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.

 

Organization

Is a clothing box subscription for you?

There are many different clothing subscription services available that offer you a personal stylist who selects items for you and ships them automatically. There are many possibilities, from high-end, rentable outfits, to quirky, inexpensive monthly t-shirts or socks. There are also subscriptions for cosmetics, jewelry, lingerie, accessories, and just about anything you could think of, but let’s focus on clothing for a moment.

Is a clothing subscription service for you?

Are you comfortable with someone else picking clothing for you? If you love to shop, love trying on outfits, love shopping bags and bringing your purchases home, then a subscription service won’t scratch that shopping itch. Likewise, if you are a bargain hunter who enjoys finding that great sweater or dress finally on sale, a subscription service will rob you of the thrill of the hunt. But if you’re like me, and feel overwhelmed and anxious in a store full of choices, you just might like having your choices made for you and sent in a fun mystery box every so often.

Are you disciplined enough for a subscription service?

There are rules, and if you don’t follow them, you can end up paying a lot for items you never wear. For instance, what is your clothing budget? Make sure you know before you sign up. Don’t agree to receive a box every month if you don’t have the funds to pay for it. Why tempt yourself to overspend? Take time to assess your wardrobe and really think about how often you buy clothes and how much you can spend. Make sure the subscription service you choose allows you to space out your boxes, and to cancel a box or change the frequency of your boxes if you need to.

Can you trust yourself to make returns in a timely manner? Most services provide return packaging and free shipping for returns. The trick is, you have to try the clothes on, make a decision, check out on the website, and get the package to the post office on time. Remember, they have your credit card number, and you have agreed to the terms. If you are too much of a procrastinator, you can end up paying for clothes you don’t want and will never wear.

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Can you work with your stylist to get the most out of your subscription?

When you sign up, you will be asked to provide your weight and measurements. Be honest! You want clothing you can wear NOW, not in a few months when you lose ten pounds. Also, the more detailed you are in describing your lifestyle, favorite colors, age, activities, and preferences, the more likely you are to get items that you will like and wear. If you never wear jeans, tell your stylist “no jeans.” If you like to choose your own jewelry or shoes, say that. Tell your stylist about the climate where you live. Also, and this is very important, give instructions about what kind of care you want the garments to receive. For instance, I specified that a few dry-clean only items were okay, but nothing hand wash only, EVER!

Will you be comfortable sending feedback?

Make sure the service you choose makes it easy to send feedback when you check out. You are not likely to go back and do it later, after you have sent your unwanted items back. Every time you send feedback, you improve the choices you receive in your next box. (If the service doesn’t listen to your feedback, you need to switch services.) Likewise, check to make sure the items are within the price range you set when you signed up. If a service is sending you items that exceed your budget, send them back and SAY WHY YOU ARE NOT BUYING THE ITEM. They will correct the problem, because they want you to buy. If you accept items that are out of your price range, they will keep sending them. You can’t really blame them, you know?

Make sure they don’t require you to give referrals. You don’t want to have to do that. However, some services will give you credit when you do make a referral, so make sure you know how to claim it.

Can you discipline yourself enough to evaluate how the service is working for you?

Keep records of what you buy. It is as easy as printing out your receipt when you check out. After two or three boxes, evaluate the cost and see if you are staying within your clothing budget. If you are a really diligent record keeper, make notes of how often you wear each item and calculate the cost per wearing. Nick Saban is not going to be there to say, “Young lady…” and guilt you into not making purchases you shouldn’t make.

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If you are going over your budget, is it because you are buying items that you are not 100% satisfied with, buying items unintentionally because you didn’t return them in time, or because you are receiving boxes too frequently? Whatever it is, take action to fix it. I suggest doing this within three months after you start the service. Any longer and you might get into credit card trouble, which we don’t want.

Wouldn’t you love to clean out your closet?

After six months, get rid of things you don’t wear. Let go of those pants that are frayed at the hems, and that jacket with the broken zipper. Don’t keep your fat jeans and your skinny jeans. Keep your “right now” jeans.

Can you be brutal?

You are the customer. Do not be afraid to cut the cord if the service is not working out great for you. If a shirt falls apart the first time you wash it, send it back with a note asking for a credit and explaining that you need clothing that holds up. If a service is not responsive to problems like this, then cancel and try a different one. Make the service work for you.

Which service is the best?

That I can’t tell you. Here is an article that gives the basic info on several services. Be sure to check the website of the service before you sign up and read the fine print. I use StitchFix and I give it a B+. I would give it an A, but they do tend to have price creep, and they have sent me a couple of hand wash items when I asked not to get any. But overall, for me, it is a terrific service and keeps me from EVER having to go to the mall!