Four Steps for Overcoming Challenges in Habit-Building Using Your Paper Planner as a Tool

Habit building, although rewarding in its own way, can often bring up many challenges along the way. You might think you have something going for you, and just when that thought pops in your mind, POOF, something unpredictable happens and you get thrown off track! But that doesn’t mean you need to stop your habit and throw your hands in the air. I am going to give you four steps of how using your paper planner as a tool can help you keep moving when life throws those darn curve balls at you.

Step #1: Identify the Challenges

Make sure as you are in your habit building process, that you set aside time at the end of the week to review your planner. You will see those patterns, and you can reflect on them, make some alterations, look for inconsistencies, and make a plan to change them. This isn’t a time to belittle yourself because you weren’t consistent with your habit on the way to your goal, but is instead a chance to reflect and redirect the course.

Step #2: Understanding the ‘Why” Behind the Challenge

Step #3 Overcoming Challenges Using Your Planner

Now is the time to really put pen to paper and make a plan. For every one of those internal challenges that you face write down a positive affirmation in your planner. You might have a long list, you might have a short list, but whatever kind of list you have, make sure that there is something positive noted about each internal struggle so that you can make changes to your habit building mindset.

What about those pesky external factors that you have no control over. Create buffer zones in your planner. If you have identified times that are not ideal for you to work on your habit, adust your calendar to make time. If you need to get up a little earlier or stay up a little later to make something happen, and it’s important to you, then add it to your schedule.

Give yourself those visual reminder. Using stickers, washi tape, doodles, arrows, smiley faces and quotes can serve as motivation on days where you just don’t “feel like you.” It will not only remind you of how valuable you are, but also the why behind the habit in the first place, giving you the will to push through the habits and making them happen to spite yourself.

Get an accountability partner. How will your planner help with that? You have to know when you have time to make a call, send a message or meet with a group of your friends to talk out some of your challenges. Sometimes what we think might be a roadblock can be easily fixed by talking out ideas, getting clarity and even perspective from someone else’s point of view.

Rewards are self care!!! Before you even start on a habit building journey you should have a reward in place. What can you gift yourself when you reach your goal, daily, weekly or monthly? What will be enough of a reward to keep you moving in the right direction? It doens’t need to be huge or grand, it just needs to be enough that it feels like a gentle pat on your back that you did a job well done.

Step #4 Always Evaluating and Correcting Course

This is the part than many people overlook, mainly because they get too busy to look back, but also because they might be upset by the results they see. But without this final step you are missing out on a whole lot of opportunity to get better at goal setting and habit building. Evaluation should be done on a weekly and monthly basis so that you can (1) continue to keep yourself accountable to your habits, but also (2) to see where you might need to alter your direction.

At the end of each month, you should sit down with your planner and evaluate your habit-building journey. Not only is there some adjustments you might need to make, but there should be celebrations as well. Celebrate those victories, no matter how small or trivial they may seem. Then take time to adress the challenges and strategize how you might go about fixing them.

What happens if you find a recurring challenge. Perhaps it is time to correct the course you are on. Maybe that partiular habit doesn’t actually align with your goals as you thought it did. If you are seeing a pattern, maybe a brain drop box is in order to see how you can overcome that particular challenge to help you build the habit that will help you get closer to your goals.

While you are going through this process it is also a good idea to write ideas in your planner. Maybe a book or podcast was suggested to you. Do you have a specific place in your planner to keep these ideas? Create a specific page for lists of these things that can help you when you get stuck or you need a little extra motivation.

Your planner is more than just a tool to track dates and your to do list. It is and can be a place for reflecting the patterns, the challenges and the victories that you overcome along your way to reaching your goals. When you actively engage in it, not just as a passive recording tool, but as an active partner in your growth, you can harness power to guide you through all the twist and turns that habit building can take you on, throughout your journey.

Do you want ideas on how to use a habit tracker? Check out this quick video:

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