Sunday, February 22, 2015

The New Way to Set Goals Part 4 | Closing Loopholes

When I began goal tracking, I gave myself permission to change my goals if they weren't fitting my needs.  While a lot of goal setting data says you can change or update your goals weekly, with my monthly tracking sheet, I figured once a month would do.

Having achieved 100% success on my goal of kneeling to pray, I took it off the list.  It was time to focus on things that I was struggling with.

After reading some of Gretchen Rubin's work on loopholes (you know the moments when you say, "This doesn't count."), I began setting some rules around my goals.  So instead of the goal of "going to bed by 11:30."  I changed it to "be in the bedroom by 11:30."  If I need to grab something, take pills, etc. I'm allowed to leave the bedroom after bedtime as long as I don't sit down.  I can go and do, but I have to come right back.

Realistically, 11:30 isn't early enough, but just changing the goal has made it much easier to accomplish. While I "went to bed by 11:30" only 4 times in January, I've accomplished the goal of "be in the bedroom by 11:30" nine times so far in February by the evening of the 21st (yesterday)!

Setting rules around my goals has helped me reach my exercise goals as well.  Last fall when I met with my gynecologist, the issue of my weight came up.  "Look," she said, "if you really want to do this, you've got to commit to working out 5 hours a week. I don't care how you get that in, but 5 hours is the goal."

At the time I was, realistically, working out twice a week for 30 min.  A whopping one hour. I began by jumping in for 45 minutes 4 times a week.  It wasn't 5 hours yet, but it was a huge improvement.  Then my hip flared up (I do have rheumatoid arthritis, after all), after that I struggled with back problems, a new medication made me nauseated and gave me heartburn.  And unless I could work out for 45 minutes, I wouldn't even try to do it.  I'm betting you can see how quickly my exercise was back to zero.

I was talking with my sister (in hopes that she could me meet me at the gym and that obligation would get my rear in gear) when she mentioned something her husband recommended.

"Sometimes I really don't have time to work out, but Michael suggested that, on those days, maybe I could just walk around the block.  Sure, it's not much, but it's better than nothing."

While our schedules didn't really work for exercising together, I loved this rule.  When I don't have time for exercise, I can at least walk for 15 minutes.  Turns out in my very strange shaped neighborhood, it takes me about 15 minutes to walk around the "big block." When my day is crazy and I know I'm not making it to the gym, a 15 minute walk allows me to check the exercise box and feel a lot better about myself.  

As I looked at my goals, I've realized I have to embrace my personal commandment of "Be Jenna."  One of these realization is that I'm not a morning person.  I want to be a morning person.  I want to so badly! But I'm not.  In fact, I think better, write better, and even love to talk more at night.  My whole family had a few week obsession with the game Trivia Crack.  I found I could win games in a single sitting at 11:00 at night.  I think both clearly and quickly then.  In the morning, I'm groggy, fuzzy and sometimes silly.  Not only can I not play Trivia Crack in the morning, I can't remember what I need to get done. My morning planning in January, while well intentioned, was abysmal because I don't think well in the morning.  Period.  (I checked that box a whopping three times in January's 31 days.)

Now I've tried to change. Really, I have. I read an ebook all about switching from a night owl to an early bird. I listened to a podcast about the importance of mothers doing a lot in the morning. (You must get up before your kids!)  I even joined a challenge called, "Hello Mornings." The sum total of all that effort mostly made me feel like a failure.  I can want it, but I can't seem to make the shift.  I am not a morning person.  I need a little time to wake up slowly.  And if I want to write a successful plan for my day, it had better be at night.

So I completely gave up on "morning planning" and instead do "evening planning."  And you know what?  It fits so much better with my life! Not only have I done this one (also an important component of accountability partnering) nine times, but I sleep better when I do it.

I can't tell you how much I used to struggle falling asleep.  I would often lie down only to have everything that l needed to do the next day running on an endless loop in my head, ruining my rest.  Once I managed put it out of my mind and actually get to sleep, I would often awake around 3:00 in the morning with at start, almost like a panic attack, with my adrenaline pumping, worried if I could get it all done.  When that happened, it would take me up to two hours to get back to sleep again.  And, oh, waking up in the morning was so painful because of my pitiful night's sleep.

Now that my next day's plan is all worked out in my bedroom as part of my getting-ready-for-bed routine, that worry doesn't seem to creep in.  I set up my to-do lists in two columns, the left is what can reasonably get done in a day and the right holds other stuff I need to do, which I will do if I have time, but can postpone if I don't. It removes the stress.  I only put on the left what I can, actually do.  The rest isn't mandatory.  And if I remember something after-the-fact, while I'm falling asleep, I just turn on my lamp, jot it down on my list and I'm back to bed with nary a worry.  Seriously.  This has been a game changer.

In the vein of embracing, "Be Jenna," I also pushed back my get-up-in-the-morning time to 7:15.  And I'm still really struggling with this one.  I'm going to have to give my morning goal a lot of thought and figure out why it's not working, what my goal should be, or if I should even should even have one.

In January, with my goal of becoming a morning person (and my Hello Mornings challenge), my mornings were structured around movement (exercise), the word of God (scriptures) and morning planning.  But if I didn't get my scriptures read FIRST THING in the morning, I wouldn't even try to do it later.  So I did my own personal scripture study only 30% of the time, because it was contingent on doing it in the morning.  In the reworking of my goals for February, I gave myself the leeway to accomplish it any time.  I now had some 16 waking hours in which to read one chapter of scripture, or less if I felt very pressed.  Suddenly my success ratio on reading scriptures is dramatically higher.  It took me until Feb 9 to rework my goals and start tracking again, but since then, I've only missed personal scriptures twice and that's a streak I'm really proud of!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The New Way to Set Goals Part 3 | Accountability Partner

As January drew to a close and my goals seemed to sputtering (as goals often do come the end of January), I bumped into a post about Gretchen Rubin's new book on habits.  In this book she has a quiz that guides people to understanding about why they do (or don't) keep new habits. She asserts that people fall into one of four habit personality types: Obliger, Upholder, Questioner and Rebel. 

Turns out, I'm an Obliger.  I do everything that people are counting on me to do.  But I struggle with keeping habits where I'm only accountable to myself.  The best system for an obliger?  Create accountability.

Part of me understands this system well.  I learned a few years ago that I wouldn't get my house organized without outside help.  So I hired help, then I've had some friends who love organizing keep me going when things start to fall apart.  Almost two years ago, I hired a woman to help me clean my house.  I admit that I have a pretty modest budget, but I keep having her come, because she doesn't clean FOR me, she cleans WITH me.  My family knows that every Saturday for two hours we all have to clean.  Period. It keeps me going when I might otherwise throw in the towel.

But the day-in-day-out, stay-off-of-Facebook kinda stuff is hard.  And I've actually found that, with all of my children in school all day, it is actually HARDER, not easier to get stuff done.  It was a weird phenomenon and maybe something I have whined about a time or two.

You know how sometimes, when you're prepared, you get exactly what you need?  That's how I felt about a Facebook post by a friend (and writer) in which she mentioned her accountability partner.  And I felt little brain explosion.  This was a thing?  I'm not alone?  Other people struggle with not getting stuff done and there's a solution?  She introduced me to an adorable little book called, Done and Done: The Power of Accountability Partnering to Reach Your Goals.  I read this little gem in an afternoon and am currently on a quest for an accountability partner.

Realizing exactly how game changing, this could be, I've started with Wendell as my accountability partner and I'll make the segue to someone else as soon as I can get someone to bite. (This is actually working OK for now, but I think in the long run it would be beneficial NOT to have my spouse trying to help me be accountable.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The New Way to Set Goals Part 2 | Sputtering

My next January goals included: read scriptures, exercise, having a morning planning session, getting up at 7:00 am, which would, of course, be facilitated by the final goal of going to bed by 11:30 pm.

The results were mixed.  I had streaks of reading my scriptures everyday followed by streaks of not getting it done. I learned that it's really painful to get up at 7:00 especially on the days I was going to bed after 11:30.  For me, I need a minimum of 7.5 hours of sleep.  But I do much better on 8 hours.  Consistently depriving myself of needed sleep has been very ineffective.

Toward the end of the month, Wendell learned that he has Type 2 Diabetes.  It wasn't welcome news. But as Wendell's morning schedule changed to include consistent exercise, it threw my mornings for a loop and I was scrambling to get traction in my morning activities again.

Meanwhile, I was really struggling to check the going-to-bed box because I couldn't figure out what "counted."  Did I have to be asleep by 11:30?  What if I had prayers said, teeth brushed, contacts out and I was lying in bed?  What if I was just in the bedroom and Wendell and I were talking?  I honestly couldn't figure out when I could check the box and when I couldn't.  And Wendell and I often had different opinions about it.

"Oh, look!" I said one night as I put on my PJs.  "It's 11:25, I've made my goal!"

"You're not even in bed," Wendell countered.  "You still have contacts in, you have to brush your teeth...  This is totally not going to bed by 11:30.  It might be 11:45 before you're actually done."

By the 20th of January I wasn't tracking anything, which meant that except for my new habit of kneeling to pray, I was not accomplishing any of my goals.