The past few months, I have struggled with how to use the pages before and after the monthly view of my planner. They seemed too pretty to "ruin" with random notes.  But that's what it's for, right? To be written in?

I see so many pictures of perfectly decorated planners and sometimes feel like I'm on an island because mine is purely functional. I love seeing Instagram photos of layouts from people who enjoy decorating, as well as pictures from those who give me ideas about how to make my planner work better for me. But oh, how the blank page is intimidating! What if I write or do something wrong? 

That voice in my head says I should try this like this person. I should do this, I should do that, should should should. The internal suggestions constantly pop up and try to undermine my progress. I've learned that for me, living in the world of "should" is a dangerous place.

I'm the kind of gal that hoards nice bath soaps or candles. I have notebooks and journals of all kinds. They wind up gathering dust and eventually are thrown out in a manic purge to restore some order to a closet or drawer. So many times I've forgotten I even had something I was saving. Lately I've really tried to enjoy things that are meant to be enjoyed and not wait for another day. Too often, that day never comes. Life is too short to miss the simple pleasures, and though it's been a hard personal challenge, it's also been rewarding.

There's still the nagging "should" though. Every time I get a new _______ I vow I'll write in it every day. Every time I try a new workout plan, diet, anything really, I mean to stick to it. And I try. But it doesn't always work out that way. I have all of these grand plans I dream up after one too many cups of coffee and then wind up never executing on them. And then I feel awful about myself. I think sometimes I hoard the nice stuff because in my head I somehow don't deserve it if I'm not perfect with it. What's the point of a fancy bath scrub if I'm using it hurriedly one weekday morning, a stolen moment in the shower while the kids claw at the curtain or fight over an action figure? I should wait for a calm weekend with a glass of wine, Enya playing, and a sparkling clean tub, right?

I have to tell myself there are no rules. Ok, there are some basic ones, but for stuff like this, who cares? If you don't like something, switch it up. If you "mess up" a notebook, rip the pages out and start over. If you want to use the bath scrub, you can always get more!

So, back to the pages before each month. I was tired of them being blank. With the "use it and enjoy it" frame of mind, I decided to do a step challenge with my Fitbit for October and also write down one thing I was thankful for each day.

I wasn't challenging myself to my step goal (though that was a nice bonus) but rather the point was consistency. I wanted to enjoy the buttery paper and also feel like I'd accomplished something, however small. Some days were incredibly difficult to come up with something - I think once I was thankful for math because it meant I could check my homework and knew I'd get 100% on it. Other days I was thankful for a nice dinner or specific members of my family. But really, no thing is ever too small to be thankful.

It was a nice foray into the holiday season mindset of being grateful. A big motivator and bonus was when I won a workweek hustle challenge with friends. I walked the trail behind my office every day to do it, and it was refreshing to take some time to myself. It was a much needed mental recharge and it felt good to use that part of my planner for something that I could tell was making a difference.

My next challenge is to find a purpose for the blank mini notebooks I have been carrying around in my purse.

So, what do you think? Let's cross out the shoulds and enjoy.

This guest blog post was written by Amanda Cahill, mom, friend, and Limelife Planners supporterPlease share and repost this blog entry with your friends! All we ask is that you give credit to Limelife Planners and the post author.