to be. You need to actually use it and take some action to follow through on the insights you glean from daily journaling. I feel this planner has made that process clear and easy. However what you get from it is down to you! It’s a great choice for dancers because it can help you to be clear about your goals, and to be focused on them every day, whilst also reminding you to enjoy the process, to make time for happiness and to be kind to yourself.
I hope you enjoyed these insights into my experiences with The Happiness Planner and how I use it. If you’ve got one or are thinking about getting one please do leave a comment! Next I’m going to talk about my MiGoals 2019 Diary and give you a look inside my bullet journal!
I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to the year!