My favorite way to plan the day is to use the virtues to guide me. Dictionary.com defines Virtues as conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles. The Virtues Project defines virtues as the very meaning and purpose of our lives, the content of our character and the truest expression of our souls. Virtues are the content of our character, the elements of the human spirit. They grow stronger whenever we use them.
By planning your day with the virtues in mind, not only will you make progress on your goals, you will develop your personal character and cultivate more meaning and purpose into your day. I call this Virtues-Centered Planning, because it is planning centered around the virtues.
In Order to do Virtues-Centered Planning, You’ll Need to Use One of the Following:
How Virtues-Centered Planning Works:
STEP 1: Contemplate your day and make a list of your activities (tasks, to-dos) and appointments (events, meetings). You can also identify experiences you plan to encounter during the day.
Here's a personal example: I'm walking in the morning (ACTIVITY), attending a debrief with my boss (APPOINTMENT) and I think I'll get stuck in rush hour traffic on my way home (EXPERIENCE).
STEP 2: For each activity, appointment or experience, identify the virtue(s) that will support you in showing up as your best self.
Here are the virtues I selected for the above activity, appointment and experience.
ACTIVITY: Morning walk - As I put on my walking shoes, I contemplate the virtue I want to cultivate on my walk. If I need to brainstorm ideas, I’ll contemplate Creativity during my walk. If I need to just be in the moment and give my brain a rest, I contemplate Mindfulness or Peacefulness during my walk. Perhaps I want to count my blessing, then I’ll contemplate the virtue of Gratitude or Appreciation during my walk.
Let’s say you have a goal of starting a routine of walking, but need some encouragement to get started or to keep motivated. In this case, you would select a virtue to help you change your mindset so walking becomes a part of your routine. You might put on your walking shoes and call on the virtue of self-discipline or determination. Perhaps you’d contemplate the virtue of Accountability or Integrity if you were sharing your progress with with your coach or accountability group.
APPOINTMENT: Debrief with my boss - Every Monday at 9am I have a debrief meeting with my boss. As I gather the resources I need to discuss with my boss, I contemplate the virtue I want to cultivate during our meeting. If I'm presenting a new idea, I could call on the virtue of initiative. If I'm reviewing the details of a proposal, I could call on the virtue of orderliness so I present my ideas in a clear and organized manner.
EXPERIENCE: Stuck in traffic - getting stuck is traffic is never a highlight of my day, but sometimes it's something I have to deal with. Sometimes it drives me crazy and other times I crank the music up and sing along to songs on the radio. I can also call on the virtue of Patience or Optimism anytime I'm stuck in traffic.
Oftentimes, things come up that we haven't planned for. This is still a good opportunity to think about what virtue you want to cultivate in the moment. For example, if you had a change in your schedule you can cultivate the virtue of flexibility. You can also identify a virtue you want to experience during the day. For example, you may decide that you want to embrace the virtue of Thoughtfulness or you can pick a virtue card randomly to use as your theme for the day.
STEP 3: To deepen the experience, read the corresponding Virtues Reflection Cards, you selected in Step 2. If you're up for a challenge, write your thoughts in your journal.
The Best Time to do Your Virtues-Centered Planning
The best time to do your Virtues-Centered Planning is the time you are most likely to do it on a consistent basis.
My preference is to do my Virtues-Centered Planning at night. I've created a ritual before going to bed: I grab my journal and identify the activities, appointments and/or experiences I have for the upcoming day. Sometimes I have lots of activities and some days it's a combination of all three. If I don't have anything that jumps out at me, I'll still pick a virtue I want to cultivate for the day; such as kindness or enthusiasm - it just depends how I'm feeling. I also like picking a random virtue to serve as the theme for my day.
Strategies to Help You Remember to Focus on the Virtues
To help you remember to focus on the virtue when you need it, you can set an alarm on your phone, write the virtue on a post-it note and place it where you'll see, place the Virtues Reflection Card somewhen you’ll see it throughout the day (ex. in your workspace) or put it as a screen saver* on your smart phone or desktop. In order to use a Virtues Reflection Card as a screen saver, you'll need to purchase the Virtues Reflection eCards (http://virtuesshop.com?wiz_id=48) - these are JPEGs of all 100 Virtues Reflection Cards. Select the one you want to create as a screen saver (either on your phone or your computer) and save the image to your photos. Then follow the directions of your specific device to select it as your screen saver.
As I mentioned, Virtues-Centered Planning will empower you to make progress on your goals as well as develop your personal character and cultivate more meaning and purpose into your day. Happy planning!
For more info about The Virtues Project, go to http://shannondsilva.com.
Shannon D. Silva is the Founder and CEO of a personal empowerment group called, Unstoppable Women of Silicon Valley and Unstoppable Women in Action. Her specialty is helping women break free from procrastination so they achieve their career goals.
Shannon shares her message through workshops, learning circles and retreats. She is a Facilitator of The Virtues Project and Appreciative Living Learning Circles. She is professionally trained as a Certified Self-Discovery Coach and a Dale Carnegie speaker. With a reputation for captivating audiences with her enthusiasm, authenticity and passion, Shannon is known throughout the community as a catalyst for joy, transformation and creative self-expression. She is the proud author of the book, “52 Way to Practice Self-Care and Create More Joy in Your Life and a series of Virtues-Centered Living eBooks.