Undated planners have become a big thing in the last couple of years. And I jumped on board. I use the Panda Planner. I never really use the calendar part of it. That part of my life is much easier to manage electronically (Outlook for my work life, Google for my personal life, and a smart phone app that combines them together for me on my phone). But I love my planner because it helps me to focus my attention on the things that matter.
My planner has a daily To Do List as well as an area to prioritize those tasks, and also a place to identify the day’s focus and a place to track my exercise. But the part of my planner that has been most helpful during this time of social distance is two daily small lists. Every day my planner asks me to list three things that I am grateful for and three things that I am looking forward to. When I look back to the “before times,” my lists were very different than they are now. Some staples on my grateful list have always included my cats, my husband, music, and coffee. My looking forward to lists have often included travel, music festivals, concerts, and nights out at my local brewpub. And while I am still grateful for those things and am still hopeful that I’ll be able to attend a music festival again someday, my priorities have become different over the last month.
I regularly write down that I am grateful for a job that allows me to work from home, a good broadband internet connection, a house with some outdoor space, and the occasional sunny day. I could easily make a list of 10 or more things I’m grateful for every single day. But the looking forward to lists have gone a whole different direction, and are much more difficult to produce in this time when every day seems exactly like the one before. I find myself looking forward to dragging my wagon full of recyclables down the street to the temporary drop off spot. I look forward to whatever my husband is creating for dinner each day. I look forward to a phone call with my parents. I look forward to whatever my current binge watch is (currently The Sopranos, so I should be good for a long time). I look forward to a treadmill run. A craft project. A virtual happy hour. I’ve learned that I can look forward to the little things, much like I’m grateful for the little things. It’s a change in perspective to accommodate the current times. But I hope that I can carry it forward into the new normal once we get there. Because looking forward to things (and of course being grateful for things) feels good. And we could all stand to feel good right now.