Last week I shared with you my thoughts on planning your year. Today I want to shift gears and talk about chronicling your year.
Planning is how we look ahead and determine the direction we want to head. Chronicling is making intentional choices in the moment so that we can look back and appreciate where we have been.
I am a chronicler by nature. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I have always had an internal drive to capture moments, knowing I will want to look back on them in the future. As a result, I have tried a lot of different methods for chronicling, and today I want to share some of those with you.
If you have never considered chronicling, don’t feel overwhelmed. Chronicling is meant to be a joy, never a burden. Chronicling is how we are going to give our future self the gift of glimpsing back with nostalgia and warmth at the days we are living currently. The key to chronicling is to think of it like brushing your teeth. It’s something you do as a part of your regular life versus a massive project. Small, incremental chronicling that you can sustain for the long haul is a better approach than over-the-top goals that you will never execute.
WEEKLY PHOTO ALBUM CARE.
One of the easiest ways to chronicle your life is through photos. I mean, who doesn’t already have thousands of shots on their phone? The trick here is to be intentional about how you organize those photos so that they serve a purpose. I create albums on my phone at the beginning of the year, each one with a different purpose. One day a week (I usually do this on Sunday night), I scroll through the photos from the week and assign them to different albums as needed. For example, I have a “Hurley House 2022” album from last year. I take a lot of photos at work, and at the end of the week, I would choose the ones that best represented memorable work moments and transfer them to the album. At the end of the year, it gives me a nostalgic collection of all the best moments, and I love scrolling through. There are a million ways you could customize this idea based on what you want to capture, and I find the weekly routine very manageable.
PLANNER AS A JOURNAL.
I use a lot of digital tools in my life, but I am also a paper planner person. Paper planners can quickly become an easy way to chronicle your life. You are already recording dates and events, and with just a tad bit more attention you can jot down any number of life events or feelings along the way. At the end of the year, my planner looks like a scrapbook, and I love it.
FAKE INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT.
I have never done this, but I heard about the idea, and I wish I had started this years ago. The idea is to set up a “fake” Instagram account, meaning not the account you primarily post from. The account is private, shared with no one, and serves as a holding pen for photos and captions that you want to publish into a Chat Book at the end of each month or quarter or year. This is a genius approach to photo album maintenance.
I’m sure we have all seen the one-sentence-a-day journals that are meant to be maintained over time to see how your thoughts change and grow. I love this idea, but I especially love it for teenagers and college students. It’s a bit of a commitment over the long haul, but don’t you wish you had a five-year record of how you felt while you were at college? I think this would also be a great idea for new parents, newlyweds, or anyone entering a new season of life.
Pick your hobby. Tea. Running. Stitching. Dinner Menus. Houseguests. Parties. Nail Polish. Travel. Whiskey. Gardening. Make a habit of regularly recording details from your hobby in a notebook as you do them. Over time, you will build a chronicling of a very specific area of your life. My daughter Norah does this with her books and her teas, and I know in twenty years she is going to love looking back on these pages.
I think this one would be particularly good for children, and I wish I had known about it sooner. The idea is to find a jar and get a stack of index cards or small pieces of paper. At the end of every week, you write down the highlight from the week and put the paper into the jar. At the end of the year, you empty the jar and relive your year by reading through the scraps of paper. If I did this with my children, I think I would keep the best scraps of paper and compile them on a page. What a treasure!
I used to think of chronicling like a project or a performance, and if it wasn’t perfect, I had failed. But as I grow older, I learn that the best time-capsules are the ones that track the mundane moments and remind me where I have been. Don’t overthink it. Just find a way to keep a record of your days, and then live! One day you will look back and be glad you gave yourself (and your loved ones) the gift of chronicling.