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The Passion Planner helps keep you organized and ambitious.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “I don’t make resolutions, I make lifestyle changes,” and though the intent is admirable, why can’t we just have both?  Some of us began our road to transformation a week or so into the game, while others are still plotting their upcoming goals to be sure they’re in the right headspace for what they’re about to get themselves into.

Either way, the path to empowerment in 2018 seems to be rooted in self-discovery, as 2017 was such a “dumpster fire” (are we tired of that phrasing yet?) for so many of us. You can’t control what your neighbors do and think, but you can control your own actions and goals. If your resolution is to make, or continue, lifestyle changes to increase the possibility for less figurative trash fires in the year to come, journaling might just be the path for you.

Keeping up with a journal, planner, or diary of some sort is far more influential to your everyday life than what you probably remember from your teenage years. The physicality of writing your goals on paper and seeing your weekly achievements at the turn of a page truly does make a difference when it comes to motivation and success.

Rachel Wilkerson Miller, a former Houstonian and senior lifestyle editor at Buzzfeed, literally wrote the book on how to start.

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Former Houstonian Rachel Wilkerson Miller literally wrote the book on planners with "Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide."

In a 2017 interview with HelloGiggles,Wilkerson Miller said, “There’s something about having a dot journal or keeping a diary that’s like this act of saying, ‘My feelings are important. My life is important. My thoughts matter.’” Dot journals, or bullet journals, are notebooks filled with numerous small dots in a grid-like pattern, providing the user complete freedom when it comes to organizing said journal. This form of planner is the most time consuming—and sometimes the most expensive—but it does allow for customization to your heart's content.

This writer's go-to journal for a third year in a row, though, is the ever reliable Passion Planner. The layout works wonderfully for those interested in separating daily and weekly schedules, and it includes inspirational quotes and activities for each week. The book begins with a helpful guide on how to single out your short-term and long-term goals, and monthly pages throughout the journal allow for brainstorming future ambitions. The weekly “space of infinite possibility” section also comes in handy for quick note-taking or space for a cathartic creativity release through simple doodles.

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May Designs, started in Houston but now based in Austin, aids in pretty and practical planning.

We’ve talked about May Designs before, and for good reason: For top-of-the-line customization without having to draw it all out yourself, this Houston-founded, Austin-based company is the way to go. Beyond choices between a dated or non-dated and large or small notebook, May Designs offers front-of-notebook personalization, stylized agendas (including an specifically for hard-working teachers), and the choice of standard lines, dots, or empty space for inside pages.

Whether your aspirations for the new year are physical, mental, emotional, or all of the above, diving into the world of journaling can help you along whichever path you choose. Trust us: You’ll be glad you gave it a shot.

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