Goals // Week 08: Keep Doing What Works

This week my work days will begin get longer as I continue to heal and my ability to take on more roles and responsibilities grows. It’s been almost a year since I was last able to pour so much of myself and my time into my work but I’ll need to be mindful of my energy levels and make sure not to push myself too hard or too far.

With the extended days and lengthy lists of tasks that have piled up I know it will be all too easy to exhaust myself trying to make up for lost time.

This week I’m just to keep doing what works and focus on my most basic needs. It’s remembering to do the little things like meditate, drink water, rest, and eat that make the big goals possible. If the foundation crumbles the mind, the body, the mood, the whole day, and any chance at at productivity come down with it.

This week I will:

Wake up with my alarm, the first time it goes off!. I utterly failed at this goal last week. Worse than simply hitting snooze a few times I would get up and then actually return to the bed. Between the time needed to meditate and my resolution to start the workday 30 minutes earlier, I can’t keep starting my days this way.

Meditate every morning. Last week I only managed to work in one 10 minute session and it wasn’t nearly enough. Meditation and mindfulness have been critical elements to managing and coping with chronic illness. I have felt my mental health steadily declining since I stopped the practice, and I worry how far I will fall if I don’t return soon.

Eat meals and take medications on time. My work schedule has been a little chaotic lately which makes it hard not only to eat on time but to remember to be hungry at all! This has made healing all the more difficult as I miss out not only on the nutrients I need but miss the mealtime triggers for my medications. Bonus: Stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water at least every half an hour.

Not eat lunch at my desk. I’ve been missing out on 30 or 60 minutes of uninterrupted journal or blog time by blurring the line between personal and work time. My work day is already being extended enough and in order to maintain a healthy relationship with my work I need to draw clear boundaries and take advantage of time I have every right to claim as my own.

Write 500 words every day toward new blog posts. Last week I opened a few old unfinished drafts and managed a few awkward paragraphs of progress on each. This week I’d like to keep the momentum going and work down my running list of future posts one by one with the hope that I’ll find my old groove.

This week I will not fall into despair or self pity. It’s easy to get low especially now with so much uncertainty and loss around us. Our personal problems seem magnified. Our loneliness is deepened, and all of it feels impossible to overcome.

Personal goals feel unimportant in comparison to global grief but time hasn’t stopped ticking and we’ve already lost too much. It’s time to start trying again. It’s time to let a little bit of the pain go.

You can do this.


Photo by Klim Musalimov on Unsplash

Goals // Week 07: The First Steps

I’ve struggled to follow my own advice lately. In my defense, I have been dealing with a lot of loss and a lot of pain, a lot of depression and disorientation. I’ve lost my way and my motivation to find it again. I’ve been miserable and motionless. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself and making excuses.

So, what is different this week? This week I’m finally getting tired of my own bullshit. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being sick. I’m tired of stressing, worrying, and dwelling. I’m tired of being afraid.

This week I’m taking back my sense of control. My choices are often limited, sure, but they are not nonexistent. Inspiration can be found anywhere and time is only waiting to be found. Energy might be in short supply and motivation is hard to muster, but if you remember that managing both is the real work, the rest will come easy.

This week I will:

Wake up with my alarm. For months I had been doing so well willing myself out of bed without hitting the snooze button but returning to a full work week has meant needing more sleep than I’m used to and made it harder to head the morning alarm. This week I’d like to work out a way to get the rest I need and wake up when I want to, not when I have to. Bonus: Stop taking so many naps. At best they don’t help and at worst they make the fatigue worse.

Meditate every morning. Through much of January I kept up with my daily habit, but I missed a day and devastation that failure wrought left me unable to start again. The truth is, I can’t afford to keep avoiding the practice. For me, meditation is as important to healing as medication and starting the day with the body and breath makes all difference.

Delegate, or at least ask for help when I need it. I’ve always had a hard time trusting my coworkers to get the job done without my direction or input, but I’d like to learn to be more flexible and open to different ways of seeing the solution and different ways of getting there too. I’d like more mental space for myself, and that means sharing responsibility and giving up control.

Return to my journal. I’ve been away from my physical journal nearly as much and I have from my digital and I’ve missed it just as much if not more. This week I’d like to get back to it, and my planner too, by carving out my lunch time specifically for analog writing. The mornings will now be for digital work and the evenings are for reading.

This week I will not let the failures of these past weeks get me down. This year I will not allow guilt or shame of missing a goal or falling behind in the short term keep me from making the progress I know I can in the long term if I would only take the time to reflect and refocus. It’s a long way from here to December, and it’s unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that each week’s goals can be set and met without failure or falter.

Finish not just each day, but each week, month, and year and be done with it. A new one will always begin as soon as one ends, and you cannot make the most of the current if you are still carrying the weight of the last. Let it go.

The first steps after a stumble are always the hardest. The sooner you get them behind you, the better.


Photo by Patrick Wittke on Unsplash

Goals // Week 07: Keep It Simple

This week is already starting off on a rather negative note. I have a throat infection I’m fighting off and had to take the first day of the work week off to rest so I’m ready for the infusion center and my new medication starting on Tuesday. All this while still teaching the new employees at work and trying to keep in mind the pile of little errands and items to complete before the week’s end. I’m overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted already but I’m doing everything I can to turn that around and into excitement, enthusiasm, and energy.

This week I will:

 Get well. So far this winter I have had an upper respiratory infection, an ear infection, and I’m now on my second throat infection that I fear is leading to another ear infection too. I regret not getting a flu shot this year and live in fear every day of contracting it or the equally nasty streptococcal pharyngitis. I have to work harder to get well and stay well. I will take my medications and supplements religiously, disinfect surfaces around me, and wash my hands more often.

Update: This cold was the worst I’ve had in a long time. This one scared me. I was in so much pain I nearly gave in and went to urgent care but I knew it was too soon for them to take me seriously or do very much for me. Rest and fluid, rest and fluids, that’s all they ever tell me so that is what I did and after more than a week I’m in a lot less pain and breathing a lot more easily. I may just live through it.

 Read 100 pages of It by Stephen King. I started It this past weekend and just 40 pages in I already know I will love this book as much as just about every Stephen King book I’ve ever picked up, but I know this will be a difficult read. First of all it’s long, over 1,150 pages long, and it’s heavy so I can’t carry it with me wherever I go. It’s an “at home read” so I will have to dedicate time to it every night. Bonus: Finish Book 7 of Little Black Classics Box Set, Wailing Ghosts by Pu Songling.

Update: I read 300 pages! If I keep up this pace I could finish this tome in just over 3 weeks! I doubt I will keep it up though. I tend to get burned out on long ones just after I pass the halfway point. That’s why I’ve been reading two books at once. This book is so long I foresee multiple instances of burnout and more than one extended break. So, I’m slowing down a bit and adding another book to the mix. I’m shooting for six weeks instead.

Get reacquainted with my to-do list. I’ve been struggling to complete tasks for weeks now and I know it’s because I have failed to even glance at my to-do list in weeks. I had tried to move the list from analog scraps of paper to a list in my Google calendar but the benefit of paper was being able to keep the list in front of me at all times. THis week I would like to get back to that and create a hybrid system of keeping a master list online and a physical daily list in hand.

Update: When I wasn’t working I was dead to the world. I had only enough strength to live in the present and nothing left over for dreaming, planning, or plotting. I had nothing left for anything more than that basics and the bare minimum. I knew it all would have to be put on hold before I could even begin and so, didn’t bother wasting the mental energy on lists or calendars.

Print and fill out an editorial calendar, by hand. Just like my to-do list a digital editorial calendar doesn’t help me much because it’s too easy not to look at. It’s too easy to forget about entirely. I’ve noticed that I sit down to write and if I don’t have an idea or prompt ready to go, I give up right away. This week I’m going to start a new calendar with a list of prompts and projects to work on so I can’t ever say “I don’t know what to write about”.

Update: Like my to-do list I simply didn’t have the time or energy to brainstorm new ideas, start drafts, or jot notes but I made sure to at least print blank calendar pages of the next couple of months and as soon as I am feeling better, more focused, and motivated I will have them on hand to begin filling in.

Make a new blackout poem. Last weekend I started working my way through my hoarder-sized pile of magazines ripping out useful images and blocks of text and tossing the rest. Now that I have a sizable stock of material to work with I would like to reincorporate this meditative practice back into my evening or at least weekend routine. Bonus: Re-work the cutout poem from last week and post.

Update: I couldn’t make this one happen either but I have the pages I want to work from all ready to go on my desk once the headaches and sinus congestion subside enough for me to concentrate without pain. I have the cutout poem from last week reworked and edited but for some reason I cannot bring myself to share it. I may shelve it until the time feels right.

Find a new balance. I’ve been working under the same schedule for years and years but with a new role and new responsibilities comes a new work hours and an increased demand on my attention and energy. I had hoped that these demands would come only every other week or less but it looks like I’ll have to let go of that idea. Things aren’t going to “die down” anymore and if I want to avoid burnout, I need to find a new way forward in my pursuit of an equitable work/life balance.

Update: This week I swung too far to the other end of the spectrum and took too much time for myself and my needs. It’s what I had to do, but it’s not something I can go on doing. I haven’t found the balance yet, but I have decided that no matter what happens through the rest of this month and the next, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The last day of school isn’t as far away as it feels and one way or another fewer work hours and more time for me are on the way.

This week I will not complicate things. My goals are simple and 100% doable if I make the time to do them. I fail when I get distracted, when I allow new ideas or the needs of the moment to monopolize the now. The goal is to stop trying to do everything all at once. Instead, I should do each thing one at a time. I should not overwhelm myself or place more demands on myself than I know I can meet.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 06

Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash