From to-do’s to inspiring aspirations

by Sara Marchessault

IAspirations am a hard core day planner kind of girl.

How about you?

I order my new day planner at the beginning of December, wrap it up, and put it under the tree for myself.

Every year, without fail, my husband looks at me opening my planner and says something like “who’s that from?” or “where did you get that gift?” just as I start to tear the paper. Then when I pull my planner out with a smug look of personal satisfaction on my face, he gives me his “wow, you are a total nerd look” and
we get on with our day.

I have been a faithful Franklin Covey customer for a long time. But in 2013, I wanted something different. My old planner wasn’t enticing to me anymore.

I decided to switch and branched out to purchase a new planner in 2014. I bought one that is designed by
an author I love, so surely the planner would be perfect!


It is July of 2014 and until two weeks ago I have been using my planner as a means of survival. There is no love of the organized page that I bring to life with my brightly colored pens. My sense of joy and discovery
as a part of my day is not peaked with inspiration when I look at the pages of my planner.

I have searched. I have gone to the store and looked. I have browsed countless planners on the web.

And I’ve finally decided it’s time to design my own planner. I know what I want and no one else is making it, so it’s time for me to make one.

This is where the to-do list comes in. I’ve been thinking about what should go into the pages of my planner. For those of us who like to use our planners, we need a space to put down our to-do list.

And yet when I write down “To-do” it sounds so dull and tedious.

To-do doesn’t sound at all like moving through life with joy.

It sounds like a list of things that need to get done, but there isn’t necessarily any feeling behind it. When we get up in the busy-ness of life, this is what we’re doing – checking things off our to-do list.
No one wants each and every day to be to-do list driven! Something more inspiring please!

In a recent conversation, the word “aspiration” came up. Aspirations….let that one roll over your tongue and into your mind for a minute and see if you feel a difference between aspirations and to-do’s.

According to Oxford, aspirations are things you want accomplish or achieve. Sort of like goals, or even a to-do list.

“My Daily Aspirations” is more inviting to me than my daily to-do list.

What do you think?

Remember the new planner I tried? I have started writing the word “Aspirations” on the top of the pages – ignoring the style and intended design of the page – and I am finding more pep in my pen as it moves across the pages.

Three very cool things have happened as a result of this shift in perspective from to-do to aspiration.

I am feeling more inspiration when I write my aspirations than I did with my to-do’s. The process of planning feels more creative to me and I feel as though I have more say in how I want to spend my time.
As I move throughout the day and check off those aspirations I’ve completed, I am in a more joyful space.
It’s becoming a habit now to include in my list something like “read for 20 minutes on the porch.” I never put this kind of thing on my to-do list, but for my aspirations, it’s just as important to my satisfaction with a day well-done as my trip to the grocery store.
Being hard on myself has significantly decreased. I just move my aspirations to the next day and enjoy the rest of my night. (Yup, I plan my day the night before). With a to-do list, there was a lot more judgment.

Do you think aspirations could make your daily planning process better?

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit or

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