Depression · Life · Organization

Goal setting, planning and doing

I have the great privilege of being my own boss, and mostly the master of my own time.  With that freedom comes the danger of drifting along not really accomplishing anything. This was especially dangerous for me a few years ago when I was struggling with unrecognized depression. PJs all day is great every once in a while. Not every day for a year.

Thanks to a good doctor, a therapist, understanding family and friends, and a husband who is my best friend and basically, a saint, my depression is controlled. It doesn’t rule my life.

I am still a super introvert, but that is not the same as being frozen, exhausted, frustrated, guilty and hopeless.

One of the best things about getting healthy again is being able to enjoy planning for the future. I have always been a calendar keeper, a journal keeper and a list maker. Planning is very satisfying for me. Sometimes so satisfying that I use too much mental and emotional energy making the plan, and not enough actually doing the thing.

About a year ago, I discovered the Self Journal. It is a hardbound calendar, planner and goal-setting tool. Each journal covers 13 weeks, and the days and dates are blank, so you can start anytime. It includes goal-setting guides, weekly progress pages, and daily pages that are two facing pages. I use it as a combination calendar/planner, journal of what actually happened that day, and an art journal where I include drawings, photos and affirmations and quotes.

I am starting my fourth 13-week journal today. The first one was not very successful. It was more of an experiment in how to define my goals. I wasn’t the greatest at carrying through on the day-to-day plans. The second journal was better. I read books about goal-setting and learned to hone my goals to better fit the 13 week time period.

I use mind-mapping software to break large goals into parts, and even sometimes into tasks with specific deadlines. Some people do this simply with lists, or spreadsheets, but I enjoy the colorful visual of a mind map, with its bubbles and clouds and arrows. Whatever motivates, right?

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I marked out the text because the amount of detail I go into is embarrassing.

My third journal was the most successful yet. I can look back and see exactly how close I came to completing my big three goals. (For the record, I was about 50%.) I’m not discouraged. I can look at the weekly pages and see where I strayed from my goals, and also what exactly got me sidetracked. I had very few “dead” pages, where I failed to plan, and later had no idea what I did that day.

Now, as I set my goals, I am reminding myself that I am planning what I can accomplish in 13 weeks, not in the next year, or in the rest of my life. I have settled on general categories for my three goals: Self-Care (diet, exercise, reading, hobbies, time with friends and family), Getting My Shit Together (cleaning, organizing, developing good daily habits, minimizing the “stuff” in our house and garage) and Helping (making the world a better place, activism, volunteering, donating, being a friend, supporting others.)

Blogging and other writing blurs the lines between all three goals, so that will be part of every day’s plan.

Promise not to judge me and I’ll show you a random page from my last Journal.

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Some days are better than this, some days are worse.

Here are some of the resources I have used so far:

The Self Journal

Mind Maps Classic for PC – Available free from Microsoft Store. There is also a Pro version, but Classic works great for me.

Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results, Stephen Guise

Best Self Alliance Facebook Group Lots of support here, and good ideas for how to creatively use the Self Journal. There is no one correct way to do it.

Kodak Mini 2 Wireless Instant Photo Printer This prints photos from your phone. They are 2 x 3, and have peel and stick backs, so they fit in the Journal. The photos are very clear and sharp. The photos are expensive, so I use them sparingly to print pictures of family events and fun times, or occasionally a finished project I’m proud of.

Staedtler triplus fineliner marker pens These are great for color coding systems, or just  making certain entries pop. They don’t bleed through the paper, and I find them easy to write with.

 

Depression · Inspiration

I can’t BRAIN today.

Before I begin, here’s a BIG DISCLAIMER: this is not a cry for help, or a RED FLAG, or a whine for pity. This is just me relating through writing, my latest stumble, my glitch, my little detour off the rails.

Maybe someone reading this will say, “Oh, my gosh – ME TOO!” Maybe not. But I think those of us who live with some forms of mental illness, like depression or anxiety, or with brain differences that challenge us, like ADHD or dyslexia, must all go through these times when we just get tired of holding it together, exhausted from checking and rebuilding that scaffolding that holds up our lives. We get tired of making sure our medication is filled, and our responsibilities are all logged on our calendars with multiple reminders. We stumble, and stuff starts falling through the cracks. Continue reading “I can’t BRAIN today.”