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How Passion Planner helped me get my shit together

I fucking love planners.

I know it’s nerdy, but there, I said it. Ever since elementary school, I’ve used planners to remember when homework is due, plan ahead for tests (or rather, cram for a few hours the night before), and work on projects (slap some construction paper on a poster board and bring it in the next day). I’m a hopeless procrastinator, but knowing how much time I have until I absolutely have to get things done still helps.

I used planners for school and events all the way until my senior year of college. That year, I decided not to think about what direction I was going to take next because my anxiety about it was crippling. I allowed myself a few months to travel with family, relax, start watching The Walking Dead, and not worry too much.

But by the end of 2015 (six months after I graduated) I still had no solid plans for my future. I knew generally I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t know how to get a job. I also wanted to finally write my ebook about long distance relationships, but the idea of creating a whole work of my own was too overwhelming (and I’m still working on it to this day).

Enter: Passion Planner.

I heard about the Passion Planner from a college friend who shared a video about Angelia Trinidad, a Filipina millennial (like me and the friend who shared it) who started her own business making planners.

The concept seemed cool: you write out a wish list of things you want to accomplish in life, then you break those goals down into action items. After my cousin Sam got a Passion Planner for herself and showed me how much use she got out of it, I had to get one for myself!

Sorry the photos look so tiny with this blog layout, but just click on them to see the full details!

Truly, I don’t know if I would be where I am today if it weren’t for Passion Planner.

I’d like to think I’m motivated and would have found a way to achieve my goals, but having this method of tangibly creating steps to get to my vision was life-changing for me.

The Passion Planner has just enough structure to help me feel organized, but also leaves plenty of space for creativity. After almost a year of using PP, my mom and stepmom introduced me to bullet journaling (or bujo, as many planner nerds call it. I personally hate that nickname but it’s easier to write so I’ll use it, but I’m gonna cringe while typing).

With bullet journaling, basically you get to build your own planner out of a notebook. It can be as intricate and fancy as you want — many people online buy expensive, high-quality, pretty notebooks for their bujos (I’m trying not to throw up with this shortened name).

You set one page in the beginning as an index or table of contents, so you know where all the other lists and planner pages are. You can change formats of the planner, with monthly/weekly/daily pages, depending on how you want to organize your time and tasks. You can create lists on other pages with tasks to finish further in the future (bujo fans call it the “future log”). It’s really whatever you want to make it!

I got super excited about it, after obsessively looking at photos of other people’s bujos on Instagram and Pinterest — you’d be amazed how many people are even more obsessed with planners than I am! I ordered a beautiful sea blue Moleskine notebook and my moms got me washi tape (an essential for any planner nerd), sticker tabs, and a variety of Post-Its.

I started my bujo with the best intentions, but gave up after a few weeks — as most people do after jumping into a new hobby too quickly. It took too much effort to draw out my planner every week, and write out all the interesting things that happened to me every day. That sounds lazy, but it was much too meticulous of a system for me and required more work than it was worth.

Experimenting with a new kind of planner was fun, but within a couple weeks I went back to what really worked for me: the Passion Planner. I bought a new one for 2017 and used it almost the entire year (a bit less on weeks when I went on vacation).

Here’s how the Passion Planner system works:

In the first few pages, you’ll see detailed instructions on how to use your magical planner.

At the beginning is your Passion Roadmap, a step by step guide to map out your goals.

First, you set a timer for five minutes and imagine the paper is magical: whatever you write on it will come true within the set timeframe. You ask yourself: “If I could be anything, do anything, or have anything, what would it be?”

The roadmap is divided into three months, one year, three years, and lifetime. Under each section, you write whatever you want in your life to come true — no matter how unrealistic or seemingly out of reach. Some of my lifetime wishes include becoming a relationship guru blogger; becoming a published author; earning a PhD; visiting Egypt, Central America, South America, and Australia); getting married, having kids, and eventually having grandkids.

Next, you circle one goal from each section that would have the most positive impact on your life. You take one goal at a time, then write down every step you need to take to achieve that goal, then assign due dates for each task.

You take these tasks and put them in your monthly calendar/plan, then every week you follow through with your steps to get to your larger goal. On the daily sections, you schedule out all the activities and chunks of your day. It sounds a little overwhelming at first, but you’ll get used to it quickly after a few weeks!

At the end of each month, you have a space to reflect on how you’ve grown since the last month, who you’re grateful for, what you’ve learned, what you can do to improve next month.

It’s crazy how simple this process is: you basically just write down a goal then figure out the steps to get there, then you DO IT. That’s it! How have we not already figured out to do this before??

Looking through my 2016 planner, I’ve made some of my Passion Roadmap dreams come true: have a job in writing/social media that’s fun, be financially independent, manage my anxiety better, do yoga regularly, and have good friends I see often. It’s kind of embarrassing how low my bar was set at the time, but I pretty much just wanted to get out of a stagnant phase and be happy.

From my January 2017 Passion Roadmap, I achieved some goals too: went on my first solo trip, built my savings account to a comfortable amount, traveled to more new places, finished one year at my news job (I’m at 15+ months!), have artistic outlets to express myself.

While I’m happy with where I am now, and proud of how far I’ve come, there are still a lot of ways I’d like to improve my life.

In my 2018 Passion Roadmap, my main goals by March 2018 are to publish five posts on my blog, eat healthy, work out regularly, and have my ebook ready to sell.

By 2020, I’d like to be an avid reader (like I was as a kid, but lost over the years), have developed skills (in writing, photography, maybe coding?), have less anxiety, work at a job with good pay that I’m passionate about. I’d also like to be married and be a vegan by that point, but we’ll see what happens. The only thing I know for sure is that I’ll be using the methods I’ve learned from my Passion Planner!

If you plan on buying one too, please use my email address under the “refer three, get one free” program during checkout so I can get one free next time too (ya girl’s trying to save money): chloe.babauta@gmail.com.

Other fun ways I use my Passion Planner:

  • On the back inside cover of the planner, there’s a pouch where you can store whatever you want. Throughout the year, I left movie ticket stubs and other little mementos I wanted to hold onto. At the end of the year, I put the mementos into the blank pages in the back of the planner like a scrapbook, and taped movie ticket stubs/other memories in the weekly planner pages. When I want to look back on my year someday, I’ll have a scrapbook filled with my daily life memories!
  • Doodles
  • Map out my goals for the month

Other posts you might enjoy:

2018 Goals

Rituals of Self-Care in My Post-Grad Life