As a 20-year-old, I mistakenly believed that faithfulness meant saying, “Yes!” to every request I received. Not only was that unsustainable, it was also very unfaithful because of the amount of no’s each yes meant. Although I didn’t know this quote at the time, I was living in a very unfocused way and was, by extension, unfaithful.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things. – Steve Jobs, WWDC 1997
Today it is obvious to me that faithfulness is a great need in my life, but how do I get it from paper to real life? I propose using more paper. There are three paper tools that help keep me faithful today: my journal, my 3-month wall calendar, and my Full Focus Planner®️.
My journal is a tool for faithfulness for three reasons. First, it helps me become self-aware. When I journal my thoughts, I discover what I’m thinking about myself and others. Secondly, it spurs me on to faithfulness because when I can see in writing what I’m thinking it takes care of my excuses. Finally, the words of Sir Fancis Bacon:
Reading maketh a full man; conference maketh a ready man; and writing maketh an exact man.
The exactness of my journal writing is not as perfected as my public writing, but there is a level of accuracy in it that encourages me to be the kind of person I think I am on paper. Journaling is a great tool, but it will all stay on paper unless it is moved to a calendar.
My 3-month paper wall calendar is only a new addition to my faithfulness toolbox, but it is already meeting a long-overdue need. First, it provides a visual snapshot of the quarter. When it looks empty, I can feel refreshed and when it looks full it reminds me to stand fast, be strong, and be faithful because this too will pass. Secondly, it allows me to have better communication. In my case it is with my spouse, but in yours it may be a co-worker or parent. We have three different colored pens we use for the different parts of our lives (school, church, family.) The tool does not have to be paper or just three months long but does need to not be digital. My brother who introduced me to the idea uses a 4-month white board with multi-colored white board markers. As soon as he erases a month that is finished, he writes in the next month.
Whichever calendar you choose to use is fine as long as it is not digital. The reason I believe it must not be digital is because electronics can be an enemy of focus as well as faithfulness. This is not a slam on digital calendars, because they are an important tool for our organization and planning where a lot of people are involved, but for our home a paper calendar makes the most sense.
Getting events on the calendar is a great tool for faithfulness, but the best tool in my toolbox is the paper Full Focus Planner®️.
My Full Focus Planner®️ has been a priceless tool for multiple reasons, but the best reason is their slogan:
Plan your Year | Design Your Days | Achieve your Biggest Goals
With 2020 just around the corner, it is the time of year when people think about New Year’s resolutions, but by February most people have forgotten or failed to be faithful with their goals. The proven system of planning is not all in the format which is paper, but rather in the built-in routines that are essential for any type of faithfulness. The morning, evening, and workday shutdown and startup routines are lifesavers for me. If I miss one of these, my faithfulness score for the day drops by at least 50%. The daily pages allow me to choose 3 items I’m going to make sure I accomplish for the day and gives me space to plan them into that day’s agenda. Although I’m not always faithful at using the tool, when I use it, it gives my faithfulness a great boost.
The bottom line: faithfulness requires tools, and they can’t get rusty. For Christmas this year, get yourself a Faithfulness Toolbox and fill it up!
- Buy a journal. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but the nicer it is the more likely you are to use it and not lose it.
- Get a 3-4 month wall calendar. It can be paper or whiteboard, but make sure it is easily viewable and usable.
- Test Drive the Full Focus Planner.®️ You may not yet be convinced to put up the $40 necessary for the full quarter planner, but you can get a two-week trial version here.
CONTRIBUTOR: Austin Shenk