I have been really busy with my business lately. Almost all of my time has been spent doing web design. I have paying clients and a ton of new design work on my plate. Almost half involves me learning how to do new stuff, which is exciting. But at the same time, I found myself stressed beyond all reason with the enormity of it all. I also had this nagging feeling that I was falling hopelessly behind in everything else.
And if that was not enough, I also kept beating myself up for being stressed out. Geez, maybe I would not be so stressed, if I wasn’t also stressing about how stressed out I felt.
My next few blog entries will explore my process for getting through this difficult period.
This first one follows weeks of waking up to a mental list of everything on my plate. Sometimes I woke up with a new algorithm or a new code fragment, but after a while the message was often just “… gotta go, gotta go, now, now, now ….” And throughout this entire period, I felt this deep regret at not living up to some past level of true efficiency.
... from my journal ...
Woke up thinking about coding again or at least that is what intruded immediately to my waking mind. But I somehow knew that I had not been dreaming of code, so I settled back to sleep after my bathroom
run intentional walk. And slowly an image began to emerge.
I saw myself being pulled along by a dog on a leash. A dog hunh? I am being pulled along by a dog? Instantly, I heard my father’s voice, “Never let a dog drag you!” So I pulled hard on the leash. Instantly I was awake again … then I slowly began drifting off.
This time the image was of a car, an old car, an old ivory colored car but it looked brand new. It was long, spotless and gleaming. It even had fins and fancy grillwork. But something was not right about this car. The proportions seemed off. It did not seem to have room for the wheels or they were completely hidden.
The image is distorted. How would you change a flat tire for instance? It is like nostalgia, what parts that are remembered are off in many ways. Hmmm …
The nostalgic car is impractical and impossible to maintain. So whatever I am imagining of my old ways of handling things is not only distorted it is non-sustainable.
After my chiro visit, I sat with my journal in my favorite haunt and pondered the meaning of my morning images.
I remembered hearing myself arguing with myself the day before…
“Ivo has a business along with all his teaching and counseling.”
“But I am not Ivo. He is healthy and still he works really hard at keeping up with it all. Plus his store has staff and a kick ass manager. And he lives with all these incredibly talented and dedicated people who are also pulling long hours”
“I like having real deadlines to work toward.”
“But not if it means nothing moves forward for me personally. And the reasons these deadlines are real are because it involves someone other than you. What does that say about your commitment to achieving your own personal goals, aspirations and dreams?”
Later that same day, my healer elder said that I needed to listen to my water self during this fiery period. Which is interesting because in my system of elemental classification, my water self is also my child. So in effect she was once again calling attention to my child self.
I decided to listen to what all the parts were saying:
“You gotta work hard and keep commitments to get ahead in this world. All this lollygagging is getting you nowhere. Get busy, time is money.”
“I am tired of all this work. I need more down time, more rest. Even my playtime is filled with, ‘Do this! Do that!’ I can never have time just for me.”
“ I am out of balance. Yes, there is a lot on my plate but the way we handle this is by getting enough down time, rest, good food, and by focusing on home and hearth. And of course taking care of my physical self. This is not the time to walk away from Radical Self Care.”
So I decided to take an afternoon nap. I also spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching some of my favorite TV shows. I think I also made myself a chocolate sundae.
Next time, the morning after…
Submitted by katrina on Sun, 07/20/2008 - 12:41pm.
So now I have a list of goals for the year. This list seems fairly long and involved when I look at them all together. But that simply means that they are ready for the next step in my process.
And the next step is to do some preplanning. Not everything has to be done at once and to think of it that way will help me not feel overwhelmed by just looking at the list. As I look them over, I see that several of my goals can be scheduled, for example getting new glasses in March. Some require a build up or a plan like walking three times a week or building my cash reserves. Others require a full project plan like several of my home projects and almost all of my business projects. Some things I need to plan when I start them, others when they are due and still others require both – a start and a due date. And several of my ongoing goals are already linked to the calendar in some way.
And I need to enter all of these goals into my current system for tracking projects and tasks till completion. I use a variant of Getting Things Done (GTD) for tracking my projects and next actions. My tool for GTD is an application created by the Omni Group called OmniFocus. (To learn more about GTD, check out the Merlin Mann’s brilliant series on 43 Folders.)
I could have just as easily simply added this list to my current list of projects and created a project list for each goal listing all the steps required. And by then identifying the next action needed for each, I could include these actions within their respective context list. But since I am a total geek, I capture most of this on my Mac in OmniFocus.
I do however print out an index card listing my mission and long-term goals. I also do most of my project brainstorming by hand on scratch paper (backs of old code samples and reports). And I do create physical project folders for my larger projects, especially those related to my business.
Whichever way I approach this process, I will definitely need to break each goal down into a series of actionable tasks. Without actionable tasks, how exactly would I go about adjusting my glucose levels for example? So as I enter my list into OmniFcous, I try and identify the steps needed to accomplish each goal. I may not have all the information I need to fully plan each goal, but I can at least list what I think are the next few steps.
For example, as I sat scratching my head about marketing goals, I suddenly realized that I was no longer sure what a marketing goal was anymore. So I listed reading up on marketing plans and reviewing sample marketing goals as the first few steps.
In the process of moving these goals into my system, I noticed that some of the goals needed to be broken up into succinct parts and others needed wording that more accurately described their end state. In this way, my goals are becoming more refined and also more accessible.
After adding some timeframes, I select the set I want to work on during the first quarter. Since I am already a week into February, I need to be careful that I have not overloaded this quarter. This is especially important because as a quick look at my calendar will confirm, I have a really full schedule these next few months.
So I temper my expectations within the reality of my life circumstances. What makes this step less painful for me is that I am already doing so many things that reflect my mission and purpose. In earlier times, it was a struggle to find space for my goals and priorities within so much mind numbing, soul draining and heart breaking work. I carried my artistic goals around in my emotional inner pocket to protect it form the constant pain, illness and grief within my life. Now I can let my artist self out to play within a life filled with soul enriching work and meaningful connections.
Knowing that whatever goals you set have to be nurtured within the soil of your lived life was such a revelation to me. So my goals need to not only stretch me, it has to fit me and somehow fit within my current life somehow. Setting goals that call for a complete change in my life in order to accomplish them is not helpful for me. However setting goals that when they are completed, will change my life is another matter altogether. The latter respects the ground where I currently stand, and allows me to be changed by the process. The former demands that I change first. I seldom am successful with goals that require me to change before I can accomplish them.
An example of this are my goals associated with improving my health indicators. With the exception of the walking goal, all are indications that can be tested objectively. I have loads of ways to reach these goals. But notice that they do not say, “Switch to a vegetarian diet”, or “Cut out processed sugar”, although one could argue that doing these things would certainly help. I have found over the years however, that goals like these do not work for me personally. Last year for example, when it looked like I might be diabetic, I did not go on a diet. I simply began tracking my food intake by food groups. The result was that I lowered my blood sugar and lost weight. My goal was a normal glucose result, and I was successful.
Another way of saying this is I tend to focus on the “What” not the “How” when I write goals for the most part. And as soon as I say this, you will notice that I do include a “How” goal of walking three times a week for 30 minutes. So it is not a hard and fast rule, but I know some things are far more likely to happen if I word it a certain way that reflects my unique perspective and lived experience.
And so over the next few weeks, I will discuss my process and plans for the next few months as I begin working toward my annual goals.
Submitted by katrina on Tue, 02/05/2008 - 12:30pm.
This is the third part of my series on Productivity. To start at the beginning, you can begin here.
So after reviewing and updating my mission, my next step was my long-term goals.
I have a file that includes my long-term goals going back at least two decades. Why? Because it helps me to see how my goals have morphed and changed over the years. It helped me to realize what has withstood the test of time and what was just a momentary glitch. Now I have a better feel for what is my goal and what is my response to someone else’s agenda.
LONG TERM GOALS
• My life has room for my chosen family
• Financial independence
• Innovative and successful software solutions business
• Beautiful, welcoming and nurturing home
• Pagan monastery and temple
• Spiritual, sustainable and healthy lifestyle
• Share my writings, music, art and message with a wider audience
Over the next week or so, I am going to write more about each of these goals and share my annual goals under each of them. My plan is to publicly commit to these annual goals and to review my progress toward completing them throughout the year. We will see what actually happens. One thing I already know is that I need to work on the wording for my long-term goals. Since I usually review them every quarter, I may just wait till the next review to modify them. We will see how that works out.
I am a little nervous about exposing my inner working and my fear about being judged negatively by others is raising its head as well. But I think that this process can be helpful for me even if no one else finds it interesting or helpful. Although admittedly, I do hope others will not only join my journey but also participate in the ongoing discussion. And of course, I definitely welcome suggestions and advice all along the way.
And so I welcome all of you to join me, because … now begins our journey.
Submitted by katrina on Mon, 01/21/2008 - 6:59pm.