Things are not getting worse. I’ll take it!
We’re starting on the last week of January, and not only do I feel better than usual, I actually feel GOOD! And I feel good without having to use any tricks. I mean, I don’t consider any of these sorts of tricks to be cheating in any way. I make a point of dressing nicely, having a really good shave, cooking myself an elaborate and delicious meal, etc. to make me feel better about myself, life, and just generally better. Most winters, I need those kinds of tools to get by. I don’t this year. I’m not having to do that stuff; I haven’t really done much of it. I’ve cooked, of course, but I haven’t done anything especially fancy: just normal winter fare, like chili, pasta sauce, and stews. I haven’t worn a suit specifically to pick myself up. I did one day this month for somewhere I was going, for someone else’s benefit. I did a couple of times in December, more so just because I felt like it, but a little to improve my mood. But all of January, and I haven’t done that stuff. I don’t feel just okay. I feel good. Genuinely good. It’s amazing. It’s empowering. It’s inspiring. It’s rewarding. I don’t know what else to say about it. The whole situation has me contentedly flabbergasted.
Whenever I let my apartment get messy, I know it’s making me feel worse, and I know I’ll feel better when it’s clean. I always forget how much better I’ll feel. So, my apartment is clean now. Well, pretty clean. And clean enough that it no longer feels dirty/messy/chaotic. I feel a lot better. I’m having a good day today. I’m winning.
Quick summary of Parts 1 and 2:
Goals have to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound
The Main Goal set in Part 1 is: Read 150 books in a calendar year by Dec 31, 2026.
In Part 2 we determined that you have to get your reading from about 3 hours/week, to about 35, with some binge-reading days here and there, in order to get to that point. Ultimately, you’re going to read longer before bed, some time set aside each evening, and on weekends, on the bus/train to and from work, and during your lunches.
So, in the last part, I talked a bit about sub-goals, and now we’re going to work out just what they would be/how you would set them. Sub-goals are the milestones you hit along the way to your Main Goal. Action Plans are the steps you take to get to each Sub-Goal.
The easiest Sub-Goals to set are Incremental Goals, where you just break up your Main Goal into shorter time blocks. Here’s how you could do it for your reading goal of 150 books in 2026:
- 2015 (Actual): 3 books
- 2016: 6 books
- February 29: Finish 1st Book
- April 30: Finish 2nd Book
- June 30: Finish 3rd Book
- August 31: Finish 4th Book
- October 31: Finish 5th Book
- December 31: Finish 6th Book
- 2017: 12 books
- January 31: Finish 1st Book
- February 28: Finish 2nd Book
- (You get the idea)
- 2018: 24 books
- 2019: 40 books
- 2020: 55 books
- 2021: 70 books
- 2022: 85 books
- 2023: 105 books
- 2024: 120 books
- 2025: 135 books
- 2026: 150 books
Pretty simple, right? Right. But we can do we even better than that. There are things you have to be capable of doing, before you can hit each one. To read the 150 books, based on the logic laid out in Part 2, you’ve got to be able to finish a book in 13 hours of reading. So, you’re going to have to be able to do that before 2026 starts. So that’s another type of Sub-Goal: Competency Goals. These are the capabilities you need to build so you can achieve the Main Goal.
- August 31: Have read at least one book in 30 days or fewer
- June 30: Have read a book in 14 or fewer days at least once
- August 31: Have read 2 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 10 days or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read 3 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 7 days or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read 4 books in a month at least once
- September 30: Have read a book in 6 days or fewer at least once
- October 31: Have read 5 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 5 days or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read 6 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 4 days or fewer at least once
- August 31: have read 7 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 3 days or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read 8 books in a month at least once
- October 31: Have read 9 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 15 hours or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read 10 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 14 hours or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read at least 11 books in a month at least once
- October 31: Have read at least 12 books in a month at least once
- June 30: Have read a book in 13 hours or fewer at least once
- August 31: Have read at least 13 books in a month at least once
So you can see how you gradually get to reading more, and faster. Plus, if you’re going along and realize your progress is either way ahead, or lagging behind, your Incremental and Competency Goals, you can adjust those, and your Main Goal, accordingly. By 2018, you might decide that 100 books is the most you can realistically read in a year, and make that your new 10-year Main Goal, and adjust everything else accordingly.
Now comes Action Plans. How are you going to get to each goal? If you do these for Incremental Goals, most of the time they’re the same steps for your Competency Goals. If you figure that your reading speed will improve as you read more and become more practiced, then your action plan is pretty much entirely about increasing the amount of time you spend reading. If you don’t think your reading speed will improve enough on its own, you would include some specific strategies (like taking a speed-reading class, or practicing skimming for content) in your Action Plans. You’d be specific with those steps, eg. “Take Speed-Reading 1 at Community Centre” or “Read two full chapters of current book by skimming only.” That sort of thing. I think that’s pretty simple to grasp, so I’m just going to lay out some sample Action Plans under the assumption your reading speed would just get faster with all the extra practice.
SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 1
GOAL: Finish 1st Book of 2016
TARGET DATE: February 29, 2016
1. Read on at least 50 different days.
2. Read for at least an hour on 25 different days.
SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 2
GOAL: Finish 4th Book of 2016
TARGET DATE: August 31, 2016
1. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read on at least 55 different days.
2. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read for at least an hour on 35 different days.
3. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read during lunch on at least 10 different days.
4. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read for at least 30 minutes, twice in the same day, on at least 20 different days.
SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 3
GOAL: Read 3 Books During January 2019
TARGET DATE: January 31, 2019
1. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read at least 1 hour at night every day
2. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read during lunch on at least 10 different days
3. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read for an at least an hour, twice in the same day, on at least 20 different days.
4. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read on the bus/train to and from work on at least 12 different days.
These may not be exactly what you’d work out if you did all the planning, and figuring, but you can see the idea. Everything in an Action Plan is something you can decide to do. The only thing needed for it to happen, is your choice to act. They depend only on things completely within your control. Goals and Sub-Goals, on the other hand, are affected by things you can control, as well as things you can’t control. The purpose of the Action Plan is to find the elements you can control, and use them to give yourself the best possible chance to succeed.
So that’s my much-longer-than-planned series on Goal Setting. Did not plan to spend all this time on it, but I’m glad I did. I hope a few people actually read it.
So overall I’m doing … even with the stuff I keep specifically complaining about, this is the best winter I can remember. It’s half way through January, and I only have bad days when something actually causes them. Even then, it’s few and far between. I’m in a momentum slump since Thursday, but I’m kicking my ass out of it today. Going to do a bunch of the stuff on my list.
Then there’s the big long conflict dealie I keep writing about. It’s going really slowly. I mean, that’s an improvement, because it had actually been getting steadily worse for over two months. So I can see it’s moving in the right direction now. Still, it’s just been going on so long, and it’s been such a strain, that I a feel like I’ll collapse under it. (Collapsing would look like just giving up, and letting it go entirely, not hurting myself, or spending a month in bed – see best winter ever!) Eventually I will collapse, unless the process accelerates. At the current rate, I just don’t have the stamina to get to the end. I want to. I want to make it to the end, and resolve the situation. It’s the most important thing in my life right now. I just know it has to move faster.
The ship is held together with scotch tape right now, and the tape will only last so long. We’re not welding fast enough. I canno’ hold ‘er tagether like this for very much longer, cap’n!
So, one of the conflicts I’ve been cryptically writing about, I have now done everything I can on my end to move beyond the past. I’ve sent three important messages in the past 8 days. I accepted responsibility, and apologised as completely as I possibly could, for my part. I extended forgiveness for everything in the past. I laid out what’s changed so that there can be some good faith we won’t end up in the same place. As I see it, that’s all there is.
A contrite apology is either accepted, or it isn’t, and need only be made once. That isn’t to say it has to be accepted immediately, but the apology doesn’t need to be, nor should it be, remade in the time between being offered, and being accepted.
Forgiveness can either be taken as genuine, or not. Once forgiveness is granted, it doesn’t actually matter whether the recipient believes it. If it was granted for real, that’s it; it’s over and done for the granting party. It cannot, and should not, be re-granted, because it remains extant.
One can either believe, or not believe, that the situation will truly be different going forward. Offering up the same explanation multiple times will not change it. So, again, it need not, and should not, be repeated.
For my part, I’ve cleaned the slate. It is in their hands now, to decide if they will do the same. As far as the past is concerned, I have done all I can.
If you read my post yesterday, you know I felt pretty crappy. It was the yelling in my car at other drivers, generally frustrated and irate with everything, sort of day. I forgot both m meds, and to eat for most of the day. So, my mood was crappy, but then I wasn’t depressed, but then those can be manifestations of depression. I was going to call my mood a 7/10 (I’ve been tracking it like this since I made a change in my medication) because there were other factors affecting it. I have a “mood” column, and a “thoughts” column, and every morning, I rate the previous day’s mood, and thoughts, out of 10. Just a subjective rating of how good I thought they were. I also have a column for each pill I take (1 for took it, 0 for didn’t) and one for thoughts of self-harm (1 for present, 0 for not). Then I remembered I have this “notes” column. It was meant originally to track side effects and stuff with the change in medication, but it soon came to be as much a journal as anything, which REALLY helped. A LOT. So I’m a total believer in journaling. But I’ve actually been forgetting to make notes in the original purpose, which includes things like “didn’t eat today” or “had nine cups of coffee” or “had some twitching in my left arm” etc. So, I dropped my score for mood down to 6, and am about to note the other factors from yesterday, primarily not eating, and the messed up sleep. I kept my thoughts score at 8, because all day long yesterday I was aware of my mood, and what was likely causing it, and did a pretty good job of managing it, and keeping it in perspective in the grand scheme. So, there you go!