It’s the beginning of a new year, and it seemed like a good moment to revisit my systems, including how I plan my days. I’m a minimalist when it comes to planning. I plan as much as I need to: to reduce stress for myself and others; to give myself some parameters around how much will be enough so that I don’t work all night; and to make sure the things that really matter to me happen.
But I’ve always been wary of traditional approaches to planning – guided as they often seem to be by external ideas of success, and sufficiency. Many planning approaches feel too restrictive and rigid for me – as someone with a constitutional tendency towards rigidity, the last thing I need is a rigid planning tool!
So I was excited when two of the women I’ve learned the most from over the past four years as a business owner – Jen Louden and Danielle LaPorte – recently released (or in Jen’s case, re-released) books sharing their own approach to planning.
“If you’re like most women,” says Jen, “you spend your days fulfilling commitments and juggling multiple roles, in a constant dance between everyone else’s needs and your own. If you’re exhausted by this over-striving, rushing, making-life-happen mode, don’t give up–there is a more intuitive, more grounded way to guide your life.”
And she delivers on that promise in The Life Organiser, offering a feminine, heart-based approach to life planning that makes room for, and even embraces, chaos. As Dr Brene Brown has said:
“In this important book, Jennifer Louden shows you how to live with more courage and greater intention and how to embrace the truth that you are enough right now.”
Jen was a pioneer in the field of women’s desire, and the role our desires – and our abilities to know and feed those desires – play in living a meaningful, pleasurable, powerful life. She’s been a role model, a teacher and a mentor for me in all those areas and this book – The Life Organiser – has been a revelation, so much of Jen’s wisdom in one accessible place.
Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map, is an entire life planning system built around this core teaching of Jen’s work – that our desires are a reliable guide for our lives. The fact that these two women – both of whom I look to for inspiration and guidance on how to live a good life, and at the same time build and run successful business that serves others – have come to the same conclusion about the importance of knowing and attending to our desires makes me sit up and pay attention.
When you add to that mix the teachings I got from my dear friend and wise woman Rachel Cole this past summer on the importance of knowing, acknowledging, honouring and taking responsibility for feeding my own hungers you won’t be surprised to learn that this ‘desire-based’ approach to living is becoming central to how I live.
But to understand what a big deal that is, and why I am surprised, you need to know that I grew up in a rural Brethren home in which my desires were not only irrelevant to the daily plan, but were suspect—best ignored in case they led me into dangerous, sinful, or frivolously wasteful territory. Reframing my heart-felt desires and belly-grabbing hungers as wise and reliable guides in my life has been quite a radical shift for me.
So, my next planning tool is the The Desire Map Day Planner by Danielle LaPorte. This is a companion to Danielle’s book The Desire Map, and is designed to help you, as Danielle says: “put your core desired feelings at the centre of your week.”
“Most goal-setting systems,” says Danielle, “fail to harness the most powerful driver behind any aspiration: your preferred feelings…The Desire Map program is changing all of that. You could call it holistic life-planning. The inner meets the outer. The spirit drives the material. … THIS is where your soul meets your schedule.”
As someone who resists a lot of planning tools for the simple reason that they lack soul, this was a very appealing concept. In practice, however, I found using The Desire Map challenging, my inner puritan kept butting in to say ‘What you desire is not that important. Think about the starving children in Africa!’ Anyone else have that?
Anyway – eventually – with help from Jen, Rachel and Danielle – I came to see that this desire that all children everywhere be well, healthy, happy and safe, is a core desire in my life and that is can also be expressed in the form of how I want to feel about my place in the world, and about my work in the world.
So the best thing, for me, about The Desire Map Day Planner was that it motivated me to pull my Desire Map book back off the shelf and use it to do some big picture planning for this year.
The Desire Map Day Planner is out of stock, but I have one extra copy which I’m giving away as part of this post. I also have one copy of Jen Louden’s The Life Organiser — the original desire-based day planner — to give away.
For a chance to win, simply leave a comment on this post or on the relevant post on my Facebook page by the end of Monday 3 March.