A Change in Plans

By: Mary Pat Baldauf 

It’s ironic that my last post was Putting My Aneurysm Behind Me. While I am ready to put it all behind me, there’s no getting around the fact that I have some deficits, such as a shorter attention span and a tendency to get overwhelmed. And whether temporary or not, I need to address them.

In rehab at Pathways, we had a session on goal setting. When we did sessions on calendaring, goals and such, I probably “checked out” a little. Those sessions, I rationalized, were for the folks who had “more deficits” than me. I’d never needed those things before, so I why I would need them now?

SMART GoalsOur session on goals focused on SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

I recently pulled up a book I’d purchased before the rupture: The Power of Less: The Fine Art to Limiting Yourself to the Essentials…In Business and In Life. The author is Leo Babauta, whose blog, Zen Habits, I discovered years ago.

I skimmed the book and put many of Babauta’s suggestions to work as I journaled on the computer. I listed all of the projects I want to complete. That in itself was a relief of sorts. Projects are different than a “to do” list in that they’re things that take more than a couple of hours to complete. Washing my bedding is a “to do;” getting my bedroom organized is a project. (And then some, LOL!)

Since coming home a year ago, my room has suffered quite a bit. So getting my bedroom organized was one of the three goals that I decided to focus on. I pulled out the SMART goals list and got to work.

SPECIFIC: I want to organize and de-clutter my bedroom.

MEASUREABLE/ACHIEVABLE/REALISTIC: I broke the project into smaller goals: the many facets of my bedroom that needed work, i.e. my closet, the stack of clothes at the end of my bed, the shelving unit under the window and more. From those goals, I picked a weekly goal. This week, it will be stack at the end of my bed. I will then designate a daily goal to help me accomplish the weekly goal.

TIMELY: I gave myself a deadline. I want to have my bedroom organized by September 24, my 50th birthday.

A funny thing happened. Once I laid out my goals, I found a new surge of energy. I felt less overwhelmed. I tackled the stack and made a huge dent in it, just in one day.

“Duh,” you might be saying. It’s not rocket science. I know that, and yet it’s like a brand new concept. I used to be able to do all of this without having to set goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces. But now, I need a little more structure. (Gasp! he pre-rupture me HATED anything that resembled structure. It stifled me. It definitely didn’t give me energy or help me be more productive.) In this way, it’s easy to see how the post-rupture me is a new and improved version of the “old me.” Mary Pat 2.0 may be a little more structured, a little different than before, but that is okay.

I need to end this post with an apology to my rehab therapists. A year later, it is crystal clear why I (yes, I) needed those sessions. I didn’t understand then, but now I do. While my recovery was miraculous, I didn’t get out unscathed. I’m more easily overwhelmed now, and the things I used to do without a second thought do require some thought now. My attention span is also a little shorter. Deficits aren’t a bad thing to have; in fact, when I’m able to see them, I’m able to address them.

Happy Planning!

Are you a planner and/or goal setter? If so, what has worked well for you? Do you have a favorite planner and/or system? Do you think you can be a planner and still be spontaneous?

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