Is It Possible…Part 2

Part 2 – Is it possible…

Here is part 1.

So the day I wrote the previous post, I was able to complete all four areas in my life. And it felt good.

But guess what. I haven’t been able to maintain that. And that answered my question of is it possible.

Or did it?

I still have all of my goals. Of writing every day, of reading through my reading list this year, of meditating or being active, all of these goals are still in place. So I had to come up with a new strategy.

I began by paying attention to how I was spending my time. No, I didn’t write anything down, I simply observed what I did or didn’t do at a given time. I discovered that I did have space in my life but I wasn’t using it wisely.

I discovered that I had space in the evening, after my official work was done. We will talk about what constitutes official work at a later time. I always have books sitting by my side of the couch but I seldom picked them up. I was too busy with my favorite distractions i.e. electronics etc.

What I also discovered is that for the first bit of time, I enjoyed this time with my games and surfing etc. But then I would get bored but I wouldn’t put the device down. And I still wasn’t reading.

I’d forgotten one thing about reaching your goals – you must be intentional about it. I wasn’t being intentional.

Now, I still reserve some time for electronics but I now will pick up my book during one of my breaks during the day and read a chapter. It doesn’t take long especially if there aren’t other distractions around like the TV or kids etc. And I am making progress on my reading list.

I listened to a podcast – Ann Kroeker, Writing Coach – that talked about the idea of spending time to plan for your goals. The podcast was designed for writing and writers but it can work for many different things. So I sat down and looked at my schedule and the things I wanted to accomplish:

Professional Development – specific to my official work
Learning – specific to my other interests I.e. writing and neuro-plasticity. Of course those things go together.
Self-care – I’m not great at this one
General house stuff – I can’t live and work in chaos.

My schedule is full but flexible – for the most part so to look at it and see different time slots for different things. The biggest change I’ve made in recent weeks is when I see space in my schedule, it isn’t for wasting but I could add something in there. Even if it is just 15 minutes, I could get so much more done if I worked in 15 minute increments.

When I looked at my writing time – which I have been better but not where I wanted it to be. It seems that I was waiting until evening to do this also. Regardless of what my day looked like, I would wait until I was done with my official work and then try to find the energy to write. Sometimes I was successful and sometimes I wasn’t. Thankfully, the successful times were growing more than the unsuccessful times.

But I wanted to be more intentional about my writing time. I want to get more done in that arena. But It is also something I could do with the 15 minute increments that I’d set out in my previous post.

What I’ve begun doing is to write during other down times throughout the day. It may be just 15 minutes or it may be the first of many writing sessions through my day. It’s the only way to reach my goals.

Meditation and or activity – yeah, I’m still working on that one but I am going to apply the same principles for my activity as I have for the other ones. I’m still a work in progress and it will come.

Until next time,

An Inventory Of Life

Every year on or near my birthday, I like to do an inventory of my life. I’ve done this in the past and wrote about it here. For the past couple of years, this has been less of a priority since things have been so stressful in my life. I’ve reexamined my years, but really focused on them.

This year as I’ve recently celebrated my birthday (I’m not admitting which one), I decided to go back to my previous practice of looking back over the last year to see my highs and lows. Of course, this will be an interesting exercise since my life is now different in many ways but it is still important to find the lessons that life always has to teach.

Questions I ask myself:

“As I look back over the last year, what worked for me?”

“Where was I most successful?”

“What could use improvements?”

“What do I want the next year to look like?”

Here are some thoughts I had to answer these questions:

Last year was so full of ups and downs, emotional highs and lows – really low and full of changes. One thing that worked for me is to take care of myself and to honor my own reality. For the most part this meant taking care of my own emotions and dealing with whatever came up. I was most successful in coming to the understanding that I needed to make some big changes which I was able to follow through on.

We could all improve on our lives but I had to think really hard about what I wanted to improve or what would have made last year even slightly better. I did think of something, actually a couple of somethings.

One thing that would have made things easier is for me to talk more about what was happening. And talk to the right person or persons. Instead I spent a lot of time not saying what I was thinking or feeling. I also spent time just complaining without trying to find a solution.

I also spent a lot of time thinking that I had to deal with things myself because I was the only one responsible. While it is true that I am only responsible for myself, there were others involved and yet, I was taking all the responsibility.

Another thing that could have possibly improved the previous year is better conflict resolution skills. It’s not something that I do well nor have I had really good examples to follow. It is something that I began working on towards the end of the year, which was too little too late.

The change that ended the year needed to happen, it was just a painful way to come to that realization.

The Future

So, what do I want the next year to look like? Also a very good question.

In previous years, I’ve used the five different areas of life to look at this: Physical, Social, Emotional, Cognitive, and Spiritual. Although I’m not going to review how I did in any of these areas simply because these weren’t a big focus for last year, I am going to plan for going forward.

Physical – This week, along with being my birthday week, I was diagnosed with mild Asthma. I did struggle a bit through the last year with this issue, I’m finally getting treatment. Yay, me! This year, my focus for the physical area of my life will include preventative care and positive treatment. My more specific daily goal is to walk. With proper treatment, my asthma, which caused problems with walking, I should have few issues doing this. Except for motivation, which is often an issue. I’m not sure how to deal with that at this moment.

Social – I have recently discovered that when you work somewhere for a significant amount of time, being social is built-in to the day. However, since I have recently begun working from home, being social must be more deliberate. I can be content just being at home, but I still need to have a social life. Its been hard-working out schedules but I’m not giving up. My more specific goals for socialization include attending my writing meetings that I have neglected and reconnecting with other groups of people. And, to schedule time with friends and family. I’m still working on this one but it is really important because otherwise I will hole up in my house and never leave. So not healthy.

Emotional – Oh the emotions!!! I’ve been working on this area for a couple of years and though I have some ups and downs, I feel as if this is one of the areas where I’ve done well. I will continue what I’ve been doing while adding journaling. I have always turned to journaling but for some reason in the past year or so, I’ve left it behind. No more. I am working on creating a morning pages habit (Julia Cameron) . Mostly I’ve been successful – it needs a bit of work.

Cognitive – I do have to say that this is one area where I have to do little work. I love learning and challenging my brain. In fact, I often have to hold myself back in this area because I can take on too much. Although I am working on a couple of courses, my main goal is to complete my reading list of 30 something books that I created through the help of Ninja Writers at the beginning of the year. If I get through half or three-quarters, I will be happy with myself.

Spiritual – I think this is my weakest area and has been for the past few years. My only goal is to read the spiritual books on my list and to simply be open to what the universe has to show me. Since overlap is possible between the different areas of our lives, journaling will also be a part of my spiritual health this year.

So there it is, my yearly review and upcoming plans. I encourage everyone to create their own method to review the previous year and set some intentions for the upcoming year. You can use what I do, modifying it for what works for you or create your own entirely.

I also hate goal setting at the new year as resolutions don’t really work. I use my birthday time but you can pick any time you choose. The important thing is to review your own life and find out what works for you.

Please comment with your own method for reviewing your life and how you decide on goals for the next year.

Until next time,

Five Years and Counting…

Recently, the five year anniversary of this blog came and went. I meant to celebrate it but somehow things got a little crazy in my life. Which has become the norm I think. I want to believe that things will settle down but I’m not even sure what that means.

Back to the anniversary, it was 5 years ago on February 13th when I published my first blog post. I remember feeling sick to my stomach as I clicked on the publish button. I’d been taking a class on blogging and I thought I was ready.

In retrospect, I’m not sure I was.

I had big plans for my blog then. I was publishing about 3 times a week and doing well. I was even planning things out. But, as usual, life got in the way.

As I look back on the past five years, I can barely fathom how much things have changed in my life. Things that I took for granted. Things that I never expected to change.

I lost my brother just over three years ago. I’ve discovered how much this leaves a hole in a person’s life. Grief is a strange thing and I find that it hits me at weird times, sometimes unexpectedly and sometimes not. Several of my posts that year were about the feelings of grief and loss.

For nearly all of my professional life, I worked at one place. A place I truly believed in with a cause I still believe in. But in the months after I first pushed publish, the place I’d come to know as a second home things changed dramatically. I struggled to wade through the many changes that happened and continue to happen, all the while remembering what it had been like earlier in my career. I kept blogging even though sometimes that life crept into my writing.

Changes continued to happen until change itself became unbearable. I’ve hinted at my own healing journey and someday I will share that story with you. But in order to move forward, I had to leave some things behind.

Humble lessons.

I’ve learned many lessons over the last five years. At times I’ve done well with sharing my life with my readers, and at others, not so much. I’ve promised changes on my blog and sometimes even delivered them. And in a lot of ways, I’ve failed both my readers and myself.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to simply not give up. Even when things are quiet and my muse is in the background waiting for her invitation, this blog has been on my mind. I have so many thoughts and ideas that I want to share and would be helpful. But all of the turmoil in the past several years had made that difficult.

I’m not offering any promises for the next five years. I know that things can and will change on my blog and with my writing life. Some of these things I will share with you, I guess that is one promise I will give. Sharing the stories of my life in the hope that someone will find hope in their words.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

Until next time,