Saturday, December 27, 2014

Loud Lady :: 6 Mentally Healthy Practices for Achieving Your Goals (A Guest Post by Christen of Christen Louise)

I have always been good at making goals, but not at following through; I tend to lose focus and will pretty quickly. The past two years I have failed quite miserably with my goals, for a few different reasons, so I'm going to share those reasons with you and some tips on avoiding them, should you find yourself facing some similar things. I'm putting these things into practice for my 2015 goals in hopes I can actually carry something out! I hope something in here can help you!

1. If you're depressed or going through a rough time, be gentle on yourself. The past two years I've been in hard places when the new year came around. For 2013 I was living back at home with my family and in the final stages of my divorce. When 2014 rolled around, I was living alone (1500 miles away from home!) and I was financially strapped, barely able to afford to eat, and just feeling really lost because of my situation. For each January 1st, I was severely depressed. I mistakenly believed that if I set all these goals for myself I would have something to focus on and it would help with the depression. Instead, I lacked the energy and will to do them and ended up feeling like a failure. I would stare at my list, know I wasn't working on it, and just feel useless and like there was no point because I was behind. So if 2015 is coming during a rough patch, be gentle and set some smaller goals. Also, continue reading, because the next ones may help!

2. Consider how much free time you actually have. One of my goals last year was to start my art journaling again (and I secretly was hoping for daily!). It is something my psychiatrist in Georgia had gotten me doing and I had really enjoyed it then. I was living alone, working 40 hours a week, so surely I had the time. I didn't take anything else into account, though. I didn't think about the daily housework I did, I didn't think about the lengthy trips to either the laundromat or my boyfriend's apartment to do laundry. I didn't take into account how much time I spent with my dog every night, and I didn't consider our one hour walks we used to take at night. And Friday nights, Saturdays, and Sundays were often spent with my boyfriend. I probably still had the time, but I didn't think about those things when I set my goals, and I was also so depressed and had little will to even do the essential things. So think about how much time your goal is going to cost you and analyze whether or not it's realistic. You can always add to your goal later in the year if you find you have more time!

3. Think about how often you stick with things. I have a tendency to do something consistently for a week or two, and then never again. I've tried a few 365 Projects (where you do a certain thing every day for a year), and none of them went so well. I think I stuck with a self-portrait-a-day off and on for about six months once (that was definitely a record!), but then I completely gave it up. I was disappointed by my inability to keep up with it every single day, and thus lost interest. In addition, the photos rarely made it off my mobile phone and onto my computer for anything documentable. A lot of my self-portraits ended up being taken while I was in my car at the end of the driveway. I'm not saying you should stay away from these goals, but think about this beforehand so you can plan better. It may be a good idea to draft out a typical daily schedule for yourself and see where your extra time is to insert these activities. Maybe schedule them out for the first month or two until they become habit for you.

4. Some goals have special requirements. Think about what will be involved. This goes together with two and three quite a bit. To reference my goals for 2014 again, art journaling and self-portrait photography (no mobile phone allowed) have their requirements. They can be very time consuming. There's painting, waiting on it to dry, magazine clipping, photo printing, drawing, coloring, etc. And with the photography, you have to consider lighting, a location, and the adjustments you'll have to make to your settings. This is going to take research and, guess what, even more time. What about supplies and equipment? What kind of art supplies are you going to need? Do you have a camera tripod? Do you have a camera remote? Think about what you're going to need, and get it beforehand! January 1st is not the day to go get what you need, I'd really suggest getting yourself set up completely about a week before New Years. There's nothing worse than January 1st rolling around and oops, you never got the journal for your art journaling...what now?

5. Be specific about your goals. A lot of people say they want to lose weight, be healthier, spend more time with their kids, etc. Those are good goals, but they're really general. How much weight do you want to lose? In what ways do you want to be healthier? What things do you want to do with your children to spend more time with them? Take some time to plan instead of making the decision hastily, because that will just result in frustration from a lack of proper planning and you'll be much more likely to abandon your goal. I kept weight loss a secret goal (see number six about that!) the past few years, and I finally realised I needed to know how much weight I wanted to lose. How much was that per week? Did I need to cut out parts of my diet, or did I just need to exercise? I actually planned on this one, and was beginning to succeed when I got pregnant. Then I gave up because the baby is more important (plus, I can't imagine dieting and being pregnant!). Life also got really complicated and I just couldn't keep up with anything.

6. Share your goals with someone who will keep you accountable. I know you've all heard this one, but it really does help! It's nice to tell others too, like posting it on your blog, or on Facebook, but make sure you have at least one person who is going to hold you to it and who will actually show interest in it. Don't just share the goals themselves with that person, but share your plans as well. They may have some ideas or suggestions you didn't consider, or may be able to help you tweak your goals a little to be more realistic or fit your patterns better. Many of us have behaviors that our friends and family see that we don't, so share and be open! I didn't do this last year, though my boyfriend would have certainly encouraged me, and I think it would have helped a lot. I'm so happy to have him this year (as my husband now!) to help me with my goals.

I really hope you feel inspired and capable and that you'll find some gems there that will help you make 2015 your best year yet for following through with your goals! As we enter into 2015, my situation is very different than it's ever been, and I'm looking forward to learning from past years' mistakes and actually accomplishing something. Soon, I'll be sharing my hopes for 2015 on my blog and how I'm going to make them happen.

Thanks everyone for reading and have a wonderful new year!

Christen is a twenty-six year old living in Colorado. She is transitioning from the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom and beginning an internship as a graphic artist. She enjoys looking at her husband starry-eyed, making faces at her three-year-old, and trying to be more annoying than the dog -- in addition to photography, writing, cooking and creating in general. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.
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