Will power can be a tough thing to muster sometimes.
Coming from someone who issues herself daily and monthly challenges all the dang time, even I admit that it never truly gets easier to follow through on intentions I set for myself. Almost every day I wage that internal battle with myself - am I going to remain accountable to the things I set out to do?
Am I going to do my daily lettering piece today? Am I going to write that blog post? Am I going to get myself to the fitness studio?
And sometimes I fail. Sometimes my progress stalls and I find myself starting all over again on one of my self-imposed "challenges." But, no matter how many times I fail, I still continue to work towards my goals because I have a desire to get better and work toward the brightest version of myself.
If you’re like me and you’re constantly trying to challenge yourself, but you too struggle with ways to help you follow through or stay accountable, today’s post is for you!
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a link to this article on Quartz.com. The title was, “Coloring in this picture helped me erase $26,000 in debt”. Um… talk about a link you want to click, right? Who doesn’t want to wipe out debt by coloring!
The writer, Amy, went on to explain that she wanted a way to keep herself accountable to paying off her mountain of debt. Remembering back to when she was young and her mom, a sales associate, would work toward her company’s annual sales incentive trips by coloring in a simple drawing issued by the company, she decided to give the idea a try by coloring in a canvas of swirls (each one representing $100 paid toward her credit card debt.)
As I read this, the whole idea really resonated with me. I’ve always been drawn to documenting my progress in a visual way, whether it was placing heart stickers on my calendar for every day I went to the gym (true story) or checking off boxes for every day I stuck to my health plan.
This article made me realize though that progress trackers can be a heck of a lot more fun than simply some boxes to draw exes through! I mean… that swirl drawing is pretty sweet, right?
So I decided to make one of my own.
At the end of last month, I was ready to start fully committing to my fitness and I wanted to do something drastic. I challenged myself to attend 20 Dailey Method (barre workout) classes in 30 days. I’ve accomplished this once before and when I did two years ago, I saw major, noticeable changes in my body. It’s no easy task, though, and so I knew I needed some sort of visual way to keep myself accountable. Taking Amy’s lead, I drew this funky geometric/neon thing (the Dailey Method colors are bright yellow, green and orange!)
Every day I go to class, I get to color in a triangle. Every day I rest, I fill in with stripes. That way, at a glance I can see how much I’ve accomplished and how far I have yet to go.
Surprisingly, it’s working! I’m on pace to hit my goal.
Seeing the success of my own progress map, I started wanting to make progress maps for every commitment in my life.
This month I’m also trying to post on the blog five days a week, so I created a nice little map for that too. I get to fill in the letters as I complete my post each day. (This is Friday’s post which is why it’s not colored in yet!!)
So far, the whole idea of creating a fun and visual way to stay accountable to myself is working well! I love that each of these “maps” is taped up by my desk in a place where I see it every day. Plus, it feels surprisingly good when I get to take them down and color in my little piece of the puzzle each day.
Like I mentioned before, accountability is a hard thing.
Turning intentions into habits takes effort and will power, and if some silly drawing can make it even 1% easier to choose to stay committed each day, I think that’s worth it!
If you think creative progress maps could help you tackle your own goals, I’ve created three funky and free printable progress maps for you below, all with 31 places for you to color in. That's one whole months of accountability for you (and you can always add to it with your own creativity if you need more "days."
Get these three downloads by clicking the button below and entering your email address. You'll be signed up for Self-Made Society and I'll send you weekly inspiration and motivation for living your brightest life.
I also recommend checking out Amy’s website, Map Your Progress, where you can purchase all kinds of her cool swirl progress maps.
So, what do you think about the idea of creative progress maps? Do you think having a tangible progress tracker helps you stay accountable? Let me know in the comments!
Click below to grab these FREE Creative Maps to color in!
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This post first appeared in my Monday newsletter to Self-Made Society -- Made Vibrant's email community for soulful creatives. Sign up and you'll get instant access to my e-book, A Year Made Vibrant, with over 50 of my past weekly newsletters.