Diamond-Cut Life

Rich In What Matters

Diamond-Cut Life random header image

Charting — And Staying — On A Course For 2014

December 29th, 2013 by Alison · 4 Comments · diamond-cut life

It takes discipline to be rich in what matters. Physical health, loving relationships, a rich spiritual life, financial health, work we love, community - these don’t happen by default, in my experience. I’ve become rich in all these ways, but only because I’ve spent years both charting my course, and then staying the course by tracking my progress, i.e. my habits.

This post supplies a method for charting your course for 2014, and then staying on that course. The staying is the hard part. Last week we looked back at 2013: how did we become richer in what matters? And in what ways did we not? (If you haven’t yet read it, I suggest scrolling down and doing so. It will help you identify the course you want).

Being rich in what matters involves making good choices on a daily basis - and weekly, and monthly. Tracking our choices steadily keeps us aware of what we’re doing and not doing. We stay focused, and encouraged to see some success, including partial success.

Assume that we’ll fail to one degree or another. Stay on the course regardless, like a jazz musician whose riff doesn’t work out, and who just keeps right on playing, anyway. (I love the way they do that.) 

Use my own chart below as a general template. Fill the top row with the habits you’ll use to become richer in what matters.

  • Some habits you’ll track with a check-mark — either you did it or not.
  • Some habits are best tracked with time devoted to them, as in, I ran for 40 minutes today.
  • Other habits happen on a spectrum of how well we do them, like kindness or addressing top priorities  (A for excellent, B for good, etc.).
 Week of Dec 30 - Jan 5 Prayer/Spirit’l Reading  Kindness to spouse  Exercise/ eating habits Work: did top priorities? Work on home finances  New email subscribers to my blog
Mon       /          /      
Tue       /          /      
Wed       /          /      
Thur      /          /      
Fri       /           /      
Sat       /           /      
Sun        /           /      
PLAN 7    /  7        A   4 hrs /  B      A        2 hrs  10

I’ve printed 52 of these on paper, one for each week of 2014.  As in past years, I’ll fill them in by hand daily (it does needs to be daily, I’ve learned). At the end of each week, I put totals and averages in the “Actual” row.

Be willing to add or subtract habits over time, depending on what is realistic or needed, and on situations beyond our control. For example, if my 90 year old father became deathly ill in 2014, I would take leave from my job to go be with him, and I wouldn’t worry about getting new email subscribers to Diamond-Cut Life at all. But I would need my daily prayer discipline more than ever.

Pay attention to what matters most, and devote plenty of energy to it. Not everything is equally important.

I realize electronic record-keeping is possible, and popular. It would be a disaster for me, though, because I’d be immediately distracted, and sidetracked, by email, comments on this blog, and the latest woeful story on the front page of the New York Times.  I suggest tracking your habits on paper, unless you’re excellent at ignoring electronic distractions.

We can all become richer in what matters in 2014. It’s not money that’s the currency of overall richness and happiness. The currency is discipline. Tracking what we’re doing supplies that discipline. I’d love to hear about other methods you’ve used to stay motivated and focused on what matters. Comments welcome, as always.

Related Posts:


Tags: ···

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Mike

    Though I probably won’t use your chart I did love this post, Alison! I’ve been dealing with time management “issues” for a while now. And it relates directly to being rich in what matters. The things that are most important to me and directing my energy down that path. I liked what you said about making good choices daily. I continue to work on that and the progression within has been with positive results! Thank you for all of your fantastic insight this past year, our friend! :)

    • Alison

      Mike, I like that your takeaway here was simply “let’s make good choices daily”. Whatever helps us to do that is valuable; a chart is just one way, out of many ways. Thanks for weighing in, and happy 2014 to you and Phoenix!

  • Kathy

    I read this somewhere and it has stayed with me a while now: through our decisions we quite literally become who we are. This is why I really like what Mike keyed on regarding making good choices daily. Because while we each make our share of momentous decisions, most are about mundane things of daily life. And we so often make them without realizing that it is these daily decisions and actions that are ultimately shaping our lives and who we become. At those times I find myself thinking that things seem to come so easily for others, it is good to remember that I have a good amount of say in who and what I become. It is my daily decisions that have accumulated and brought me to where I am today. And so I love the reminder, Alison, that becoming rich in what matters doesn’t just happen. It takes a plan and it takes discipline to stick to the plan. And both of those two things require making good choices every day.

  • Alison

    Well said, Kathy. I think it was Annie Dillard who said that quote you’re referring to about our choices becoming the fabric of who we are. She was one of the very first authors that I put onto my “Books That Matter” page.

    At any rate, the passion and conviction of your comments here on DCL help me to stay on track with my own choices, Kathy. Thanks!

Leave a Comment