September Update

Half-way through September and so another update.  I did a lot of thinking at the end of August about the future so some changes!

Health matters: Know your superpowers and focus on feeling good

This replaces the previous goal to manage my health.  There are two main themes: knowing the weapons I have to fight the battle against my chronic illnesses, and doing what makes me look and feel good.

In many respects, this is a simplification of everything which was in the previous goal.  I’m still doing many of the things, just thinking about it in a different way.

Firstly, I am acknowledging that my illness needs managing.  I’ve brought myself off the medication which means I have to find other ways to manage the pain, the energy issues and the emotional swings I have without the medication.  I’m investing in massage therapy, reintroducing proper ‘rest’ time and looking at mindfulness and meditation as a way to balance my emotional landscape.

Secondly, I am focused on good weight management, taking care of my personal hygiene and appearance, mental health, and getting the proper amount of nutrition and rest.  That said, I’m giving myself permission not to focus on exercise.  It causes pain and I don’t enjoy it.

Overall, it’s still difficult but I’m committed to making this work because this enables everything this.

Money makes the world go round

This is the second enabler because without money we don’t get very far.  Essentially, there are two very specific goals with the aim overall of having a good lifestyle – one which allows me to be comfortable, not to have to worry, and able to do what I want.

The first goal is to get mortgage and debt free by the time I’m fifty.  I want to free up that part of my earnings.  The second goal is then related to that which is to invest in my pension.  I want to ensure my old age has options.  So, there’s that.

There are two immediate outcomes of both of these decisions.  Firstly, I’m not moving anywhere.  It’s sensible to stay at the house, pay off the mortgage and then downsize, moving somewhere I can pay off straight away.  Secondly, I need stable employment so I’m intending to stay as long as I can at the University.  I like it there, I like the people.  I just need to ensure I factor in a good work/life balance so I don’t start to resent it.

Family and friends who matter; be the best I can be

This is the first outcome from the enablers: I want to be healthy and wealthy enough to spend time with the people I love.

This replaces the goal of spending time with friends and family.  My aim here rather is to focus efforts on spending the time on the people who matter the most to me in small ways too and always ensuring that what I’m doing is also the best I can do given my own issues.  I shouldn’t put myself under pressure to meet up with people if I’m tired and in pain.  That said, just like during the last month, I want to enjoy my time with my friends as I have done.

Choice not chore

This works on a couple of levels (no pun intended).

Firstly, work is a chore.  I’m a good project manager, a good people manager (and I like to hope that I’m more importantly I’m a good person), but I didn’t set out to be either.  I love writing and I enjoy teaching and learning; that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.  Be a teacher.  Write.  So, I’m going to focus on developing both of those aspects outside of my day job which I need to pay the bills, which I need to be good enough at to pay the bills.  Right now, work is a chore but that’s a choice for right now.

Secondly, I don’t want my professional aims to become a chore; I want to enjoy working towards them.  So.  I’ll write what I want to write when I want to write.

Thirdly, I’ve taken the step to continue to work on my MSc for Psychology with the aim of getting my Doctorate. I want that professional kudos.  Again, it’s a choice albeit one which I can see becoming a chore if deadlines and studying come under pressure.

Make it happen

This is the last of the new strategies I’m putting in place.  None of the above is going to happen unless I commit to doing this and seeing it through.

It’s the ultimate enabler and the one I need to keep in my head.  Who knows better than a change manager how difficult it is to truly change.  But it can be done, and I can achieve what I’ve set out to achieve.

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August Update

Another update as we head into the final weeks of August – where does the time go?

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: Just had a ‘naughty’ week so getting back to the weightwatchers plan tomorrow.  It’s been difficult with my Dad cooking despite him trying his best to accommodate – it’s just not as easy for me to control my points intake.  But Dad is back to Mauritius now so I have a good few months between now and December to get back in the groove so to speak.

Regular exercise: So, so bad at this!  OK, diet back on track this week and then we’ll get to the exercise.

Good sleep routine: Doing much better here bizarrely.  Not quite in a routine but I’m doing better so kudos to me.  (Or rather I can’t quite keep my eyes open).

Balanced Work/Life: Doing better although I feel hypocritical saying that when I’ve just spent the weekend working.

Positive thinking: Yes.  Actually thinking about this last month, even when I’ve been down I haven’t been as hard on myself .

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: Today’s the first time I haven’t done my body maintenance in weeks and I am going to do it tomorrow (working at home tomorrow).

Sometimes it feels like I take two steps forward but one step back every month with this goal but at least if the overall trajectory is forward that’s going in the right direction.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Things are on track here and I’ve had some nice time with my Dad and my sister through July/August.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

Enjoying my job which is good.  I’m also starting to see what I want to do over the next five years.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

Doing more writing which is great – and I know what I want to do here too.

So, still on with my goals, still making progress.

July Update

Almost at the end of July so a quick update…

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: Good intentions to start again and I have been keeping much better track.  I still could improve on the planning front but to be frank with my Dad home and cooking there isn’t any point getting too hung up about the diet as Dad cooks.  He’s mostly been great – has really tried to comply with the points – reducing potatoes in curry, going for the brown rice, etc. but there are days when he just does something and he clearly hasn’t thought about the impact to my diet.  Still, since he’s cooking, I can’t complain too much.  My plan is to continue as-is while Dad is here and then do a full reboot on the diet again when he’s gone in a similar way to the way that I did it in Jan.

Regular exercise: Yes, this has gone nowhere due to my condition being a little bit hit and miss, and just incredibly busy at work.  I was managing to walk up Oxford Rd two times a week but with graduation taxis near to work have been plentiful so…ok I need to try harder!

Good sleep routine: I’m still struggling – some weeks have been better than others but I’m trying.

Balanced Work/Life: Hmmm, having just spent a whole day yesterday working I’m not sure I’ve kept completely with the spirit of this but this past week has just been ludicrous from a work perspective – and that happens; some weeks are better than others.  This week will be busy and difficult but August has the potential to be quieter so I can make progress on some standard things.

Positive thinking: I have been living CBT even if it hasn’t always been effective depending on the situation.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: I’ve really managed to do body maintenance for the last few weeks and it does make a difference to how I feel and the clothes I wear so…trying to keep that up.  The other thing to note is that I am hooked up to a cardiac monitor right now but I’m not expecting it to find anything at all.

Overall, I do think I’ve made strides to turn this objective around from where it was the last time I updated.  I just need to continue doing what I’m doing and plugging away.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I have things planned in August and June/July has been busy with Dad and Sheila so all good.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

Tough week, but…you know what? All jobs have tough weeks.  Mostly the role is a positive in my life – good boss, great team, lots of opportunity to create something good, and I’m pleased with where I am.

I still don’t have is a ‘what does the future look like in five years’ – what is the ideal for me beyond this job.  I so I still do need to do some thinking on that.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

I’ve made progress, finished one short story and on with another.  This week has been terrible for writing though.

In summary, good progress; I’m definitely not losing sight of my goals and I have improved from the last update in keeping on track.  More to do but I’m comfortable I’m doing my best for right now.

June Update

Well, I think the lack of an update in May probably speaks volumes.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: May and June really saw me backslide a lot.  Yes, I’ve kept some track of my points but I’ve stopped planning, preparing or if I plan and prepare, I’ve stopped with the follow-through.  Some of this is driven by a spin through the depression cycle.  I got depressed and everything is a battle; everything becomes touched by fatigue and lassitude. It’s hard to pull myself up in that respect. So, today; new week, clean slate, let’s start again.

Regular exercise: Same as with the diet – I’ve ended up backsliding quite badly.  Some of it is the depression; some of it is the fatigue; some of it just the new availability of taxis closer to my workplace.  I need to make sure that I’m choosing the healthy option to walk up the road even if it adds time on to my day.

Good sleep routine: Definitely a miss here.  In my depressed state, sleeping well is not happening which includes a very stubborn refusal to just go to sleep already and turn the light off at a decent time.

Balanced Work/Life: I’m still doing better here than in other jobs so that’s a big plus – I’m being more ruthless about prioritising (I need to make sure I’m balancing that with what I’m promising in terms of turnaround and timescales though) and I think I am creating time in my ‘life’ side.  I’m not convinced I’m spending it wisely but I have created time which is a huge step forward.

Positive thinking: Depression is not a great motivator for positive thinking, even if positive thinking is a way out of the spiral.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: Yep.  Backsliding.  I feel better when I do this.  I just can’t maintain (no pun intended) it.

In terms of this objective being a foundation for others, this last month and a half has been a real struggle.  I’m determined to draw a line though and ensure just because I have let things slide recently, that I reverse that momentum and if not start all over again, at least move forward from here.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I did manage to spend time with family and friends over May and into June my Dad has arrived back so no option now!  The one reschedule was not mine so that was good.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I’m definitely settled and I’m beginning to feel that I understand the size and shape of what I need to do and build going forward within this role.  There’s some uncertainty and concern because leadership is changing but I like my boss, I have a good team and we’re making a difference.

What I don’t have is a ‘what does the future look like in five years’ – what is the ideal for me beyond this job.  I do need to do some thinking on that.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

As is often the case when I’m depressed, it doesn’t lend itself to writing.  I’ve picked up again in the last week and I’ve signed on for another challenge to hopefully get myself in the mood again.

So.

To summarise: The last month health-wise has been difficult and as is often the case when that happens, things go slightly out of kilter food and exercise wise (because clearly we need to compound the problem).  I’m drawing my line, I’m refocusing and I’m going to move forward from here.  The choices I make are important for my health and they’re important in making sure I have a life beyond work – in all meanings of that phrase.  Onwards.  Forward.  Let’s agree to start winning some ground back.

April Update

As we’re in the final days of April, how am I doing now?

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: April has been a real struggle to keep in the healthy-eating lane.  So I’ve stayed in my points but I’ve really not been great about the choices I’m making within the points – chips, doughnuts, and biscuits…

I know I can do better even if some of this is driven by fatigue, headaches and time.

Reading what I put in March, I think pretty much holds true.  I need to be kind to myself when I am making non-healthy choices for those reasons but I also need to balance the non-healthy decisions with better eating when I can.

Regular exercise: April was better than March but admittedly there have been days when I have fatigue and headaches where if I can get a taxi sooner on Oxford Road, I don’t make the whole walk.  That does make sense when I am fatigued – it’s a quicker journey home – but not great then for exercise.  Normal housework is also not cutting it from an additional exercise perspective so I do need to look in May for something I can do regularly.  This may also balance out the times when I’m not making good food choices.

Good sleep routine: I am consciously making choices about my sleep hours which is good but I could do with establishing a better routine that’s true and aiming for an 11pm lights out.

Balanced Work/Life: I’ve done better here than at other times but I do have a capacity issue from a work perspective which I’m addressing.  I think Life suffers when I am fatigued because I save my energy for work – have to pay the bills, after all.  That’s when I get into poor sleep habits because as soon as I feel a little better in the evening I’ll stay up then to take advantage of that to have some ‘life’ stuff.  It’s a vicious cycle and I need to stop it.

Positive thinking: I’m trying but fatigue is a bummer.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: And ditto on this one.

Overall, I think I’ve treaded water during April; no real slide back but no progression either.  Something to aim for in May.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Didn’t happen.  To be fair, one of the reschedules was not down to me although I was grateful it happened.  All is rescheduled for May so hopefully those will go ahead.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I’m pushing forward on getting settled into my new job – and I now feel that I’m really beginning to understand the landscape, and I’m beginning to make a difference.  There’s some politics and manoeuvrings which are always fun but overall things are beginning to take shape.

I now feel I can start making plans for the future which is a good thing and that will be the aim in May to come out of May with that plan.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

Challenge went well and I actually completed the word count in early April.  I’m still writing that so I can get as much done and completed on that before I move onto something else.

Overall, I think the sense of inertia is probably right; I’ve moved forward a little with some goals, treaded water in others, have concerns about others.  I’m not beating myself up too much but I think a renewed effort on some of the goals is required without losing the progress I’ve made elsewhere.

March Update

Well, almost at the end of March so I thought I’d do another check-in.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: Well, I’m still on WeightWatchers and I’m still making decisions while keeping in mind my points.  I always intended in March to shift from the very strict adherence I had in January and February (when I wasn’t in Mauritius) to settle into eating my full points for the day while keeping my weekly points for a treat/night out.

What I have found difficult is when I’m very tired and not really interested in cooking, it’s difficult to stay in the lane of ‘healthy eating’.  I’ve been exhausted from travelling to Mauritius and a very intense period of time when I came back at work, and so haven’t been well at all through March.  This week, I went back to work after some sick leave and it was really difficult to come home and cook.  I resorted to take-away and now I’m looking at a weekend of keeping to my daily points because I have used all my weekly to get me over the hump of exhaustion.

And even though I am still within my points, I am feeling disappointed that I had take-away three times within 7 days.

So.  I have to give myself a break and accept that it happened and not be too down on myself for it.  Yes, maybe there are ways of planning better when I know I’m tired so I don’t give in to sliding back to take-aways.  But maybe I also need to recognise that it’s OK for me to do this when I’m really fatigued so long as I don’t use it as an excuse to stop eating healthier in the main.

Regular exercise: Flare-ups and illness have meant that this has taken a back step.  I have walked as I intend up Oxford Road a couple of times this week.  I need to increase that next week and also start tackling the housework again in a meaningful way as it is a good active use of body.  I’ll look beyond that when I get myself back to the point I was before Mauritius.

Good sleep routine: Yep.  This hasn’t really gone anywhere beyond my ensuring I get 6 hours of sleep during a work night.  I need to do better here and implement a routine I will stick to.

Balanced Work/Life: Definitely still an area for improvement.  I do work a lot and when I’m ill this just means the life part of the equation suffers. It also means I get stubborn about going to sleep because it feels like I’ve had no time to have ‘life’ between getting home, having dinner and bedtime.

Positive thinking: It’s so more difficult when ill.  And that’s all I’m going to say.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: And ditto on this one.

Overall, I won’t say I haven’t lost any ground but while I don’t think I’ve moved forward this month, I don’t think I’ve taken more than a step back.  I just need to draw a line and start stepping forward again.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

Tired and ill.

I did manage to see Kate but cancelled on two other social engagements in March.  I rearranged them and I need to push on a couple of others.  I do have something arranged to see my sister on Sunday so that will be good.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

Financial review is done and I’m going to make some changes to increase my financial sustainability.

It has been difficult at work while I’ve been exhausted.  Things have slipped and so I’m disappointed for that reason.  What has been good is that I do think I’m making a difference and I’ve been comforted knowing that nobody has thrown a guilt trip at me for being ill which has happened in my working past.  I’m extending my ‘settling in’ to April to account for the slippage.

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

So I picked up a work in progress while I was off ill and managed to get it written, and I’ve signed up to a new challenge in April so now I’m back in the groove so to speak.

I am still making good progress.  I just need to hold on to that and forgive myself for being tired and not feeling great, and the choices I make while I am ill.  I do what I need to do to get back to a stable position and that’s OK.

February Update

Mid-way through February so I thought I would do another check-in on my goals.

Manage my health better; good diet, regular exercise, good sleep routine, balanced work/life, positive thinking and good mind/spirit/body maintenance. 

Good diet: So, still doing weight watchers although the holiday to Mauritius did make for a challenging time.  A couple of good learning points:

(1) Alcohol was where I ended up spending a lot of my points – which fair enough, we’re on holiday and I like wine and champagne and cocktails.  But if I have alcohol my ability to be disciplined with my food choices is very, very reduced – I need to watch for this in the future

(2) Travel and food was where the real challenge came in – not a great deal of choice even in business class – if I go on holiday again (thinking of a cruise with Dad in June) then I’ll need to plan better to take care of this

While I am certain I have blown my weekly targets for last week and this (although discipline is back on the books for the next three days of this week), I don’t think that I’ve put all the weight I lost before the holiday back on (still fitting reasonably comfortably into my size 12s) although I am certain I’ve put on a few pounds.

I’m intending to be very disciplined this week (even with a visit from Kate on Friday) and the following but resume a more relaxed approach in March.

Regular exercise: I’m in a lot of pain today so not the best time to think about this as I feel barely able to walk.  Travel is exhausting and physically stressful on my body, and I did push it a little yesterday as I went out to drop in my repeat prescription request, cleaned the bathrooms the cat sitters used, and then I did lots of laundry to try and get everything ship-shape again.

So, I plan to rest as much as possible this weekend and keep the physical to a minimum.  Next week, I’ll resume my walking up Oxford Rd regime.  I’ve got a spa day on Sunday at the Midland so I may investigate joining the gym there…and investigating overall what is the best approach.  The additional housework/cleaning I did to sort everything out before Mauritius has given my limbs some tone and I’m keen not to lose that.

Good sleep routine: Haven’t really done very much with this so this will be another ‘to-do’ over the next month as I try to implement a routine – mainly lights out time to start as this is my major failing point.  If I don’t give myself the opportunity for 7-8 hours of sleep I’m on a losing streak immediately.  And let’s not speak of the disturbed/unrestful issues that come with CFS and fibromyalgia.

Balanced Work/Life: This went out of the window in the run-up to hols as I was desperately trying to get everything done before I left.  Again, something I need to work on when I am back in the office next Monday.

Positive thinking: Much, much better than I have been for a long time.  I have a lot of good things in my life right now so keeping positive is not difficult.  I just need to keep focused on the positive and not let the negative creep in.

Good mind, body & spirit maintenance: This is something I’m adding to the goal because this is about every-day looking after myself not just the specific objectives I’ve listed out – yes, a good diet, regular exercise, etc. are part of good maintenance but this is wider.  It’s having care each day about the basics – taking time to mentally balance myself, moisturise my skin, clean my teeth properly, shave my legs…it’s taking the time to do my nails and wear jewellery and feel good about myself.  I’m better at doing some of this when I’m on holiday (sun-cream and taking care of my skin is very important) but I could do better at home too.  But I really need to think about what this particular objective is about and create a plan of action from that.

Spend quality time with family and friends; make time and make sure I have energy to keep my promises and spend the time with people!

I feel like I’m doing well with this one so far this year.  Had a great dinner with Kath before the holiday (with another pencilled in), seeing Kate on Friday, still have my lunch date with Carl arranged and I have another few socials to get in the diary now I’m back in the country.

Sheila, Dad and I have just spent a holiday together so we’re probably overloaded on spending time with each other!  I can’t say I haven’t enjoyed the last twenty-four hours of just me and the cat.  It was a good holiday.  Lots of sea and sun mainly with a few lunches and dinners with family crammed in.  It is challenging being in Mauritius – the climate, the mosquitoes, the language and the different culture all make it challenging.  But it was right to go and celebrate Dad’s birthday with him and I’m pleased we went.

All in all, I don’t think I need to do anything more than what I am already doing here.

Get settled in my new job, map out my future ‘work’ and make it happen; get an achievable plan for my future career.

I said last time I’m focusing on getting settled in my new job at least until March and that’s what I’m doing.  I actually do love it and believe I can make a difference – I am making a difference.  I may change my mind when I go back into the fray next week but right now, this feels like it was a good move for me.

What I do need to do is a complete financial review sooner rather than later, and I can start ruminating on ‘future career.’

Write what makes me happy; make writing enjoyable again.

I haven’t done anything.  Not too surprising because my available energy has gone to cleaning the house, doing my diet and working my tail off to get everything in a place where I could go on holiday.  The plan to restart writing Aftershocks crumbled in the face of those priority calls.

The holiday didn’t really allow for much writing time and what there was I used to read and relax – to restore energy.  I believe it was the right decision but it nags at me that I’m a month and a half into the year and haven’t made any progress on any of my writing projects.

I’m planning on spending some of today and tomorrow doing some writing.  It’s important to me and I need to get back on the horse so to speak.

Overall then, I’m making good progress – I don’t feel stalled as I did in previous years and there is a lot to feel good about as I read back through this review.  I just need to keep it up!