Yearly planners and goal setting journals are infantilizing women with overtly childish designs and that wastes our time, money, and energy. Are you like me and embarrassed to whip out your planner in public because it looks like you stole a 5 year old’s notebook….?
Why Is Finding a Planner SO Difficult?
It’s difficult to find a scheduler and a goal planner all in one, that doesn’t look like a 5 year olds sketch book. All this year I had become tired of having to write and then rewrite in the second notebook AND in my Google calendar what I had set out to do each week. It was a pain to carry both notebooks and keep both on my desk at the same time.
See more about the planner I was using here: 30 Minutes is all you need to succeed? Ep7
So my friend and I went on a hunt to find one that combined both.
Lord, it was a struggle and I’m not sure we even succeeded…
The planning market seems to be:
either you need to get different books for different purposes, or
find a really over the top feminine (read childish) one that comes with “bonus” stickers and bubbly font that just makes me personally feel like an idiot ALSO it’s like $60+
The planner I got came with a sticker "hot mess coming through" INSERT EYEROLL 🙄
Maybe I’m in the minority of women here (I don’t believe I am), but I’m not going to use little bubble stickers of airplanes to mark I have a flight next week. I can just write it down…I’m not a toddler. And the fact that these planners often mark as a selling point to have “150 bonus stickers” just irritates me because I’m just going to throw them away, getting mad that trees were killed to print this childish nonsense.
In my mind, it’s these possible options:
some women actually like this stuff, and my thinking is possibly a minority,
the market is catering to a small percentage of women and therefore all women get these child options,
the goal is to embrace our “feminine” side while saying I can do business and wear pink high heels with stickers,
OR women are just ignoring it because it’s what they’re used to, like me, and buying the least offensive option
Do Men Use Planners?
I realized I couldn’t remember a single time I saw a man with a planner or who talked about planning or goal setting beyond sales targets in my marketing job.
When I asked my husband if he had ever used one he seemed legit thrown off, asking “why would I?”
I became confused because how does he keep track of dates?
Yes, I’m the one who does that now and if I didn’t do it he would definitely forget and things would fall through the cracks. BUT things would NOT fall apart and he obviously survived and thrived before he met me.
Ignoring the fact that my husband is a white male, which of course is favored in society, he’s earned a PhD and is very successful at his chosen career. So he clearly knows how to set goals and achieve them. Right?
Are Women The Planners?
Planning seems like the thing that women are targeted to do. The planner and goal setting notebooks, seem to be by in large a feminine market. Men don’t seem to do all this planning and goal setting, at least down on paper, yet they rule the world…
Curious about men’s thought process and how they plan things, I started to think if how women are taught to “plan” and “manifest” the life of their dreams, is wrong.
Men don’t seem to use color-coding, goal setting, schedulers, etc. They’re never taught to “manifest” the life of their dreams…yet they obviously conquer entire worlds and colonize and build industries (I’m not saying this is a good thing btw). This all has to require some kind of planning? You don’t just decide to get on a ship and enslave a whole continent without some forethought, right?
Biology Is the Reason Why Women Plan
It turns out, that women’s brains are more active than men’s especially in the pre-frontal cortex which is associated with impulse control, predicting consequences, managing emotional reactions, and planning for the future.
This part of the brain allows a person to create and execute plans, to help organize actions in a certain sequence. For example if I do X then Y will happen.
With this knowledge that women's brains are more active in this prefrontal cortex it then makes sense that we like to plan things and imagine the consequences of “if I want this goal I need to do XYZ and I’ll need a plan on how to get there.”
This seems great except when you realize that women are twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than men. This is due to many reasons but could this constant planning and projecting, and always being aware of consequences be part of the problem?
Women are also more likely to ruminate and reflect compared to men.
Rumination is defined as “engaging in a repetitive negative thought process that loops continuously in the mind without end or completion.”
So women are more likely to reflect on themselves and then start to ruminate on things they’re not happy with or proud of and it creates a vicious cycle where you think that self reflection with the goal to improve is good until all you do is cycle about all the ways you’re not “good” and then can feel even worse.
Planning Is Hurting Our Self Worth and Value
Bonus points: men don’t seem to feel as poorly about things when they mess up, compared to women who are more likely to suffer from depression and rumination.
Men typically view failures as a “whoopsie I’ll know better next time,” or their failure was due in part to circumstances outside their control so they can get back up and try again because it wasn’t solely their fault. They are still worthy of that goal.
Women, based on data, seem to ruminate a lot more and take a lot more blame for mess ups than necessary. And this reflection and rumination could hold us back because it makes us question our self worth and if we’re “ready” for the goals we want, or even the steps to get there.
We seem to worry too much about having the “right” tools, timing, knowledge, etc. and planning for it all to happen and don’t spend enough time just doing it. This planning could be the thing that’s holding us back.
Should You Stop Using Planners?
I’m not saying you should stop using planners. What I’m saying is just think about what the planners and goal setters are doing for you. For me, I realized a lot of what I was doing was essentially busy work to make myself feel like I was moving the needle.
But each week, I often kept doing the same things so that the weeks reflection didn’t do anything except make me annoyed at myself. Not that helpful. The thing that was most helpful was in the moment I was paying more attention to what was getting done vs. what wasn’t.
This planning and reflections each week was only reinforcing what I already knew that I wanted to do.
Sure, writing my thoughts down so I could see “make this dentist appointment, call this person, etc.” was helpful for general keeping of appointments, but beyond that, I knew what I “should” be doing each week if I wanted to work toward my goals. I didn't’ need to keep writing it and reflecting on it.
Just Do It
Maybe we need to kill all this planning and just do whatever it is that we know we should do towards a goal. If our goal is to write a novel, do we need to write down and reflect how each week went and make it a goal to write 5 days a week? Or could we just say okay “I know I want to write a novel which means I need to write…I guess each day I’ll just sit down and write for whatever time I have afforded.”
It could be as simple as that. That could be all the planning you need. You know you want something, so you just do it. It might be all the planning that’s required. That seems to be what men do…
Challenge for You! 🥳
If you keep a planner or goal setting journal, track how long you typically fiddle in it during the course of a week.
be honest, is this actually helping you move the needle OR is it just busywork masquerading as productive and feel good goal setting and self reflection?
I was surprised to find mine was at least an hour at the beginning of each week and then around 30 minutes or so over the course of the week to add and readjust things.
Cliff Notes 🧗🏻♂️
Do you get hype for a yearly planner that comes with stickers saying things like “#goals”? Probably not.
The market is infantilizing women in search of goal journals and yearly planners with overtly childish designs, prompts, and reflections that wastes our time, money, and energy on goal-setting busywork. Are we so busy color-coding and reevaluating that we’re not moving the needle..?
In this episode we discuss:
how the planner and goal setting journal market infantilizes and belittles women
how maybe all the self reflection in these planners is wasting our time and making us feel worse about ourselves for what we did not do each week
are planners just busy work disguised as “manifesting” and “goal setting”
have you ever noticed that men don’t use planners…?
Mentions in this episode:
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