Category Archives: Reach Your Goals


Bullet Journal

I’m doing double duty this month during the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Here at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, I will share ways to increase your creativity. I’ll also be doing the challenge at Facing Cancer with Grace, where I will share posts that focus on caregiving. I hope you’ll visit me at both sites. While you’re here, sign up for my email list. Today’s post is B is for Bullet Journal.

Welcome my first video edition of

Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker. 

You can also read more details in the traditional post, below the video.

 

The Bullet Journal (BuJo for short) is an analog system for the digital age it was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY.

Uses

Most people who love the Bullet Journal system use it as a combination planner and journal. It’s the perfect way to keep track of your life and your goals in one place. I’ve found the Bullet Journal to be indispensable is in planning my content. I have 2 websites with different posting schedules—plus an email list. On top of that, I have my writing schedule. Finding the time to do these things isn’t half as difficult as finding the ideas to keep the content flowing. For me, this is where the Bullet Journal comes in.  I’ll show you exactly what I mean in just a minute. First I want to talk about…

Which Journal to Use

The bullet journal system is used on a dotted (bulletted) journal. You can use any dotted journal that works with your style and needs. When I first decided to try the Bullet Journal System, I bought one of the least expensive journals I could find. It was from Minimalism Art and it was sold on Amazon for a very reasonable price. It was good enough to figure out that I love the system.

The Leuchtrurm 1917

Then I got a hold of a Leuchtturm Bullet Journal.  I can tell you that quality really does make a difference. Let me point out some of the things that the Leuchtturm Bullet Journal has going for it. The Leuchtrurm 1917 has 240 numbered pages. Most off-brand journals have fewer pages, so it’s important to pay attention to page count when you’re making your journal purchase. This Leuchtturm journal is 145×210 mm. The comparable journal is a bit smaller, meaning there’s less room to get creative. Speaking of getting creative, lets look at how to use the Bullet Journal System to plan out your content.

How to use the Bullet Journal for planning your content

The Bullet Journal system has 4 core modules that you’ll use.  Once you put them all together, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it for years.

Future Log

The future log is a big picture overview of your monthly goals and projects. Some people also like to put birthdays here along with other big life events to plan for. Because I have 2 websites to plan for, I’ve given each month a page and divided it into 2 (half for each site). This is where I put the focus of my blogs for the month. For example, I know that April is going to be the month of the A to Z Blogging challenge, so I write that down there.

I’ve also included some big projects/goals.  In January, I did a digital detox. So, I got a lot of writing done, including completing my next book, Facing Cancer as a Parent. I wrote a lot of future posts, as well.

The Monthly Log

The Monthly Log is where you organize your month. You’ll take the things from the future log that corresponds to that month, as well as other goals and events that come up and organize it all right here. Notice the date, as well as the day.  I also have a sort of personal code to keep track of which website I’ll post to that day.

I had been putting some big daily goals here, but soon decided that the better place to deal with daily goals is in the Daily Log. SO let’s turn there…

Daily Log

The Daily log can be a place to write down what you plan to do. I like to do this the night before. It’s a great way to get everything laid out so you don’t lie awake thinking about it. This is something you do as you go. The flexibility of the Bullet Journal system means your planner can reflect your needs, as busy or as relaxed as your day is.

Notes

Some people need space to take a lot of notes. Examples for me are the pages I’ve dedicated to Guest Post Ideas and Videos. I’ve done a little guest posting in the past and I’m completely new to creating videos for my websites. So, I’ve written some ideas here. Another example of notes (and probably a better one since they are true notes rather than tasks) is a note I began on e-book formatting.

What about these symbols in the planner? Let’s look at them.

Key

The key is on the inside of the journal cover. This is another way the Leuchtturm Journal stands out. In my Minimalism Art journal, I had to create my own key. These are symbols that let you know where each item in your journal stands.

. Task

X Completed

>  Migrated (to next Monthly Log),

At the beginning of the 2nd  month, look back at the previous month for any undone tasks. Either strike thought irrelevant tasks with a line or migrate them.

<  Scheduled (to Future Log)

These are the things you want to get done but haven’t yet scheduled.You are saying, “This can wait until October.” Then you schedule it in the future log that’s designated for October.

–Note

O Event or Appointment

*Priority (That’s a tiny asterisk)

Index

The first few pages in your Bullet Journal will be dedicated to the index. Each page will be numbered. In my red, Minimalism Art journal, I needed to number them myself. The Leuchtturm journal came pre-numbered, and also has a beautiful set of lined index pages.

One last note on Style

You can use pen or pencil, one color or as many as you can find. Your style is your style. There are stencils available to use if you’re the kind of person who wants his or her artistic flair to shine. I’ve decided in my next Bullet Journal, I’m going to use 1 or 2 colors. What you choose to do is up to you. That’s the beauty of the bullet journal.

Where to find out more

BulletJournal.com

Before you leave, sign up for my email list to get a periodic email newsletter to encourage your creativity.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I will reminisce about the day I published my first book and what I do after accomplishing a writing goal, as I answer this month’s IWSG Day question:

March 7 question – How do you celebrate after accomplishing a writing goal?

My entire life I dreamed of being a writer. Unfortunately, when it came time to decide what I would do with my life, I foolishly listened to the people who said it was an unrealistic goal.  I shouldn’t expect to make a living as a writer. Instead, I took less fulfilling, minimum wage jobs in restaurants, nursing homes, and then later as a seamstress. I did find fulfillment later, as a wife and a mother.

Fast forward twenty-five years… I had things to say to the world; things that mattered. My husband discovered hard swollen lymph nodes above his left collarbone and our family’s life was turned upside down.  He had cancer. I began to write privately about life with cancer, how it affected our children, what it was like being a caregiver, the things people said that shocked us, and the kindness we experienced from friends and even strangers.

Accomplishing a Writing Goal

Eventually, I wrote my first book, Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Help Someone who has Cancer.  I learned so much during the process of writing and publishing that book. One thing I will never forget is how it felt to see it for sale on Amazon.com. I could hardly believe it—I was an author! What did I do after accomplishing a writing goal so lofty?

accomplishing a writing goal

I lay down and cried. And they weren’t tears of joy. You would think that they would be, but they weren’t. I kept hearing the things that had stopped me from becoming a writer when I was younger. Those words of discouragement kept me from achieving my goals 2 decades earlier—and I let them! Even worse, I still believed them.

I no longer doubt my abilities as a writer. And, thankfully, I don’t cry anymore after accomplishing a writing goal. I don’t really do anything celebratory, either. This is my job. I don’t get paid much (yet), but I take it just as seriously as a banker, a businessman, or a sanitation worker.  So I do what any person does who is working. After accomplishing a writing goal, I move on to the next one.

I follow the principle of setting daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals, so there’s always something more to be excited about and driven to accomplish. It’s a real blessing to be able to do something I love so much. I feel as though the act of writing, is its own celebration.

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

 

 


How to Find Time to Write

It isn’t easy for me to find time to write. Like most people, I have a lot to juggle in my life, appointments for my kids, my husband, and me. There’s also homeschooling 2 daughters and keeping my oldest on track as she begins college as a commuter, church activities, housework, cooking, speaking engagements, and my part-time real estate business.

I could go on, but the fact is, I’m no busier than anyone else. We all have 24 hours a day, and we all find ways to fill those hours. How we fill those hours makes the difference between getting our goals accomplished and getting a higher score on Space Invaders. Did I just reveal how old I am?

Ways to find time to write:

Environment

It’s important to have an environment free of distractions and conducive to writing. I have a small home office which doubles as a storage room (It’s where we throw all of our stuff that doesn’t have a place). I have a desk where I keep all of my notes, research materials, and my laptop. While I drag my laptop all over the house, at the end of each day, it is on the desk, plugged in, waiting for me the next morning.

Schedule

Make it a priority. Aside from spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Scripture reading, your goal comes first. My goal is writing, so it’s a priority. Every night, I look at my planner to see what the next day looks like. It’s best to find time to write as early in the day as possible. That way you know it will get done. I have to write it into my planner with a specific time, just like any other appointment. This makes it a priority. This assures that the business of each day doesn’t push out my writing time.

Goals

If you are familiar with SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, and Time-Bound), and you should be, this suggestion is in regards to the measurable aspect of your writing goal. Set a minimum number of words, pages, or chapters, for each day. Many writers set 500 words as a minimum. That’s easy to achieve, and once you have, you’ll be on a roll, heading toward 1000. When I wrote the first draft of a mystery novel I have on hold, I set the bar at 2500 words each day. Many days I exceeded that. I had the rough draft done in a month. Environment played a big role in being able to achieve that goal since I closed the door to my office and didn’t let anything distract me. This brings us to…

Distractions.

Distractions on the Internet

Social Media is a major distraction to most writers since the very tool most of them use, the computer, is connected to the World Wide Web. There are lots of great apps and tools you can use to lock your internet down for a specific length of time. When the internet became a distraction for my kids, who do their homeschooling online, I purchased Freedom, an app that blocks the internet for as long as you want.

SMART Goals

Distractions from Noise/Sounds

Turn your phone onto Do Not Disturb mode. Either wear earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or earbuds connected to white noise, pink noise, or music without lyrics. These things can all help to create a bubble that helps you to focus without the distractions that are beyond your control caused by the everyday noise around you.

Distractions from Your Loved Ones

Other distractions such as family needs, can be harder to balance due to our strong desire to meet the needs of our loved ones. When I write at a more intense level, such as when I wrote my mystery last fall, I had a short family meeting and explained the reason I needed to have time to write undisturbed.

I laid out their options such as rules to answer their questions.

“We will eat at these times. No, you can’t have a snack within an hour window of those times. You want to ride your bike? If your room is clean, you can. If it isn’t you can’t. You sliced your finger off? Okay. Then you can disturb me.” If my office door is closed, then everyone knows that I’m writing and unless it’s an emergency, I should be undisturbed. It helps to let people know when you will be available. Kids, spouses, and friends are far more patient if they know that you will be available in 30 minutes rather than some unknown time in the future.

Take a Break to find time to write

Take a break each hour to let your family know you are still alive. You can take care of your personal needs and get a glass of water. Take a short walk to stretch your legs and get your body moving. This can actually increase the flow of creativity. You will be more apt to see things from other angles by adding a little time outdoors to your writing routine. It will also help you stay healthier in the long run.

Habit

Writing, like any other activity, can become a habit. Once you get started, it is frustrating to have to stop. So along with all of these suggestions, just make yourself get started. I’ve heard several ideas, ranging from stopping mid-sentence, so that the next day you have a place to start your thoughts, to beginning your writing day by writing whatever comes to your mind for a set period of time. Writing prompts are also popular. As for me, I tend to have several projects to work on in any given day. So, I choose the one that suits me and the rest fall into place.

Ultimately, if you make whatever your goal is a priority, you will make the time to accomplish it.

Sometimes it’s good to take a “digital break.”

That’s what I’m going to be doing in the month of January. I’ve noticed that lately it’s been hard to find time to write, so rather than spending time on email, social media, and other online activities; I will be writing and reconnecting with my goals for 2018. You will still see weekly blog posts on Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, because I have already written them and will post them automatically, using a scheduler. Even though I may not respond to your comments right away, I will read them and appreciate them greatly. Since I won’t be sharing my posts to social media in January I would appreciate it if those of you who use social media would share my posts. Thank you!

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

SMART goals

Every New Year I ask people if they’ve made a resolution, Most people respond with a resounding, “no!” it’s as if resolutions are dirty words rather than opportunities to create positive change. Goals give you a challenge. They help you to grow, not only as a person but toward the fulfillment of your dreams as well. Everyone has goals—or at least, they should have goals. My theory is that people avoid making resolutions because they have grown frustrated with failing to keep them, year after year.  This year, make some resolutions by making SMART goals.

Before we get to what  SMART goals are, let’s build a foundation. I believe that this foundation is the key to success in any goal you are trying to achieve.

The foundation is your passion!

The first thing you need is a passionate reason to go through all the work that’s involved in reaching your goal(s). After all, if the goal was an easy one, you’d be looking at it in the rearview mirror and moving on to the next one. So, a good question to ask yourself is:

“Why do I want to [insert goal here]?”

Then, brainstorm your answers. Keep your list, because it’s going to keep you going when willpower or any other tool in your goal-achieving-tool-kit seems to be weakening.

Now, you can turn your goals into  SMART Goals.

SMART goals are written based on criteria using the pneumonic acronym SMART which stands for the following:

  • S=Specific
  • M=Measurable
  • A=Achievable
  • R=Relevant
  • T=Time

Let’s break this down.

Grab a notebook or start a note on your phone (or another preferred device).

Start with, “specific.” This is where you ask yourself exactly what you want to accomplish. What’s it going to take to get it done? Why is it important? An example is when I wanted to lose weight. I wrote down all the reasons as honestly and completely as possible. It was difficult to be that honest with myself, but it was essential. Your brainstorming from the first step will lead right into this process.

Next, look at how “measurable” your goal is. How will you know that you’ve reached this goal? It’s likely that the goal is big enough to involve several smaller goals. Break it down.

Find a way to measure your progress that is relevant to you. Some people like graphs that they can pin in a prominent place, such as above their desk or on their bathroom mirror. There are smartphone apps for recording goal progress.

You can also use some effective low-tech ways to encourage you to keep going. I know a woman who has a weight loss goal. Sho got a large vase and filled it with 5o small stones, each representing a pound she needed to lose. Each week, she weighed herself and removed a stone for each pound she had shed. When the vase is empty, she’ll fill it with flowers.

Ask yourself, if your goal is “achievable.” Is your goal something that you can reasonably do? For example, if you want to become a brain surgeon but you have a tremor in your hand, you would be better off focusing your energies elsewhere. If you want to become a brain surgeon, and you are already in medical school, you are on your way. You have a lot of work ahead of you, but it is possible!

Is your goal “relevant? How does your goal fit into your bigger life plan? Is now the best time to be working on it? As a blogger and author, I started out trying to learn too many things at once.

I wanted to learn:

Image courtesy of Photokanok at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
  • how to create webinars,
  • web design, and
  • how to market my books.
  • Mastering SEO (search engine optimization) to get my blog seen by a wider audience

I had to write:

  • my books
  • content for my blogs
  • posts for blogs where I’m a guest writer

As you can see, I had a lot on my plate, and opportunities abounded for me to get an education on all of the above–and more!

The problem was that I was quickly becoming a “Jack of all trades, but master of none.” I’m sure that your goal isn’t being “adequate” at something. You want to be great! So, pick the most important thing (or 2) and master it (or them). Then you can move on to the next piece of the puzzle.

Finally, SMART Goals have a set “time” or deadline. 

Come up with an ultimate deadline that’s realistic. Then decide on the deadlines for any of the smaller steps that you came up with while crafting your SMART Goal. These deadlines should be realistic but they should also keep pushing you. If there’s no feeling of urgency, it is easy to become complacent.

Now that you have your SMART Goals crafted, write a “Vision.” 

This is how you picture your life once you’ve met your goal. What impact will it have on you? If you’re a more visual person, get a picture (or several), and place them where you can see them as reminders of why you are doing this. Are you trying to save up enough money to buy a boat or take a trip? Get a picture of the ad or flier. Do you want to lose weight? Get an outfit or a pair of jeans that you want to fit into. Hang it right there in your bedroom or bathroom as a reminder. These can be powerful reminders of why you are working so hard.

Finally, if you fall off the horse, get right back on.

People slip up and make mistakes. Allowing yourself to get into a cycle of shame for it will only sabotage your cause. Think of it as a boxing match. You against anything that is standing in the way of your goal. If you take a sharp jab to the jaw, shake it off and slug back—hard.

Best wishes on reaching your goals!

 

What are YOUR thoughts?

I’d love to hear in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

About Heather Erickson

I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. One of my SMART goals is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about living with cancer at, Facing Cancer with Grace.

My Family
The Erickson Family, Photo by Everbranch Photography

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