In December of 2019, I received a package from my friend Kim Harbinson in celebration of a milestone for her consulting business. Tucked inside was a journal filled with blank pages. The cover featured the words “Creative Space” and a beautiful photo she captured on Minnesota’s North Shore.
I know it sounds cliche, but when I opened it to find clean blank pages… Inspiration struck! I knew that this was my opportunity to explore ideas without boundaries or limits.
I decided that this would be a place for me to express myself creatively and without self-judgement or curation. I would use these 80 pages to explore this Creative Space.
Little did I know, that this would be the first journal that I would actually fill up cover-to-cover. It served as a grounding activity during the unbelievable year that 2020 became.
As I’ve never successfully filled a journal before, I trusted my instinct and let my whims guide me through the process. This is what I included over a 12 month span…
Reflecting on the 2010s.
At the beginning of this journey, we were entering a new decade, which was honestly nerve-wracking. I kicked off the book with an activity inspired by Marie Forleo. I made a list of some of the more important aspects of my life… “community”, “family”, “food”, and “travel.” Then I walked through every year of the 2010s recalling memories from these categories. It was a truly enjoyable stroll down memory lane.
Long Term Goal-Setting.
Like anyone on the brink of a quarter-life crisis, I decided to make a plan for the rest of my life… Ha! Looking back on it just one year later, so many pieces of this have changed, not only from COVID-19, but general shifts in interest. This is was a challenge but now serves as a great record of my big-picture goals and how my mindset shifts over time.
Refreshed Bucket List.
I was looking through a box of old things with my girlfriend Melissa in the Fall of 2019 and found an old bucket list from my senior year of high school that made me laugh so hard. It was 50 items long and included… “walking around with $1 million in cash in my pocket.” Needless to say, it was time for a refresh for a fresh decade.
One of my new year’s resolutions was to be more thoughtful about my media consumption, reflecting along the way. I still can’t believe it, but I actually stuck with this goal throughout this roller coaster of the year. This exercise made up the bulk of my journal use in 2020. Being more thoughtful about the way I consume books, movies, video games has helped me unlock so many details, lessons, and tidbits that I usually would glance over. I’ll write another post on the power of this in the future.
Various Business Plans and Concepts.
I’m still a small business owner, but I’m always open to the potential ventures that manifest themselves in my brain. I used the “One Page Business Plan” outline from Chris Guillebeau’s The $100 Startup to outline these ideas.
Miscellaneous Creative Reflection.
Whenever I felt like I stuck in my tracks or particularly inspired, this journal was my go-to. In hopes of reading more books, I listed the options that struck my fancy. When I was overwhelmed, I made a travel calendar (one specifically that was truly destroyed by the current pandemic). During a new moon, I even listed intentions for the next moon cycle as recommended by The Pattern app.
Inspiration can come from unexpected sources. The gift of an empty journal taught me that there is so much to gain from making time and space for reflection and creativity.
When you are considering New Year’s Resolutions over the next few months, consider keeping a journal (with whatever contents speak to you). I’ll surely be getting a fresh journal for 2021.