The Power Of Seven

I took a writing course recently -- well, it was more of a business course -- taught by Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn) and Orna Ross (Creative Writing, Creative Publishing, Creative Living). I learned a lot from it about the different economic models for making a living as a self-published author, which was brilliant, as that was the point of the course.

But there was a hidden gem I discovered.

For a while I've been trying to get rid of my to-do list. I have always been an obsessive list-maker and recently realized that it was some sort of elaborate ritualized procrastination. All those lists I was making ended up weighing me down and stopping me from actually doing anything.

At one point Orna talked about how she didn't like to-do lists either and that she would instead "draw" her lists, putting the words into cloud shapes, and always focused on seven things. She found that was the number of things she could accomplish in a day, week, month or a year. (I hope I'm not misquoting her here. This is what I remember her saying. It was at the beginning of the day-long class and I'm not sure the caffeine had started working yet.)

Anyway, what I remember her saying was brilliant. I have latched onto this magic seven idea ever since and have been "drawing" my to-do lists every day and week with different shapes around the words. I'm not really on board with the clouds. I like more variety anyway.

I dig the way shapes take up more space than words, just like doing things actually take up space in our lives. It seems like you can write just about anything down on a never-ending to-do list without acknowledging the time that these things take up in our lives. It's more concrete somehow and weighty to create shapes. (Dad, the fractal image is for you.)

(And for those interested in the detail, I use a new square sticky note each day. With a separate one for the week. I separate work and home for the week, but not for the day.)

I feel like this post has digressed a bit from what I was intending, which was to advise using this gem of a trick in your goal planning for 2017. Last week I posted about my New Year's Resolution, but promised I would write about goals this week.

This year I am using the Power of Seven (with shapes of course) to think about what I'd like to do in 2017. I won't list them all here, but I did think long and hard about what those seven would be as it's a much more limiting number than 10 when you try to do it.

My advice is to include the things that you might not think about as goals, but are very time-consuming. Any project or thing happening in your life that will take up time over the year. Like if you're planning a major holiday that needs a lot of planning, not to mention the time to actually take the trip. Or my example is that we are extending our kitchen. In the past I wouldn't have thought of this as a goal, but it will be massively time consuming. To not include it on the 2017 list would be bonkers.

If you're curious, my two writing goals are to finish the first draft of my novel (I'm half-way through) and to re-write my memoir to turn it into Mind, Body & Scroll, the book (working title, obvs). I'm trying to be a little more realistic in my list of things to accomplish this year. Let's not revisit whether or not I got my 2016 goals done.

Coming up next week: I answer a reader question on my book and podcast recommendations for mindfulness/meditation. (Which reminds me to say: you can email me with questions anytime at mindbodyandscroll[at]yahoo[dot]com. Or send me a message on facebook or twitter.)

Are you setting any goals for 2017?

Photo credit: Abby Lanes Cloud Texture via photopin (license)

Photo credit: fractal dream vit trop via photopin (license)

No comments

Back to Top