Goal setting with lupus: Pencil it in!

So we've made it through the first week of 2017!

Many people take the beginning of a new year to reflect on the past 12 months: what they've accomplished, what went well, and what didn't. Others look ahead - mapping out goals and making detailed outlines of what lies ahead, the possibilities, and the challenges. I do a little bit of both, but focus most of my energy on where I'm headed, rather than where I've been. It seems to work well for a life with lupus. Sometimes, last year's lupus sidesteps aren't all that pretty!

In looking forward, however, I tend not to plan too far in advance, because of those unforeseen sidesteps. Many of us don't know how we're going to make tomorrow happen, much less next month!

Today, my mind and body tell me that the 2017 goals I've set for my business - a new style of pillbag, increased wholesale accounts, and a logo tag redesign and launch - are achievable. But come mid-year, I might find that only one or none of those things are possible, given that my health and wellness have to come first. If my drive to accomplish compromises my ability to keep lupus in check, my plans have to change. I can't sacrifice my well-being for a few gold stars in my planner. In fact, considering the household projects we have on this year's docket, the daily management of the Gorman household, and the hope of adding a four-legged friend to our family, I'm already wondering if I've overdone it.

But I haven't. Because planning is possible with lupus. I just have to give myself the flexibility, time, and forgiveness to make them happen.

Thus, here are the three guidelines I keep in mind when planning: 

Stay Flexbile
Be Forgiving
Forge Ahead 

I kicked off last week's planning extravaganza using a combination of planning methods - starting with the handy planner you see above. (Thanks, ContextMedia!) It's a daily planner, laid out so that I can see a week at a time. The best part - each day has a spot for the top three things you want to accomplish that day. That's it. Just three. I am totally digging it! 

Having three and only three items helps me prioritize my to do list into a very, very manageable one. It's been interesting to see which items get the coveted three-spot from one day to the next. And because I'm using pencil, my lists are fluid. There's no reason I should be my own worst enemy. (RULE #1: Flexibility) 

Below the three spot section, there's an hour by hour section, where I list the rest of my to do list. I tend not to assign a task to a specific hour. If I did, I think I would miss every mark! But, like many of us, the working, productive part of my day is dictated by the hours my kids are in school. Thus, I have started pausing to consider which projects are best suited for that quiet time. As I jot down my list of things to do, I ask myself if this task is best done before the kids get home, or after. If before, then it gets listed earlier, or essentially higher, on the list. If it's something that the girls could help with, or doesn't need my full attention, then I list it later (or lower).

Writing my full list out this way has helped tremendously. I can only accomplish so much in the 3-4 hours I have before my nap starts and the kids come home. If I have a ton of things listed to do before my 1pm deadline, I can plainly see that I'm setting myself up to fail. Again, because I'm using pencil, I just erase, and/or move a few things to the next day to make today more manageable. And I feel no guilt doing it. (RULE #2: Forgiveness.)

I've also borrowed a few tips from the Bullet Journal, loosely adopting their bullet and task method to suit my needs. Specifically, I've found that their "Migration" strategy really works. The concept, at least as I've adapted it, is that as the day goes along, I mark any task not completed with a "migration" notation (in my case, a triangle or delta sign), indicating that it needs to be carried over and accomplished another day. This tells me that I still want to get to that task...it just needs to be on a different day. As mentioned above, because my work day essentially ends at 1pm, those little triangles give me a sense of hope.

Didn't get the blog post finished? No problem. Migrate it.
Didn't finish my end-of-year books? Don't stress.  Just move it over to the next day.

It's as though the pressure is off once I put the triangle down next to the task. It just rolls over. It's not failure. It's not a blight on my list. It's just...migrated.  I'm still going to get to it. I've still got a plan. I'm still making things happen. (RULE #3: Forge Ahead.)

What's more, I've discovered that not all unfinished tasks are even worthy of migration. Some drop off the list completely. Others morph into an even better idea, gaining traction as it goes. In fact, I'd say that my most successful projects have come from a task that wasn't crossed off the list the first time around.

"A good book isn't written, it's rewritten." Phyllis A. Whitney

Bottom line is this: I may be limited by what I can do because of lupus. But I say I've accomplished an unlimited amount because of lupus.

And so what if my plans are in pencil? Permanent ink isn't intended for life, anyway.


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