Dreams, Goals, Adaptations and Plan 15M

January 7, 2013

Picture 033I absolutely love making goals and creating plans.  It inspires me to dream and make positive changes to my life.  I can take time to reflect on what in my life is or isn’t working, and look at ways to move in the direction I want for my life.   

I find that making goals in life works best when it starts with listing out my own values.  This gives me a framework for deciding where to invest my time, and when it might be best to change a course.  Because my values are also about relationships, this helps me to include people in my goals, not just concrete goals around accomplishments.  I include values of self improvement and character traits I aspire to.  Though these may not be as measurable, my personal integrity is more important than the accomplishments I make.   

I have a list of seventeen top values that I have revamped over the years.  My overall mission statement is:  I will strive for growth, healing and deeper spirituality, where I can truly love others, giving joy, grace, and peace to those I meet.  Some of my values include building strong relationships with family, friends and neighbors.  Others are about personal traits such as saying I am sorry, being forgiving, having fun and living a life of integrity.  I also include fitness and health, making a difference, being financially secure and helping people in need.   

Next I start with a free write of goals and hopes of what I would like to accomplish.  This might be short term or long term ideas, as well as self improvement type of goals.  I try to avoid thinking too rationally when writing out my dreams, as this is something I will do later.  For some this might be better done by writing in paragraph form visualizing the life they wish to have, others prefer lists.  It can sometimes help to look around at people you admire, and what are the traits and actions that draw you to them.   

Once I have a list of goals and dreams, I begin to group them into categories and time lines for further evaluation.  I will group together health goals, relationship goals, spiritual, personal trait goals, finances, etc.   With each group I will think about what I can do in the next year to make progress in this area.  For relationship goals it might be scheduling dates with my husband, planning some vacations and/or having a game night.  For health goals it could be losing weight, going to a new doctor, trying a new exercise  and/or meditating self compassion.   

One thing to remember with goals is that it is about progress not perfection.  In 2012, I had a list of about 40 goals and I accomplished about 60% of them.  Some of these goals were minor, such as putting pictures in frames and going through donations.  Other goals were more significant like starting my blog and going back to yoga class.  I never did finish doing touch up painting around the house, but I am ok with putting this off another year.  I wish I had found the time to create goals with my children, as this is a worthwhile project.  Even though I didn’t finish everything on my list, I can see that the year 2012 was filled with some new adventures and progress in areas that matter to me.  The other goals I didn’t finish I can evaluate whether this is something I want to reconsider in the next year.  Fortunately, 2013 brings new opportunities.   

I am excited for what 2013 can bring and my personal goal of implementing the 15M plan.  For 2013 I am going to focus more on making life style changes in increments.  The 15M plan allows me to make progress even in the more difficult health days, as I focus on spending 15 minutes on the desired activity each day.  Often when I am tired or feeling a great deal of pain, I lay on the couch a good part of the day and isolate.  If I can focus first on 15 minutes of some type of exercise, it is a goal I should be able to attain most days, resulting in less discouragement and better health.  When I am feeling good, I will most likely do more, but on a bad day this can help me shift gears.   I will add other areas that I want to progress in such as writing, family time, cooking and doing chores.     

Life many of us I have goals for improving my health in 2013.  I plan to do some experiments with the types of food I eat to see if they may be adding to my symptoms.  I also will be doing health coaching for other people who want to improve their health.  I hope to be able to make an impact on people struggling with chronic health problems and to give hope.  I want to strive for more consistency in my life, and learn to work around the tough days.   

Making goals can be a simple process or something you spend weeks processing and planning.  The most important thing is to make some progress.  Taking 15 minutes to write down 10 goals is a great beginning.  For the artist among us, one can draw or clip out pictures from a magazine instead.  You can post the list on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.  Others may prefer to spend some time evaluating last year, writing out values, and creating a detailed plan for 2013 like I have done.  Finding a buddy to share it with might help keep you motivated and encourage a friend at the same time. 

May 2013 bring you some great learning experiences and opportunities.  May you see an impact towards the values you hold dear and be an encouragement to those in your path.   

Elissa

 (also posted at fibromodem.wordpress.com/2012/12/ and in December issue of LIVING WELL with FIBROMYALGIA)

 

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pause, one step forward, pause, and a little sideways, one step forward….

December 6, 2012

I am beginning to appreciate the phrase “two steps forward, one step back”.  For me it would be more accurate to say “pause, one step forward, a pause, a little sideways, then start over again”.

The first pause is my time of pondering the vision. I love being in a dream mode and the times of reflection are really valuable.  I often start out thinking and planning what I am going to do.  This can be really productive to think about what steps I want to make, and decide whether previous actions were necessary.  Often I find the passion in this stage, that helps me take the next step forward.

Taking one step forward is crucial for progress.  I need to just do something on my action list to move in the right direction.  Though my favorite place is the vision state and planning, when I move forward, I have more opportunity to plan greater dreams.  As I take the time to write regularly, I can envision myself as an author someday, and my blogging will aide me in this direction.  When I take a step towards my health by beginning new exercises, I can see why I have made such a choice and the results exercise has on my body.  Every step forward leads me closer to being more of who I want to be and what I dream of.

What is with the second pause?  For some reason I am finding that in the middle of my progression towards my goals, there seems to be many pauses that slow me down.  Some times this is circumstances such as illness and/or a crisis.  Other times I am feeling overwhelmed or lose sight of where I am going that I can’t seem to gain ground or get moving.

The sideways’ journeys always seem to happen for me.  I get distracted by other things, or become so focused on one aspect of my goal that I lose sight of the big picture.  I start thinking about new dreams and ideas, get lost in the lives of others, or just move without thinking.  Though it feels like this is taking me away from what I want, often the lessons here can lead me more to who I want to be.  It may seem slower, but if I am going sideways there is a reason for it.  The wisdom gained here may be exactly what I needed to better prepare me for my next step.  I also gain new relationships from the people nearby.

As I continue in my inconsistent cycles, insights are gained, relationships are developed and goals become fulfilled.  At times I wish it was a more linear path for me, yet I imagine this would feel too predictable and boring.  As I learn to accept my personal detours, I will be much happier, and incorporate all my cycles into creating a deeper and more meaningful life.  Perhaps in time the detours will become less, as my vision is more clarified.  However, in the mean time I will continue to absorb all of my reality in this journey of life.


New food plan experiment

October 26, 2012

Next week, I am planning on trying a vegetarian and gluten free plan to see if it affects my symptoms in any way.  I have heard various people share of miraculous recoveries because of a particular diet plan, yet have been skeptical.  Even though I don’t expect drastic results, I believe I will feel better if I make some improvements in my food choices.   Anything that has the potential of helping me, especially with little cost, is worth trying.  I have most of my food ready to go!

I have been continuing with the 15M plan most days.  I have been able to do some form of exercise each day for at least 15 minutes.  Most days I do more than this.  On the days that I have really struggled, I utilize Netflix to watch something of interest.  I do best being consistent when I schedule something with a friend, other days I have to result to more procrastination tactics on my part.

I am also trying to make my top 5-8 items I need to accomplish each day.  I find it is really important for me to feel a sense of progress, especially when life feels more routine.  The check-off sheets remind me that I am doing well, making progress, even if I can’t do everything.


Hoping for a flexible career while living with chronic pain

July 19, 2012

Still hoping for a career in spite of living with chronic pain and fibromyalgia

Some days it can be difficult to reflect on the career losses of living with chronic pain.  I look around at friends and family members with dreams of accomplishment and the ability to carry it out. As a young child I dreamed of being a psychologist and a writer.  I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people who were suffering.  As I grew older my dreams became more sophisticated and branched out to potential paths yet the heart of it remained.  I love counseling and coaching people and enjoy the healing power of writing.  Friends have commented regularly on my insights into living and wisdom to sort through complicated situations whether in writing or in regular conversations.  I also love doing research, strategizing and developing systems that can aid a group of people. 

When looking ahead, I still see many barriers.  I read through Craigslist and am drawn to many career opportunities in social work, strategic planning, the legal field, research, writing and social media.  When I read through the details it can be difficult to imagine myself in a structured job that doesn’t allow flexibility for my bad days.  Add in commute and preparation time and my energy level can be drastically reduced.  During my work days I found I could work roughly 15 hours a week, but it still made life outside of work challenging.  When most of my energy went into work, it left a lot less for my family and responsibilities at home. 

I still have hope that a new career path will open up for me.  Writing and consulting can have the flexibility I need, yet allow me to contribute to others.  Perhaps there could be a way for me to return to school for a masters or doctors degree in counseling.  This is also a job I could do part time, though internships could be challenging.  My experience with chronic pain in both these categories would be helpful.  As much as I enjoy my current life, I miss the value, the people, the stimulation and the growth that comes from having a career.   I will continue to make the most of my daily life in spite of my pain, yet keep the dream alive for something more. 


Goals Rearranged: Reflections on 2011 Goals

January 24, 2012

January is a month of new beginnings and reflections.  I began the year looking over my value list of what matters most to me.  This led me into reviewing the goals I made in the past, and adding or taking away goals I have completed or no longer seemed relevant.  Having a chronic illness can be challenging, but it will never take away my desire to dream.  Two areas that stood out to me were my occupational goals and exercise goals.  These were two areas that I wanted to change in, yet it wasn’t exactly how I planned.  What could have looked like failures, in reality were fulfilling my goals, just in a different way.   Living with a chronic illness requires a lot of adaptations.  Learning to recognize the real value in situations and the having a positive outlook, keeps me moving forward even if the path is down a new road. 

When I made my goals for the year 2011, it included many occupational goals.  Having worked at my job as a vocational consultant for only 6 months, I was looking forward to learning more about the field, becoming more savvy in social media, and building relationships.  Unfortunately shortly after my goals were made, my job position and hours were reduced significantly.  Since the explanation for the changes didn’t make sense to me, I was being treated differently than other people, and the standards of procedures were ignored, I began researching about discrimination in the workplace.  I later wrote about some of what I learned on my blog.  What I thought would have been a big part of my growth in 2011, became something else entirely.  I saw a different side to disclosure in the workplace, and how sometimes this can create more tension and mistakes rather than build a better support network.  I also became stronger, having to face my own vulnerability, and make decisions on what it is I want to stand behind, or when and where to be silent.  I had to adapt to the reality that I am no longer a career woman (I quit my job 6 months later, when things continued to decline) and how this effected by identity.  However, I do see that my initial goals were still met.  I did become more savvy in social media, and created several websites, one for my soccer teams I co-coach and another on chronic pain.  I also learned a great deal through my experience, and was able to see both the positive and challenges of working with a disability.  The clients that I met through my job, have changed me to the core.  I have seen persistence, hope and joy through my clients, and how the right support can make all the difference. 

My world of exercise and health were also quite diverse in 2011.  When I went back to work, my standard exercise routine was rather sketchy.  I went to yoga periodically and occasionally lifted weights.  At the beginning of the year, I teamed up with a couple of girl friends, and trained to walk a ½ marathon.  I found that walking wasn’t as difficult on my body, and the gab time was good for my mental health.  I also tried filling in on two team sports – basketball and soccer.  The basketball team experience was rather disappointing, as I wasn’t aware of positions and where to be, and the team captain wasn’t too happy with a newbie who was short.  Soccer however, was so much fun and quite the workout.  The team was supportive, and I at least knew the game better from years of coaching my daughters.  The most difficult part was driving to the game that was located on the other side of town.   No one knew how much it meant for me to have this experience of being part of a team, if only for a couple of games.  Having never played as a kid, it was something I always regretted.  I realized as an adult, this is one dream I could recreate.  Even with my health challenges, I accomplished something big, by taking the risk to be the new kid at a new sport.   During the year, I also kept active by helping coach in soccer.  My husband and I coach together and often would play and workout right along with our kids.  When I couldn’t find the time or energy to exercise on my own, participating in four soccer practices a week really helped keep me somewhat fit. 

As I prepare to review and write about my goals for 2012, I will keep in mind the importance of flexibility in my goals.  Life isn’t always simple, and there will be lots of detours.  As I continue to see the progress I make, it will give me the strength and courage to continue striving towards my dreams.  Perhaps along the way, as I reflect on my values, I will realize the dream I had, is exactly the place I am standing. 


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