I’m a couple of months out from the end of my most intense and grueling project: my yearlong goal to become more self-reliant.

Among my recommendations was to do a basic life plan. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it’s a plan that goes beyond simply listing goals and living life according to them. What I meant by that was that I wanted to do basic life planning, before I set anything further out, because life changes and priorities shift every day, and there’s no point putting a schedule of a day into practice if you’re not monitoring your life in a forward-looking way. While I had implemented some basic life planning in my personal life in other settings, it was way more rudimentary, like making plans in Gmail or using my phone or computers to do tasks that had already been decided for me. But for my massive project I needed to come up with a life plan that I could implement and take pride in and implement every day.

This life plan began with me doing a daily activity tracking of my goals and life. Instead of logging where I’d been and what I’d done throughout the day, I’d log where I’d been, what I’d done, and how I felt about it. I’d essentially do a flat rate study, but this one would be from my point of view and focus on the day rather than the time.

I think that’s important to note. When I set a big goal, I often do it from a place of selfishness, to satisfy my needs, desires, and constraints. The flip side of that is that once I’ve accomplished a goal, I can (a) feel good about the achievement, and (b) stop caring what people think about it. There’s no virtue in doing a fancy day plan once you’ve already fulfilled a goal. Rather, for me it was important to get started right away. Living a day at a time allowed me to feel good about what I was doing.

This process took time, but it worked. After a few months, I was able to identify the most common and helpful behavior I was doing, which were mostly personal and self-initiated. When someone asked what I was doing, I could have a list ready that included the personal actions that I’d already taken, the day I’d been; I could easily answer questions about the day by simply listing what I’d been doing with such and such apps. I also noticed a lot of patterns in my day. Since I was able to mark down the things I did with how I felt about it, I could easily identify what often worked and what often didn’t when I tried new routines or changed my life plan.

I’m hoping it serves as a handy model to help others figure out what they need to do to get started.