A couple weeks ago I wrote about how my new year didn’t feel like it had a great start, and so I’m taking it day by day, keeping my slow burning sense of hope alive day by day with journaling in my customized wellness journal.
This week I’ve been thinking and journaling in my customized journal about small steps. I’d always thought of small steps in the context of achieving goals. Each step is a means to an ends. And that worked for me for a while. But in the last few months, I didn’t find this approach helpful. Even though I was taking steps each day, I was constantly stressed and anxious. I had a constant sense of guilt that I couldn’t pinpoint to anything in particular. I constantly felt that what I was doing wasn’t enough - and eventually that led me to believe I wasn’t enough.
This started to change, though, when a customer requested a customized journal for a friend. She described how she wanted to support her friend, who is a new mother, in setting goals, acknowledging the little steps that can be taken towards the goal, and celebrating those steps in the journal. Her hope was for a journal that could support her friend in believing in herself and believing she can accomplish her goals.
The result was a beautiful, personalized journal, one that truly moved my heart. The personalized prompts and page layout of the journal guide the user in planning their steps in the morning. The journal also includes a space to actually journal how they feel about those steps. Often in planning our day in a planner, we forget about that piece. We say, Here’s what I want or need to do...But hold on, what about how I feel about this plan? Do I feel confident in it? Do I feel overwhelmed? Based on how I feel, do I need to make any adjustments, so I can go into my day feeling motivated about it?
Then on the left-hand page of this customized wellness journal, there are two personalized prompts for journaling and reflecting. There’s a space to celebrate their wins with the prompt: “I took a step forward when…” There’s one more prompt to invite them to reflect on what they are learning about their abilities and power: “I’m learning that I can…” So not only are they taking steps day by day, but they are learning what their true power is. That is an act of self-love and self-care.
Since making this customized journal, I’ve often revisited images of it. I’ve seen how I need this and how so many others could benefit from it. The more I look at the prompts, flow, and design in this journal, the more I am connecting with how the journal can help me move forward - and not only move forward to goals I want to achieve, but also, and more importantly, move forward through my stress, depression, anxiety, loneliness. I can see how this wellness journal’s prompts, design, and flow can help me find and build up my sense of power, through the small steps I take and learn from each day.
I’ve long been a goal-driven person, but I’ve learned that being “goal-driven” isn’t going to serve me right now, as I’m still rebuilding the ground I’m walking on, especially when it feels like the goal, the finish line, is moving. It’s the feeling of constantly chasing that is making me feel breathless - it’s stirring up stress, anxiety, guilt. It’s making me feel stuck even when I’m taking these steps forward.
So instead of treating small steps as a means to an end, I’m using my journaling to embrace small steps as the end, one day at a time. Because each step forward I take is an act of power. And that is enough.