Focus Stars: motivation without guilt

For a month now I’ve been doing a very successful experiment in orienting my time to what matters to me most, without beating myself up with incomplete to-do lists. I track my successful focusing by coloring in part of a simple drawing I made. I use a color that makes me very happy.

A printout of a picture of a seven-pointed star made of ribbons, with some of the points and ribbon sections filled in with green felt tip pen. The points of the star are labeled Creative, Resourceful, Calm, Secure in Self, Strong, Kind, and Connected.
a focus star from a day where I didn’t do any housecleaning, but I did spend lots of time on creative work

I have seven areas I am choosing to focus on. For each of those areas, there’s a daily habit I want to do. When I do it, I fill in that point on the star.

Each of those seven areas also has other related activities or habits. When I do a chunk in that area I fill in one of the pieces of “ribbon” that form the star.

My areas are:

  • Secure in Self
    Habit: holding boundaries and not ruminating.
    Related: maintaining differentiation of self*, autonomy (avoiding leaning into the people-pleaser trap), emotional maturity, knowing myself, personal identity, honoring my true self, ability to have distance from volunteer work.
  • Strong
    Habit: working out for 30 minutes three times a week (strength, stretch, aerobic) and get otherwise getting active on the other days.
    Related: good sleep, movement, stretching, walking, sexiness, dancing, healthy eating, managing my health care.
  • Calm
    Habit: 10-15 minute meditating.
    Related: time alone, nature, journaling, hobbies, stability, gratitude including with me as the object of gratitude.
  • Kind
    Habit: love and listening.
    Related: compassion, forgiveness, stress management, giving help.
  • Resourceful
    Habit: keeping food and finances on track, and doing a housework task.**
    Related: maintaining a pleasant home, dishes, tidying, laundry, saving, budgeting, ability to splurge sometimes, clothes that please me, calendar and time management, readiness and safety information.
  • Connected
    Habit: social time and planning for future social time.
    Related: mutually supportive relationships, communication, asking for help, community, volunteering.
  • Creative
    Habit: 30 minutes working on my main creative project
    Related: learning, sharing, making, showing up for my creative self.

Secure in Self and Strong really are the legs that hold up the rest and Creative keeps me excited, though everything contributes to my sense of well-being and the energy I have to do anything.

This gentler way of reminding myself to give myself what I want and need is working incredibly well for me. You can give it a try using these images:

Focus Star with no writing, two to a page for printing
Focus Star with Dinah’s categories, two to a page for printing

I’m not a visual artist, so I’d love to see them if others create their own Focus Star templates! Please share them in a reply to this post. 🙂

*This is a good three part overview of differentiation of self (1, 2, 3) by therapist Martha Kauppi.
** Grocery shopping, cooking, paying bills, handling finance/bureaucracy mail, all are part of that “on track”. I broke my maintenance housework down into chunks that take about half an hour or less. My goal is to do each chunk every eight weeks.

Author: Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg https://www.patreon.com/kabalor

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