January Goal Review

At the beginning of each month, I will be reviewing my progress on my goals for 2018.  In order to keep myself accountable and to better work through strategies to stay on track or help me to improve in areas where I am struggling, I have decided to post a version of my goal review on this blog.  I will not be covering everything, as some of my goals were a little too personal to write about in public, but I think it might be useful for others to see how I do things.  I’ve found that reading about the progress of others and the strategies that they use to stay on track can be super helpful and I’m often able to glean a lot of good ideas.

1. Survive chemotherapy

I would say that all of my other goals are in service of this.  Overall, I think that I have been making satisfactory progress on my goals for 2018.  I have been very successful in some areas and I have been struggling in others, which is to be expected.

2. Write as much as possible

This is the area where I have been the most successful.  I have posted in my blog three times per week and most of my posts have been well thought out.  There have been a few posts that I would say aren’t my best work, but I’m mostly proud of what I’ve written so far.  I’ve also been mostly keeping up with writing one week ahead to ensure that I have posts ready to go for when I’m not feeling well.

Ideas for improvement: brainstorm more often for topics and inspiration to make it easier to get excited about what to write each week.  I may schedule a particular time or evening to spend an hour or so doing this once per week.

3. Develop a healthy nighttime routine

This has been one of the areas where I have struggled the most.  Going to bed at a regular time is always difficult for me when I’m not working and I typically stay up as late as I can and then skip my self care routine in favour of going directly to sleep.  I have some strategies in mind that I think will help with this.  I will try those for the month of February and, if I don’t see a significant improvement, I have another idea in mind that I will try in March.

Ideas for improvement: schedule a time each night when I will stop what I’m doing and start on my bedtime routine.  Use an alarm on my cell phone that will annoy me so that I will actually stop what I’m doing to prepare for bed.

4. Be financially responsible

As I discussed a few weeks ago, my spending was way out of control in December and the beginning of January.  In order to assist with getting back on track, I am doing a spending freeze.  The spending freeze is necessary now as my EI will be running out next week and my long-term disability won’t kick in for some time due to some administrative hassles.  The freeze has been fairly successful so far, but I have spent a bit too much on takeout.

5. Take care of myself physically

In some areas this has been going very well.  I’ve been drinking loads of water every day and I have been walking a little bit (I hope to work up to a minimum of 150 minutes of walking each week).  Where I am struggling is with personal hygiene.  This is mostly due to depression and not structuring my bedtime routine.  The last two weeks have been especially tough, as I had some personal issues come up that put me completely off track.

Ideas for improvement: see #3.  I think if I can get into a good bedtime routine, that will help immensely.  I see how things go next month and re-evaluate from there.

6. Take care of myself mentally

Overall, I have mostly been able to maintain a neutral outlook.   I went for my first counseling session at the BC Cancer Agency and I like the social worker that I’m working with.  The second half of January was difficult for me and I have slipped into some of my depression behaviours, such as neglecting my personal hygiene and not cleaning up after myself.

Ideas for improvement: I will schedule time at least once per week to work through my CBT workbook.  I also think that #3 will assist me in getting back on track with my journaling practice.

7. Learn something new

In January I didn’t make enough time to try out new things or start working on taking some courses that will help me along what I hope to be my new career path.  I did do some research on online learning services such as Skillshare and fortunately, a YouTube channel I like had a promotion with Skillshare and I was able to get three months of premium service for less than $2.00.

Ideas for improvement: I will schedule time at least once per week to take a webinar course on a topic that I think will be useful to my carer development.

8. Keep things tidier and work on de-cluttering

In January, I managed to tackle a few small de-cluttering projects and I am very happy with my progress in that area.  I hope that I will be able to complete a few small projects every month so that when I return to working full time, my spaces will be tidier and easier to keep clean.  I have also been moderately successful at keeping my spaces tidier on a day to day basis.  As I said earlier, I had a bit of a setback over the last two weeks in January, but I’ve still seen significant improvement.  I just want to keep this up!

9. Work outside the house at least once per week

I have done well with this, but I have been going not quite every week.  Some weeks I feel better than others and chemo side effects can make it a challenge to haul a bunch of my stuff around.  I haven’t been feeling too cooped up, though, so I am okay with how this has been going and don’t feel like I need to be doing anything differently.

I think that making better use of my planner could aid me in some areas where I’m not seeing as much success.  It can be difficult to schedule your time when you don’t feel well, but I think it will help me to be more productive and make better use of my time off.  I think I can also use my planner to help track my physical self care and try to motivate keeping up those habits with stickers and positive self-reinforcement.  As I said above, overall I’m pleased with my progress so far.  I’ve made some significant improvements and have good strategies in place to work on areas that aren’t going as well.

Are you making good progress on your goals for 2018?  Let me know what you’re doing to stay on track!

Goals for 2018: Part 2

Today I’ll be continuing my short series on my goals for 2018!  If you missed the first post, please read it here.

6. Care for myself mentally.

It’s no secret that I have issues with depression and anxiety and my current health crisis means that I will have to work at looking after my mental health this year.  I will have my bad days, but it is imperative that I keep up a positive (or at least neutral) attitude more consistently than usual.  I have several plans to assist me in accomplishing this.  First, I have been referred to the BC Cancer Agency’s counselling department, so I will be getting some professional help that is designed specifically to assist me in coping with cancer and treatment.  Second, some of the aspects of my journaling routine are focused upon positive thinking, affirmations, and gratitude.  Third, I have loads of video games to play, books to read, TV shows to watch and a forum to express how I feel about them.  I’m the most excited about that part!  Fourth, it is my hope that I will finally start working through the CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) workbook that I purchased earlier this year when I had my first panic attack.

7. Learn Something New

As I said in Goal #2 (Write as much as possible), it is my hope that I will be able to devote some small amount of time during time off examining how I can make career change to something that is more flexible and location neutral.  While I know that I can probably make some income with freelance writing, I would like to explore some other avenues that might be a bit more fruitful.  I plan to research and take some courses via educational websites such as Skillshare to see what kinds of skills will be necessary to obtain the kind of job that I want.  I’ve always been a fan of throwing myself up steep learning curves and I feel like now is a good time to start.

While I am enthusiastic about this goal I am, unfortunately, not certain how much I will be able to work on it.  My ability to take courses and learn things might be diminished by chemotherapy side effects.  I’m willing to give it a try, however, and I know that, from a practical perspective, it will be easier to do this when I am not working full time.

8. Create and maintain tidy spaces in my home that I can be happy spending a lot of time in.

I am an extraordinarily messy person.  Super organized and terribly messy.  While my messiness is consistent, it tends to get a lot worse when I’m depressed.  I would like to work toward making a significant change in this area in 2018.  While I am in treatment, I will not be returning to work, thus I will be at home most of the time.  If I’m going to spend most of my time in my office and my bedroom, I think it’s important that I try to keep them tidy so that I will enjoy my spaces and feel less stressed out and sad that they’re a mess.  I’m not exactly sure how I’ll be accomplishing this one, but I will start making some more specific plans and strategies over the next week or so.  I do already have some de-cluttering projects in mind.

9. Leave the house to work at least once per week.

This depends a bit on how I’m feeling, but I think it’s important for me to try and get out of the house at least a few times per week.  I can get a lot of work done in a few hours of crowd buzz and good music, so it’s worth it for me to get out and work in a coffee shop or somewhere similar.  I have a great little Chrome book that’s great for basic writing and web browsing on the go.  It’s my hope that I’ll be able to get out and work more than once per week, but I like to keep my goals as manageable and realistic as possible.

10.  Be supportive of and express gratitude to my partner and maintain a healthy and loving relationship.

A serious illness like cancer can have a significant impact on your romantic relationships.  Right now, my illness consumes a lot of my time and energy and it’s important to me that I don’t allow it to bleed too much into my relationship.  Of course, I will share my thoughts and feelings with him and I am counting on him to listen to me, be respectful, and provide love and moral support.  What I can’t do, however, is forget that he also needs love and moral support — I plan to do my best to make sure that his needs are being met and that everything isn’t about me being sick.

Have you set your goals yet for 2018?  Is there anything that you’re hoping to accomplish this year?  Leave a comment and let me know or message me privately — I’m interested to hear about what you’d like to get up to.  Let’s all have a better year than we did in 2017!

Goals for 2018: Part 1

It’s been a tough few days.  Chemotherapy side effects have been hitting me quite hard and I’ve had significant pain and discomfort.  I suppose it’s as good of a time as any, then, to start thinking about one of the main ways that I plan to take care of myself in 2018: by setting my goals for the year and developing mechanisms for tracking my progress.  I will be writing a post next week about what to expect from this blog in 2018 and a good bit of my content will be somehow related to my goals for the year.

I have 10 main goals for the year, many of which will divided into smaller, measurable tasks.  I will cover 5 goals today and 5 goals on Tuesday.

1. Make progress toward beating cancer.

I think it’s fairly obvious that this is my first priority in 2018.  I was tempted for my goal to simply be “Beat cancer” but I don’t like to set goals that are unrealistic.  Of course, it would be great if my six month course of chemotherapy was 100% guaranteed to cure my cancer, or at least force it into remission.  Given that the cancer has spread, however, I’m trying to be realistic about the fact that I may need further treatment down the road.  Given the side effects I’ve been experiencing recently, I feel like this could also be “Survive chemotherapy.”

2. Write as much as possible.

I am hoping that, within the next two years, I will be able to have a significant career change.  I have several reasons for this.  First, while I have a decent job that is moderately interesting, it isn’t the type of job that’s feasible to stay in for the long term (poor benefits, no pension plan, very high stress).  Second, I believe that the best career move for me at the moment is to transition into a job that is more flexible and, preferably, location neutral.  This means working from home.  I think this is the best for me due to my partner’s career being on a much better path than my own (it would be great to be able to pick up and move wherever he might need to go) and also because my cancer may reoccur or I may develop cancer in another part of my body.  A more flexible career would allow me to continue working during another period of illness.

During my time away from my day job, I plan to write as much as I can about a variety of topics and in numerous different formats, because I believe that writing is my best work from home skill.  I will also be working to develop new skills that I think will be useful to me in pursuing this path, but I’ll talk about that next week.

3. Develop a healthy and relaxing nighttime routine that will allow me to disconnect, focus and rest well.

I am terrible at going to bed for a whole host of reasons, but mostly I just dawdle a lot.  I scroll social media on my phone late at night when no one is posting anything, I watch YouTube videos that aren’t interesting, and I will often sit for 30 minutes just thinking about things.  I plan to shut my devices off earlier and journal every night to focus my thoughts and make sure that I don’t waste time that my body needs for rest.

4. Maintain my low credit card balance and manage my spending according to my reduced income.

2017 wasn’t a great year for me.  My dog died, I was diagnosed with cancer, and physically I just didn’t feel very well.  I also struggled a lot to accomplish the goals I had set for the year and I did a terrible job of managing my free time effectively.  The one aspect where I saw some significant improvement in 2017 is my finances.  I did a lot of research about managing personal finances, paying down debt and saving money.  Unfortunately, I didn’t end the year with much for savings, but I did end the year with way less debt.  I plan to maintain what I started last year and, if I am able to go back to work, start saving a substantial emergency fund.

5. Take care of myself physically.

Physical self care is an important priority for me this coming year — not only because I am in treatment for cancer, but also because I’m bad at it.  When things aren’t going well for me or I’m depressed, I often don’t take good physical care of myself.  I skip brushing my teeth, I don’t apply my psoriasis ointment, I don’t moisturize my skin (which I desperately need to do because I have such sensitive skin) and I stress/binge eat junk food.  I will need to manage all of this a lot better in order to keep myself positive and comfortable.  My doctor has also recommended that I get 150 minutes of physical activity per week, so I’m hoping to stay on track with that as much as I can, though I think it might be a bit of a challenge on the weeks when I am recovering from my treatments.

Stay tuned for Tuesday’s post, where I’ll be discussing the rest of my goals for 2018!  On Sunday I’ll be posting my new Media Round-up.  Watch out for it!