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Auntie Anna's guide to adulting, part 2: planning is your friend

Feb. 19, 2018
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“Planning” is this genius idea of thinking ahead and pinpointing the essentials in this chaos of adulthood. 

Without your parents or parental guardian, it will be easy to fall into the usual trap of procrastination, demotivation and unproductivity. You’ve got to be prepared mentally for the fact that there will be occasions when you have work to do or errands to run, but you’re just not feeling any of it. If we just go with the flow, yeah, maybe we’ll still get some work done, but this is a dangerous route! Not making a plan means running the risk of failing. And although failure is okay—it’s a part of the path to success!—your aim isn’t to fail. By having a written or thought-out plan, you’re creating discipline, setting goals and staying ahead of your laziest impulses.

Getting what you want requires two steps: 1) A plan, and 2) Hard work. Everybody has heard the phrase, “The key to all successes is hard work.” Guess what? It’s true: although luck can sometimes help push you further, good ole hard work is your primary and persistent fuel.

But to prepare to work effectively, you need a plan. To prepare for the “preparation” itself, we’ve got to think—What do I need to worry about? These will be the things you are going to “plan” for.

Everyone is concerned with different things, but some of the most common concerns are:

  1. How am I going to do my best in university?
  2. If I’m not going straight to university after high school, what am I going to be doing in my gap year(s)?
  3. What do I consider my ultimate success?
  4. How do I actually want to sustain myself?
  5. How will I independently manage my money?
  6. Do I potentially want a family, and if so, and about when do I want to have kids?
  7. What small things do I need to worry about? (Consider: housework, bills, bank troubles, insurance, time management, etc.)

When you’ve thought out what you need to plan for, let’s tackle the different methods of organization and planning!

  1. Setting goals
  2. Brainstorming ideas
  3. Keeping a notebook/journal/bullet journal
  4. Keeping a yearly paper calendar or a calendar app

Making a plan involves 4 vital steps: I like to call them “Intentions”, “Develop”, “Build on”, and “Work toward”.

These are the 4 main stages of a dedicated plan. First, we set our intentions, our goals, and what we want to potentially get out of our plan. Set goals that meet your personal needs, wants and desires. Then, we brainstorm these ideas and develop on them. Draw a spider diagram if you need help visualizing everything—for example:

Connect sub-ideas up, expand on an idea, and note the details of your intention so you can clearly see what to work on as you formulate your plan. This step is “develop”. You can even label these sub-ideas with level of importance or the chronological order you need to follow. Do research and teach yourself, get lessons, or ask other people who know about this area to gather enough details for the next step of building your plan.

The third step, “build on”, is where you gather up all the information and planning you’ve done in the last two steps and start using that info to make a detailed plan. This can be a step-by-step guide, a list of all the actions you will be taking, or a how-to note. Set a date for when your should be achieved, and take note of the “tools” you’ll need to achieve it. You want to make yourself as comfortable and motivated as possible when it comes to working toward this goal. 

Finally, you “work toward”. Track your progress regularly, and keep yourself on target by maintaining a visual or noted record of your progress. This helps you not forget about the goal, plus it lets you focus on how much you have done rather than how much is left to do. 

This system does not have to be complicated or only used for specific goals; it can be used for almost everything—yes, even housework and small errands. However, this process is best for intentions and goals that will take some time and require commitment and effort. Let me show you an example!

In addition to this system, I’ve recently found bullet journaling to be particularly helpful (we've written about it on Adolescent before), as you can adjust its function to your needs! If you’re a visual person and have always preferred things written down or listed, I highly suggest trying out the bullet journal concept.

In this video, Ryder Carroll, the founder of this genius planning system, explains the process of setting up a bullet journal and its potential uses. I’m a very visual person, so not only do I want to plan in my bullet journal, I also treat it as a regular journal and sketch or stick things in it as the mood strikes me—I found that this keeps me more inclined to using it and provides space for a creative outlet! However, you don’t have to follow anybody’s system (unless you’re inspired by it), because the ultimate goal of journaling is to help you find the best planning system for yourself and your needs. 

Here are some bullet journal set-ups that I really like:

I really love the visual aspect of Kicki’s journal because I also like to sketch and fill up some of my pages with creative writing and drawings. Anybody can take inspiration from her typography, layout, color combination, sketches, etc. 

Rachel’s video might not be on the top 5 when you search “bullet journal” on YouTube; nevertheless, I love how she doesn’t reinforce making your journal super aesthetically pleasing. Her journal looks effortless, just like her own style—it doesn’t have a ton of visual elements, but the layout, typography and set-up still are so nice to look at because she has an incredible eye for style. 

Here is another awesomely laid-back approach to bullet journaling from Jusuf. She keeps it simple so that it can be a system she feels able to continuously use, and she also incorporates trackers and other “add-ons” that you can do in a bullet journal after being familiarized with its system. I highly recommend that beginners follow this approach and keep it simple, especially if you’re finding bullet journaling overwhelming at first. After all, the main intention isn’t to create a visual art masterpiece but to keep track of your life and plan it in the most efficient way!

Take inspiration from other bullet journalers and their pages and features, but don’t get overwhelmed by all the frills. Don’t feel pressure to use your journal in a particular way just because somebody else is using it like that! Personalization and flexibility are the whole point of the bullet journal: there are no guidelines, no boundary for what you put in it. If you don’t like the dotted notebooks that everybody else seems to have, get a gridded, lined, or blank notebook. Blank pages are the best, in my opinion, because then you can utilize your bullet journal as a regular journal as well. 

To conclude today’s episode, here’s an inspiration board for you all. Thanks for tuning in, and get planning!