Reflections on healing trauma, writing, and books by Tokyo-based memoirist
 
Getting Proactive Without Killing Myself

Getting Proactive Without Killing Myself

At the start of 2019, I wasn’t just going to be proactive, I was going to be aggressive. I made myself a bullet journal. I set some goals.

Back when I was a student, I dedicated one notebook and one folder to each subject, and then later, I did that for every class I had in college (of course I reused them, I didn’t replace them every semester).

In 2019, I figured what worked 25 years ago should still work today, right? I got myself a notebook for each project. Every Monday morning, I made my bullet list, and every week, I checked most of the things off my list.

The problem was that I had so many goals and projects that I didn’t make any real progress in any of them, and despite my hyper-organized methods, I existed in a state of permanent overwhelm. My projects shifted and evolved, so I kept reassigning the notebooks.

In August of 2019, I looked at my pile of notebooks and said, “It’s not me, it’s you.” I was taking a journalism class then. I stuck it out, but the minute that class ended, I was done with dividing my attention.

I put one thing on my list at the beginning of each day—my book—and after I worked on it for a minimum of two hours, everything else was gravy. Within a couple of weeks, the feeling of overwhelm had dissipated.

About a year later, my book was “done.” That’s another story that I won’t get into now. Anyway, for the past few months, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do next.

Guess what? I’m taking another class on freelance writing. Why? Because it’s there. The article I wrote for my friend’s publication came out on Monday. As I mentioned in my last entry, I’m participating in social media more. The combination of the class on freelancing, social media, and my article makes me want to publish more (so, I started researching that). I’m revising my most recent short story, and I decided that now is a good time to start submitting my book again.

Yesterday, I thought to myself, “I need to bring back the bullet journal,” and that scattered feeling of overwhelm came back.

Maybe it isn’t as evil as it sounds. I know what to avoid and when to reel myself in. The above-mentioned article was exactly the win that I needed. It was quick and easy, and the rewards were immediate. My only struggle was the fear that it was going to turn into something painful, but that didn’t happen. I need more stuff like that.

I don’t want this blog to turn into another thing on my list, so I came here to self-soothe and reaffirm that this journal is a place of rest.

One of my favorite YouTubers, Annie Jaffrey, posted a video on how she does her journaling. She uses a series of writing prompts:

1. Grateful for
2. Move the needle – just a reminder of what I can do to keep myself moving forward
3. Want to feel – Set the mood & tone for the day
4. I am – affirmations
5. Send love to – do a nice gesture, call, or send a text of love
6. Yesterday’s wins
7. Today’s message – tell yourself something nice and uplifting

I like these prompts, and I can see how they can immediately set someone up for a good day (or at least a day better than they’d otherwise have).

I’m not going to do the prompts here and now because I do sometimes have mercy on my readers. I might do the prompts later in my paper journal or maybe I’ll do them another day on here.

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