So I write lists compulsively. It’s an obsession. I carry two small notebooks with me every day and have more at home. Here are some of the lists I keep:
At new year I write a list on my computer of my goals for the year.
I write a new list every evening of what I want to get done the next day.
I have a list of long-term goals.
I have a list of short-term goals.
I have lists of favourite movies.
I have a list of favourite songs.
I have a whole A4 notebook full of ideas for this blog.
I keep a list of all the books I’ve read this year.
I write lists of potential side-projects.
I have two shopping lists - one for food, one for not food.
I have a list of things I need to do at work every day.
I have list of movies/tv shows I want to watch
And that’s just what I can think of off of the top of my head. There are more.
It’s not something I have a lot of control over. I just do it. Because there are so many things I try and keep track of it’s my way of not having to store everything in my head. I think of something I need to do/buy/remember/write about, put it in a notebook, and then can forget about it until I need to refer to it later.
It is, at times, a somewhat complicated process, but it works for me. The only real downside is that I sometimes have so much going on that at times I’m not sure what to prioritise.
Then, I read this blog post which talks about planning 6 goals, 3 personal and 3 professional, and planning them out 90 days in advance. The beauty of the 90-day timeline is it isn’t so long that I can put them off until later, but also, it’s short enough that I can break the larger goals down into smaller steps and start chipping away at them day by day.
I started this new process two weeks ago. I picked three personal goals and laid them out over the next three months. I picked three professional goals too, but I’m not going to share them today.
The personal goals I chose came from one of my many lists. The list in question is “Things That Beat Anxiety”. I started writing this list about 2 months ago when I realised that my anxiety had been creeping back up on me. The list looks like this:
Things That Beat Anxiety
- Healthy diet
- Not drinking
- Reading more books (less tv and social media)
- Less coffee
- More time outside
- Less sugar
- Talking about anxiety
- Walking more
All I did was take the first three off of the list and made them my three personal 90-day goals.
I’ve been meditating (almost) every day this month already, so decided that I should stick with it and aim for meditating every day for the next 90. I have admittedly missed a few days, but I figure the plan you follow loosely is better than the plan you fail at sticking to religiously.
I love running and have used the Run5k app for years but have never finished it. It’s an eight-week course of three runs per week which I have been using for YEARS, and I’ve never finished it. It’s not that it got too hard – if anything it wasn't a big enough challenge and I didn’t have any goal at the end of it. I was going through the motions and after 3-4 weeks would lose sight of the end and give up, only to pick it up from the beginning a couple of months later. So now I’m using the run10k app from the same developer. It's a big enough challenge that I will have to push myself to complete it, and then this week I am going to sign up for a 10k race in September organised by two friends of mine.
The only snag with this is that I have abdominal surgery in a couple of weeks time, which will undoubtedly put me back in my training for a few weeks. But my goals for right now are to get as fit as possible going into surgery, so hopefully my recovery time will be minimal, and then the looming race will motivate me to get back up to and then exceed my current fitness levels as soon as possible.
The third goal is to eat more healthily. I’ve been gradually improving my diet for the last couple of years, but have found it easy to slip and have a week (or two) off from time to time. Having a plan of what I’m doing each day for the next 90 days helps me to stay on track. Plus, the simple act of keeping a list keeps it in the forefront of my subconscious. I’ve already noticed myself opting for fruit over sweets at the cafe by work, I’m eating better at home and doing weekly meal prep. Plus with the running being a big part of my schedule I’m eating better around my runs too.
The knock-on effect of these three goals also helps add to the other “anti-anxiety” things on the list. I’m drinking WAY less anyway because of the impending surgery, but also won't drink at all if I know I’m running then next morning. Same for coffee, usually I’ll make myself a coffee first thing when I wake up at 4:30 each morning, but won't do that if I'm going on a run. More time outside is a given as I’m fortunate enough to live next to Bushy Park and so go running there. Less sugar comes from the health eating. Talking about anxiety I’m doing plenty on this blog and with close friends and colleagues. And the benefit of running more means I’ve also found myself walking more too.
This is the first time I’ve ever made a 90-Day Goals list, and although I’m only a couple of weeks in I know I’ll be doing them over and over. Forcing myself to prioritise and have that clarity in what I want to achieve is a huge motivator. And I’m finding that although I’m meditating 2-3 hours per week and running at least 3-4 hours per week, I don’t find myself to be missing those hours. I’m sleeping better and thinking more clearly and am hungry to get more done. Plus the added benefits of feeling less anxiety are a win across the board as that opens up every other aspect of my life.