6 Editors Share the Handwritten Notes That Helped Them Stick to Their Goals

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As our editorial director Sacha Strebe introduced in her letter to you at the beginning of 2018, January was all about reclaiming ourselves in lieu of that “new year, new me,” cliche. So when we sat down as to a team to set New Year’s resolutions in mid-January, we felt it was time to try something new, something that might help us stick to our goals for longer than a week. Instead of focusing on those familiar mantras about losing weight or creating a new persona, we prioritized self-reflection and inner growth, hoping that these value-driven goals would make it easier for us to achieve our aspirations both big and small and abstract and specific, from health to relationships, career, and more. And to take things even further, we wrote down words of encouragement on a Post-it note to serve as a constant reminder to ourselves and dubbed it “The Sticky Note Challenge.”

Since we believe that self-improvement shouldn’t be isolated to one month out of the year, we’re checking back in with the editors who participated to see how it went and whether or not these little reminders helped us get a little closer to achieving our ambitions. If you’re looking for some inspiration for your own goals and you’re curious to give this goal-setting method a try, scroll through the editors’ intentions and corresponding habits, goals, and sticky note messages below.

The Message: Nurture your dreams.

The Reminder: She stuck her note in the living room, by the bed, and near the dining room table.

The Takeaway: “My goal is all about making time to sit by myself, uninterrupted and start nurturing my dreams. And if I didn’t get time that week, then it would make me feel more determined to make time the next week. I think it also helped to have the notebook and pen there and ready. I also found starting at a blank page was hard, so it helped to write down a few journal prompts. I started with these from one of my favorite authors and poet, Alexandra Elle.

“[I learned] that I need to practice what I preach. I’m always gifting my time to others and advising them to follow their passions and take the leap of faith to live an inspired life (thanks, Amy Purdy!), but I don’t do it myself. There’s never been a better time than now, this moment, and even though it was just a simple Post-it note, that small piece of paper was a powerful reminder to choose ‘me’ over the ‘other’ for a change. I have tried adhering to other goals in the past, but it’s the ‘sticking’ part that tends to fall by the wayside. I really liked the concept of sticking a Post-it of my goal in the place where I’d be doing it as a constant reminder. I first read about this idea when Gigi Hadid said she used them to stick to her workout goals. This proved effective because I do need those visual cues to remind me.”

The Message: Today is going to be a good day!

The Reminder: She stuck her note on her bedside table.

The Takeaway: “I loved having a little sticky note around to remind myself to stay positive and calm at the start of each day. I think it worked as a small reinforcement of my goals and held me more accountable than I would be if I hadn’t written it down and put it in a visible place. I ended up leaving another sticky note by my desk with the same message, and throughout my work day it would catch my eye and was a little reminder to take a deep breath and not let daily stress get the better of the beautiful day I’d been given. I learned that I benefit from taking a moment to be mindful of my experiences each day. It sounds cheesy, but telling myself that each day was a good one helped me maintain a positive mindset.”

The Message: Be myself.

The Reminder: He stuck his note to the edge of his computer screen.

The Takeaway: “I stuck my note at the edge of my computer screen as a constant reminder to be myself in all aspects of life. Even though I don’t look at it 24/7 (I’m not that chained to my computer), seeing it there during the workday further engrains the idea into my head that it’s okay to be me. I sometimes have a tendency to constantly please others—even if that means compromising how I feel. This note helps me change that. This now acts as a constant reminder to put myself first and stand up for what I believe in.”

The Message: Practice Spanish for 30 minutes.

The Reminder: She stuck her note on the bathroom mirror.

The Takeaway: “I’m a big sticky note fan in general, so I loved using them as reminders to stick to my goal of practicing Spanish every day. I’ve found that if I don’t write it down, it’s not going to happen, which was true of this challenge. I also learned that a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. My boyfriend got in on the challenge and started writing encouraging notes in Spanish to me every day so that I could practice and stay motivated at the same time.

“When I moved my sticky note from the cover of my Spanish workbook to my bathroom mirror, it definitely came in handy (mainly because it was harder to ignore). I love listening to podcasts while I go through my morning skincare routine, so moving my sticky note reminder in a prominent place on my medicine cabinet motivated me to listen to Celestial Blood over my usual go-to podcasts.”

The Message: Practice gratitude in moments of stress.

The Reminder: She stuck her note on the bathroom mirror.

The Takeaway: “I had a few big changes happen in my life, so to remind myself to be grateful when feeling like things were out of control really helped me keep perspective. I learned that our goals are always a process and that you have to be patient with yourself and understand that self-improvement is a never-ending journey.

“I hung Post-it notes on my mirror and practiced reading them every morning, and then I also named five things I was grateful for before going to bed. Overall, I’ve always loved leaving memos to myself and it really helped improve my overall mood and outlook.”

The Message: Freak out! Or don’t.

The Reminder: I stuck it to the back of my phone since that’s the one thing that comes everywhere with me.

The Takeaway: “Though I value self-awareness and am a huge overthinker, it can be really difficult to stay introspective on a regular basis and in a healthy way rather than just waiting to do so when I’m upset as a way of venting. So my intention was to be more introspective and to lean into my flaws, fears, motivations, and desires on a regular basis so that I can get better at processing bigger life transitions instead of keeping them at bay.

“I did this by writing down two highs and one low a day, as well as any anxieties that came up. The sticky note message was meant to encourage me to keep things in perspective and remember that it’s okay for me to be upset and let myself process whatever it is that’s bothering me and to continue to be self-reflective, whether it made me feel anxious or bored. While I didn’t journal every single day about my highs and lows, I did start jotting down certain things that triggered anxiety. My sticky note mantra calmed me down when in those moments, too.”

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