Goals // Week 20: Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

This week is the beginning of the end of the school year for many grades and that means a winding down of one aspect of my job, and a ramping up of another. For me that means it’s time to do all the employee training that we didn’t have time for during the year and even more so now that we have to make up for what was missed during the Covid quarantine months.

This week I’ll have to focus a lot more mental energy on my day job than I have in the past weeks we consider our “down time” of the year. I’m actually looking forward to it. It turns out that having too little to do for so long can be just as nerve-wracking as having too much. I’m ready for a change of pace. I’m ready to feel useful, knowledgeable, and accomplished again.

With the reallocated metal space comes the need to be more increasingly mindful of how I spend my free time. I’ve learned over the years that one of the way to stave off burnout during times of increased workload or stress is to make sure you do not waste what little free time you have. Make sure you mark it. Make sure you fill it with what truly soothes the soul.

With that being said, this week I will:

Finish editing my review of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and my piece for World IBD Day. Enough words have been written now. Adding more will add nothing. Instead, focus on subtracting, rearranging, and substituting. Take this unorganized, unclear, and, probably, uninteresting mess and mold a readable post from both. Do not let perfect be the enemy of done.

Read for 30 minutes every night before bedtime. I failed again to make this goal happen even one day out of last week, but in failing I have learned a lesson. I realized if nothing changes then nothing changes and if I expect this week will be a success, I can’t keep doing what led to failure before. So, I have a “reading time” alarm and a routine on my phone that turns on “do not disturb” and turns of my wi-fi and mobile data to keep me off of social media.

Heed my meditation schedule and food restrictions. I’ve been weaning off of another round of steroids and as I come to the end of the taper my appetite and cravings have gotten the better of me. For someone with an inflammatory bowel disease this is like playing with fire. This week I will take better care of myself and remember that while the schedules and restrictions aren’t much fun, they are what keeps me happy, healthy, and productive.

Take a daily walk. Though sunshine has been very spotty lately the temperatures are rising and, most days, there is some time to get out and at least around the block. For the days when the clouds and cold, or rain and thunder roll in, there is the treadmill. There is no reason to continue to be sedentary and with the increased appetite and the additions snacks and calories coming in I have to find a way to increase my physical activity too.

Move my scheduled hour of writing from after work to after dinner. It turns out there are a lot of things I need to do after work and almost none of them are related to writing. Instead of fighting myself every day, I’ve decided to simply ask what works better? It turns out, after the day has already been lived, after the to-do list is done and you’ve done had your fill of people, that is the best time of day to do your thinking in and I’ve always done my best thinking when I write.

This week I will not get too far ahead of myself. I will not let anxiety over the coming weeks workload push me to take on more than I can handle or avoid altogether what terrifies me. The key is to know how much each day can hold and fill every one of them just to the brim. No more, no less. There is always more time we wish we had and more we wish we could accomplish, but some must always be left for tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.


Goals // Week 19: Time Without Work, Without Worry

This week I’m absolutely taking it easy. Between my birthday celebrations, Mother’s Day, upcoming weddings, and the world opening up in general, it suddenly it feels like there isn’t enough time to do all the things I have to do let alone anything I want to do or even to do nothing at all! I’m in desperate need of resting both my body and my mind, of finding time to be present, and of silence and solitude.

So, I’m keeping the goals light this week. The outside world is putting on the pressure and rather than pile on, I think it best to be kind to myself and provide some times of relief and release. There needs to be time for things I enjoy: writing of course, but other things too like podcasts, music, TV, games, walking outside, sleeping, laughing, and reading. Time spent not just without work but without worry too.

This week I will:

Finish writing my review of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil and draft a piece for World IBD Day next week. I have the words written but the anxiety and resulting avoidance over editing and ending any piece of writing, no matter how trivial, continues to plague my existence. The only way through it is through it.

Read for 30 minutes every night before bedtime. Utterly failed at this goal last week, but I’m trying again. I’m already so behind in my reading goals for the year and every day the gap between where I should be and where I am grows. I’m trying not to be so hard on myself, but I can’t waste the days this way. If the trend continues, social media sacrifices will have to be made!

Make one or two black out poems. I’ve missed pouring over newspaper and magazine articles remixing the words of writers better than me into Instagram poetry. The results aren’t technically perfect, nor are the sentiments profound, but the work forces the mind out of its course and feeds creativity. More than that, it’s just plain fun!

Keep my headphones close. I’ve missed the magical way music can transform my mood into anything I want or need. Music can bring you up, bring you down, transport you far away, or bring you back to the present. When you are stuck behind a desk all day, wishing you were anywhere but here, music is the only way to travel.

Spend some time behind the wheel. For those new to the blog and unaware, I suffer from pretty severe driving anxiety. I rarely drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary, but I’m ready for more flexibility and independence in my life, and that means I have to face my fear and start getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s been far too long and I am far too late, but it’s better than never. I can do this!

This week I will not be so hard on myself. It’s been hard not to compare my place or progress with others. Everyone seems so capable and everything I do takes so much effort and half the time results in failure or disappointment. I know this is a problem of perspective, and I know that there are so many things I can do better than most. It’s just most days and in most situations, my soft skills seem of so little value.

This week I will work on finding my own way rather than going the way of others. I cannot do what others do and expect the same results others get. I am me, and I can only be me, and using my unique set of skills I can pick a path that feels a better fit, that feels a better journey, than struggling along someone else’s rocky way.


Goals // Week 19: Lowered Expectations in All Areas

This week got away from me before it even began. Weekdays and weekends are so alike it’s hard to tell where or when one ends and another begins. So, the goals are being set a little late, but with no less enthusiasm or resolve. I’ll need extra focus this week since it may be my last of total freedom.

Next Monday the meetings to decide how and when we come back to work begin and shortly after I’ll find out my schedule. I knew this day would come eventually, but I just thought I had more time, time for me, time away from the world, before all the expectations and obligation had to begin again.

So, this week I will:

 Clear out one bag of trash from the basement and one bag of waste from the yard. The basement had to be demoed years ago and the backyard has fallen into severe neglect. The work that needs to be done is so overwhelming that I never can find the will to start, but a little every week can have both done on a few months if I’m consistant.

Work on the post idea from last week. I’d like to try my hand at writing more timely, relevant, or relatable posts. My hope is that the realm of current events will provide a natural deadline and the pressure and panic I need to actually start and then to actually finish writing things. I can’t let (what little) momentum I built last month wane.

Read another Penguin Little Black Classics. I’ve been slacking so badly on my reading goal and there really is no excuse for it. These books are less than 60 pages each, short enough to finish in a week and certainly within a week. I should be able to finish two or three but the current state of the world requires lowered expectations in all areas.

Finish one week each of courses The Science of Well-Being and Memoir and Personal Essay: Managing Your Relationship with the Reader. This is the last week when things will be easy to do and I have to take full advantage of that. These courses are simple but they are a sort of practice for the much more serious learning I want to do later. Prove you can do it.

Keep working my way through the mess in the “creativity room”. Like all major cleaning projects it looks worse the moment you try to make it better but the more you plug away, the more you purge and organize the better it feels. Soon I’ll have a space I can create in again.

Eat, sleep, move, and hydrate. This si becoming a regular here on the goals list and will continue to be until I get it right. Moving is getting easier, so is sleeping. Eating is still a struggle and hydrating still lags near the bottom of my priority list. It’s getting better, slowly. Bonus: Meditate and take your medication.

This week I will not give myself too many choices. We all want to believe we have the willpower to resist our own desires and cravings but desire, hunger, and need all overwhelm and though we may fight at first inevitably we give in especially when we are contending with fear, uncertainty, depression, and loneliness. When I can do anything I do nothing. When I get hungy I choose the worst things to eat. I say I want to I can’t and when I have to I do my best work.


Photo by Damian Denis on Unsplash