Ta-Da List

Since this past weekend, I’ve been working on goal-setting and breaking big dreams down into achievable targets and tasks. My overall goals fall into these general categories: improve as a writer, improve my health, enrich myself/experience the world, and give back. Under these categories I have various broad targets, and under those targets I get more and more specific until I have drilled down to tasks. For example, under improve as a writer one of my targets is read consistently, and I have laid out some tasks for myself to help me get to the point where I am reading more. My first task is “create prioritized list of books.”

A lot of my initial steps have been the creation of some sort of list. And I have set up a spreadsheet that has a list of all my current tasks, Getting Things Done-style. But one list I haven’t quite figured out yet is my Ta-Da List.

Alongside having targets to reach, I want to have a place where I can look back and see all the things I have accomplished. I feel like this would be a great motivator. In the individual project tabs on my spreadsheet I do leave finished tasks in with their completed dates, but over time this will become infeasible–I’ll need to delete them just so I can keep the spreadsheet manageable. So I’m thinking I will need some sort of area to round up achievements. A daily report might be too hard to maintain, but perhaps weekly or monthly. I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

For now, I thought I’d list out here all the tasks I’ve done since I started this effort on Saturday.

Project Management

  • Wrote out a list of all the goals I’d like to work on
  • Created a spreadsheet to manage the goals
    • Features a main tab listing current tasks for all projects and then a tab for each project
    • On project tabs, automatically strikes out tasks for which I enter a completed date
    • On task tab, automatically turns items due that day orange and overdue items red
    • Note: I’d like to automatically pull tasks and due dates into the task tab from the project tabs, but I haven’t figured out how to do that, or if it’s even possible
  • Came up with tasks for each goal
  • Set due dates for each task
  • Next step: figure out how to do a ta-da list

Create a Writing Routine or System

  • Brainstormed milestones/targets
  • Next step: set a plan or schedule to test out for each target, or perhaps a combination of them

Travel More

  • Created a list of desired travel locations
    • Included driving time for close locations and flight cost for farther locations
  • Next step: continue pricing out each location (lodging, transit, activities) and then prioritize

Meal Planning

  • Created lists of easy-to-pack proteins, fruits, vegetables, and starches
  • Purchased supplies for a test run for the last three days of this week
  • Next steps: create a list of example meals so shopping is easier; purchase a single-serving set of dishes and flatware to keep at work

Exercise

  • Made a list of aerobic exercise options
  • Next step: make a plan/checklist for weekly aerobic exercise
  • Also, I walked for two hours on Sunday :D

Read MorePhotography, ExplorePolitics, and Volunteer

I have set tasks but I haven’t done anything on these projects yet.

  • Next steps: create prioritized list of books; finish editing and uploading Hawaii pictures; make lists of local gardens, museums, restaurants, hiking locations, and festivals; make a list of all my various representatives in government; make a list of local volunteer opportunities

One-Offs

I also used my spreadsheet to keep track of a couple errands I’d been putting off.

  • Paid medical bills
  • Shipped some packages

This is looking pretty impressive, and it’s only been four days. If I continue to complete tasks at a decent rate, I probably won’t be able to sustain doing a post like this every week. Or if I do, I will have to reformat so I can just copy and paste from my tabs. But this is a start!

CHF Recovery: Day 48

  • Got up at 7:50

I think I could have slept longer, but I’m also not sure I slept well, because I remember my dream. (It involved me propositioning someone for sex o_o) Regardless, Sean was watching some sort of video and the sound woke me up, even though he was in the living room and I was down the hall in the bedroom with the door closed. Sound really seems to carry in our floor plan. Though I’m not sure there is a floor plan where it wouldn’t.

She asked if I was doing anything for Halloween and I said no, then launched into this whole explanation wherein I made myself out to be some sort of victim just because Sean doesn’t like holidays. Okay, fine. I wish he liked holidays. I also wish we had a kid and I could do holiday activities with them. But just because neither of those things happened doesn’t mean I can’t do holiday activities.

I mean, I know this. Sometimes I’m just like, but it’s a lot of work just for me, and no one will help me. Well, so what.

I keep coming back to one main point, which is: if I want something, I need to do it myself. And this is not an excuse to sit around being miserable, this is a reason to actually do things.

(I feel like this is part of my cycle, though? I get really depressed for awhile until I can’t stand it anymore and then I get all Determined to Make Changes and then I don’t actually do anything. Rinse and repeat. Should I start doing FlyLady again maybe? Have some sort of system for goals and things?)

I am really excited about this! I walked all the way to the end of the entire apartment complex, which is kind of three complexes in one, connected by two bridges over some…ravines that lead down to the river. (I’m sure there is a word for that.) So each branch is the size of a regular apartment complex, basically. I got to the end and while walking back I went down every single side branch and loop. Each main branch involves going down a hill and back up, and then some of the side branches also have hills. There is a fairly steep but short one down on the other end, and then there is an intense, long hill off our branch. I DID EVERYTHING.

I’ve been wondering how much distance the whole complex is, and now I know! Next time I want to do a 5k without having to guesstimate distance, I have an option besides going down to the river.

…okay I just looked at the map and realized I actually missed a loop, because I went alongside the apartment clubhouse instead of staying on the street. But the length of that loop isn’t much longer than the distance I actually walked, so it still works out about the same. ;P

That was great. The weather was gorgeous and I got several pictures of beautiful fall leaves. I’m glad I decided to try for a 5k today :)

  • Took a shower and got dressed
  • Made a lunch of cottage cheese, blackberries, half an orange that was left over from a HelloFresh recipe, and one ounce of mixed nuts (I hereby dub this lunch: Look How Healthy I Am. I Am a Paragon of Health)

Sean is at work, but not feeling well :/ He may need to go to the doctor.

While I was out on my walk I received an email confirming my return to work date. I’ll be back full time this Thursday. I’m a little nervous about how suddenly not having nine hours every weekday will affect my recovery efforts. One strategy might be to take my walk at lunch, but I’m iffy about it because I don’t want to sit around sweaty for three or four hours afterwards :/ Maybe I’ll try to do it in the morning, although that would mean I wouldn’t have much time for anything else then. Hmm. I may think about logistics more in a separate post.

  • Wrote a lengthy post about the logistics of work, exercise, cooking, and writing

Well, that was disheartening.

  • Went shopping
  • Came home and sank into a deep depression

Mood swings are fun.

Yesterday it was horrible mood to good mood. Today it was great mood to horrible mood. Just stop.

I am hitting that wall again of “if you want things to change, do it yourself,” and I feel overwhelmed by it, and it seems easier to just do it the way I’ve always done it even though that way is terrible and will burn me out and stress me to hell again.

I want somebody to just…come in here and figure it out for me.

  • Had a minor freakout (at least I could breathe during this one)

Sean had forgotten we had couples therapy today and so he was napping on the couch in his pajamas. I asked him if he wanted to cancel. He said it was up to me. My reaction to this was to think Everything is always up to me and to say aloud “I don’t know, I feel awful right now” or something to that effect. He asked what was wrong and I said it was the schedule possibilities I came up with and how little time that left for anything and how people say I should share chores but that means I have to figure out how and wouldn’t doing all that planning take just as much time as me just doing the chores myself? Then I said “I hate everything! I just hate everything!” and burst into tears and went to bed.

I am 38 years old.

Anyway, Sean came in and started getting dressed so I emerged from the covers and said “You want to go then?” and he said “Yeah.” So I got up and we went.

Due to Halloween traffic, the drive took an hour and a half, meaning we were a half hour late. Thankfully our therapist didn’t have anyone after us. I’m not sure how useful a session it was. Sean expressed that he is very tired. I expressed that I feel overwhelmed. No solutions were reached. We spent a long time discussing the election, as worry over that might be factoring into our feelings.

  • Went to couples therapy

Sean is sick and has been having trouble eating. We’re not sure if it’s allergies or an actual illness. But he was not hungry when we got out of therapy even though it was 7:30pm. I said we didn’t have to have dinner, and I was inwardly thinking that I would just skip the entire meal and go to bed. He said that he supposed we had food at home like sandwich makings, so he missed that meaning, which is fine. My disordered eating is yet another thing to worry about.

Anyway he said he didn’t know what to do. Hibachi would be too much. So I said we should go to the seafood restaurant and he could get something small like an appetizer. He realized he could do a bowl of soup, so we did that. This is good because I had not planned on cooking and I literally was thinking of going to bed without eating.

  • Went to dinner
  • Got me a mini Blizzard after dinner (I could only eat half)
  • Went home

I don’t really remember what I did at home. Got dressed for bed. Poked around online some. Felt awkward and weird and like I would say something wrong to anyone I spoke to.

  • Went to bed at 10:30

Weight goal: achieved! Sort of.

Me, July 20, 2012As of today I am at the weight at which I said I’d be content, 138 pounds. I look good. I feel great. At this point I could just say “mission accomplished” and go on with my life.

But there’s more to these life changes than meeting an arbitrary weight goal. The post-surgery weight loss period lasts up to two years, and I’m just now ten months in. There’s a whole year left in which I can work to sculpt away my remaining flab. And after that, it’s not like I’m going to go back to eating and living the way I did before. My food tastes have changed, and I am loving how energetic working out is making me. I’m looking forward to maintaining a healthy lifestyle forever.

I mentioned before that I wasn’t going to be paying as much attention to weight. And I haven’t been; I rarely weigh in. But I’ve decided that when I do, I want the various trackers I use to reflect my current reality. I’ve reached one goal. Now it’s time for a new one.

Today is my new “start date”. Based on my weight loss slowdown, I decided a pound a week was a reasonable rate. I put in 125 as my goal weight; two programs tell me I can reach that weight by the end of October.

I don’t know if I’ll actually get there–muscle weighs more than fat, and I expect to gain more muscle as I continue working out–but it’s nice to have a modified plan with a fresh goal line to start with.

Here’s how my SparkPeople goal line looked originally. As you can see, the deceleration of my weight loss caused my tracking line to approach the goal line (click to embiggen):

Weights from September 26, 2011 to July 23, 2012 with goal lineHere are my weights from April until now, showing the approach more dramatically:

Weights from April, 2011 to July 23, 2012 with goal lineAnd here is the beginning of my new goal line!

New weight loss goal and start of goal lineI’m pretty excited to start with a new plan and goal, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out in the next three months.

Motivation

I have been pretty lax in my weight loss efforts of late. I’ve been working out with my trainer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but otherwise I haven’t been doing much of anything, and I’ve been eating whatever I feel like eating. It shows, on the scale and in my clothes.

Shopping for jeans that would actually fit this morning gave me a good motivational idea. I could set up a schedule of when I can buy new clothes. Then, if that time arrives and I haven’t gone down a size, I won’t be allowed to buy any.

A tangible, specific goal like this–come down at least one size before the next shopping trip–would probably be better motivation than the generic “lose weight”. We all know how well that one works.

I just need to decide what a reasonable time frame would be.

Thoughtdump

Twitter is performing database maintenance. How am I supposed to regale you with snippets of useless information about my day?

Oh, that’s right, I have a blog.

I’m in that discontented mood that I seem to get a lot. Usually I need to make some sort of proactive life change, or at least come up with some plans to do so, in order to shake the mood. Unfortunately, one change I had wanted to make has been vetoed–I had hoped to set up a treadmill at my work station, but the higher-ups don’t like the idea. I don’t know if they thought I wanted to jog, and get all sweaty, or what. All I really wanted was to stay moving, at 1 mph or less, rather than sitting all day. I’m considering asking if I can just raise my desk so that I stand all day instead. We’ll see.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my poor blog, and how I keep neglecting it. I think I want to give myself writing assignments and stick to a posting schedule, at least for awhile. I also want to get better about reading more.

A big problem is that I don’t want to spend a lot of time sitting around–which of course is why I wanted a treadmill at work. So I am thinking about ways I can incorporate exercise into the typically stationary activities I do at home.

Sean’s been wanting to move our computers into the second bedroom (which is what I wanted from the beginning, but whatever ;>), so I’m thinking about what I could do in there. Maybe a treadmill desk; maybe a desk that can be used with my bike on its stand; maybe something that can do both.

These days, when I get home I don’t feel like doing anything productive. I’ll get online and read a few things or watch TV until bedtime. I think having a regular desk instead of using the coffee table would help. You have to kind of settle in to really work on a computer, and leaning over from the couch or sitting on the floor kind of precludes that. So hopefully the move to the second bedroom will help too.

A friend mentioned yesterday that someone he knows has lost weight by making small changes, like not sitting down when he watches TV. I have used the Free Step on the Wii Fit while watching TV before, so I think I’ll try to keep doing that. (Unfortunately it maxes out at 30 minutes, at which point I have to change input back to the Wii and turn it off or start it over.)

I’m hoping I can get to the point where some sort of activity is built into everything I do…and I’m hoping that that will give me the energy to do even more things. I’m always talking about being tired of being in a rut, but I never seem to actually try to get out of it. Part of it is a lack of motivation, part of it is not having the right tools, and part of it is just not being sure of what I want to do. I can at least solve that last problem by thinking about it, by going ahead and trying different things and seeing what sticks.

Another thing I really want to do is find and stick to a good calendar/project organization system. I want to be able to track what I’m doing and what I need to do, to pat myself on the back and keep myself on track. I want to accomplish things that take longer than a day.

Here’s hoping I can figure something out about all this.

Fear, procrastination, and disorganization

Last night, one of the people I’ve met through Twitter posted the following stream of angry tweets. (Read them in reverse order.)

I probably don’t have to tell you how much these hit home for me. I’m not the one she’s talking about, but I may as well be. How many years have I whined about wanting something more? About wishing I could lose weight? About how I can’t seem to follow through with anything?

Here is a person who seems to actually be able to do those things, frustrated as hell with someone like me who won’t get organized and do it. I can’t blame her for feeling that way. I’m frustrated with myself most of the time.

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Zzzzzz…

I’ve been pretty busy since getting home from Kentucky. Working full-time, regular daylight hours is a new experience for me, and I’m still adjusting. My past jobs have all been part time or shift work: at Wal-Mart (for the whole week and a half I worked there) I was doing a 2 to 11 pm shift; at Willis Music I worked different hours at varying points between 9 am and 6 pm; at GRW I worked 3 pm to midnight (due to going to school); and at the University of Kentucky night desk I worked either midnight to 4 am, 4 am to 8 am, or both. So yeah, I guess from that lineup I appear to be a night owl, and this new 8 am to 5 pm (soon to be 7 am to 4 pm) shift has me a little wonked. I’ve basically had to start going to bed at around 10 or 11 pm in order to get enough sleep, which precludes participating in many of the online chats I’ve come to love. I’m in bed before most of our AMRN people get online; either they’re out doing something else until the late evening, or they’re on the other side of the world, in which case they’re at work or just waking up when I’m going to bed.

This might be a good thing; sitting around chatting could be considered a waste of time, especially if I’m not accomplishing anything else in tandem. But I have always liked being available to my AMRN players and GMs, and it looks like that won’t be as possible anymore.

Regardless, this week hasn’t been extraordinarily restful. I got home on Monday night after 8 hours of driving, stayed up too late, and then got up early for work the next day. I’ve been trying to get more sleep since then, and it’s worked out all right, but I’ve had chores and errands to do after work that have made me feel as if I don’t have time to do anything. Normally I would catch up on the weekend, but I’m driving to Savannah on Saturday to see my aunt and cousin, so I have to get everything done before then, including get all the junk I brought home from Kentucky out of my car, and two loads of laundry. I guess those will be my chores for today after work, since I don’t have any other time to do them.

Yesterday I listened to a motivational CD by Earl Nightengale. It was fairly inspiring, but I’ve been left sort of befuddled. The main point was that people should pick goals and then work towards them in order to be successful. That has been a real problem for me in the past, and right now. What is my goal? I have a business idea, which I’ll not describe here lest someone steal it ;>, but I don’t know if that is my goal in life. Then again, I don’t know if the goals have to be permanent…I think maybe after you’ve accomplished one goal, you can come up with another one.

I guess my main problem with doing this sort of thing has been not wanting to give up on certain dreams in favor of other ones…and of course, fear of failure. Once I get past the first one and pick a goal, Nightengale suggests writing my goal down on a card and looking at it whenever I feel discouraged or fearful. I suppose that could work…so I just need to figure out what my goal is.

I was talking with AJ about it, and he suggested that I make a list of all my goals with two columns: REALLY WANT to do, and WOULD LIKE to do. Then, he said, I could prioritize the REALLY list in terms of feasibility. I don’t think Nightengale would approve of that second step; I’m supposed to believe that I can do anything. The first one, though, might be helpful.

I need to leave for work in about fifteen minutes, so I don’t want to start making my lists now. I’d like to give them some time and consideration. Sadly, I already know one of the things that’s going on my REALLY list: “be a mommy”.

My body shape has changed somewhat, so that my stomach seems to be sticking out more than it was before. This isn’t new; it’s been happening to me for months now. When I look at my profile, I tend to feel like I look pregnant. This has caused me to purchase pregnancy tests three times, “just to make sure”. Wednesday was one of those times, and seeing the negative result was depressing. Even though I know it’s impossible, I still have hope…and that hope invariably leads me to despair.

Working for Proactive Genetics doesn’t really help my emotional state. I do all the mailings for the company, and I’m in charge of the affiliate program, so it’s not like I can divorce myself from the idea of having children. It’s in my face on a daily basis. Every day, some lucky person with twins puts in an order for our zygosity test. I can’t even have one, but all these people have two. You can see how this would get disenheartening.

Still, I’m trying to stay positive. Maybe it’s possible. If it’s not, maybe I can adopt. Unfortunately, with all these maybes, it’s sort of hard to make goals! The only thing I know definitively is that Sean doesn’t want children right now. Sometimes I wonder if he ever will.

Maybe. :P