I distinctly remember sitting across from my therapist, griping on and on about how my perfectionist behavior was ruining my life. I detailed multiple instances of intense self-criticism, people-pleasing behaviors, and my inability to take risks. Feeling fidgety and uncomfortable, I adjusted the box of Kleenex on her desk so that it was parallel to her notebook. Through the inflexibility of her poker face, a slight smile formed. Clearly the irony was not lost on her. I sighed, exasperated. “So, basically, how do I fix this?”
There are no easy solutions for deeply ingrained behaviors such as perfectionism. However, she did recommend starting with a sketchbook as an avenue for creative expression. “Creative expression” sounded simple enough! Visibly excited, I shared my plans of marching to the store following our session to purchase new markers and an adult coloring book that I had my eye on. She was silent for about ten seconds which in a therapist’s office feels like a month. With a slight tilt to her head and a cool but firm expression, she said, “You could benefit from a blank page in your life.”
What feelings come up for you when you see a blank weekly spread in your planner? Anxiety for what it could be? Guilt for what it “should have” been? Join the club. We meet every Friday to share Mildliners, washi tape, and our deepest insecurities.
When I purchased my first Passion Planner three years ago, I felt guilty whenever I missed a week of planning. Adhering to my perfectionistic tendencies, I would plan retroactively, spending hours of the current day trying to remember what I did at 7:30PM of last Tuesday. I was literally living in the past. There is nothing wrong with going back to fill in past weeks, but doing it from a place of shame weighed on me. I started to tell myself that I didn’t have my life together and that my planner wouldn’t look as pretty if I missed a week. At one point, I even debated not using my planner altogether because there was so much blank space.
Seeing planner guilt come up in Passion Planner community forums and discussions made me feel less alone. Knowing that this experience is shared among so many #PashFam members helped me realize that it’s completely okay to skip a few weeks of planning. It’s okay to even to come back to the Passion Planner after skipping scheduling for months at a time. We’ve all been there, but we don’t have to stay there. Let’s explore some strategies to overcome perfectionism and stop planner guilt in its tracks.
1. Go Undated
There are those of us who see planning as a hobby. We have Pinterest boards devoted to layout inspo, and we find trips to stationary and craft stores not only fun, but exhilarating. Then, there are those of us who plan out of necessity or plan intermittently as required. It can be easy to get planner guilt if you are one of these folks using a dated planner. Fortunately, the solution is simple: use an Undated Passion Planner instead. The benefits of using an Undated planner are endless: you maintain complete control over your schedule while being able to skip planning for weeks at a time without even a tinge of remorse.
2. Personalize and customize to your needs
Comparing your Passion Planner to others is a one-way ticket to the land of planner guilt. There are many beautiful and artistic Passion Planner spreads out there, with an array of colors, creative drawings, and multichromatic stickers. My planner does not look like that, and that is 100% okay. I identify as more of a functional planner, therefore my pages contain structured lists and themes, where color is used more for purpose than aesthetic. Knowing and owning my planner style has played a significant role in helping me prevent planner guilt. What about you? Is your planner style sentimental? Aesthetic? Minimal? When you embrace your unique style, you have the freedom to be inspired, not intimidated, by what is happening in another person’s planner.
3. View passion planning as experimental, not eternal
My friends and I have this running joke when we are in the process of finding dates to hang out: “If it’s not written in our planners, it’s not going to happen.” Yes, my friends are all #PashFam members too.
At times, I can take this perspective to the extreme, believing that if it’s written in my planner, it should and must happen. Inevitably, I learned that life does not always go as planned. Within a few months, I knighted Wite-Out and erasers as some of my most prized planner supplies. Over time, I began to see erasure marks and crossed out plans as a part of my process instead of “mistakes.”
4. Meet yourself where you are
Life is hard. During certain seasons of our lives, it can be even harder. Battling mental health challenges, caring for ailing family members, grieving the loss of a loved one, and healing from traumatic experiences are only a few examples of such struggles. At those times, feeling guilty about not Passion Planning is the last thing any of us need to worry about.
I was recently inspired by a #PashFam member who was recovering from a major surgery. She had completely covered the weekly layout of her planner with inspiring quotes and vibrant magazine clippings to reclaim the blank space devoted to her healing and recovery.
Confide in the Passion Planner as a source of comfort during hard times--it is made to carry more than your plans. When it seems like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, the Passion Planner is there to carry some of the load, not add more to your plate.
Whether you are new to the #PashFam or have been with us from the start, you are not alone! We have all been on the struggle bus of planner guilt. Coffee stains, crossed out schedules, and blank weekly spreads show that we’re not only planning, but living.