Freshly finished BuJo page days before Santa brought me my Christmas coal cold.I wanted to write a follow up to my post about New Years goals/resolutions but as it would happen I spent the end of 2018 and the start of 2019 being somewhat unsure if I’d ever start feeling like more than an incubator for germs and fluids.
Eight days into 2019 I’m finally a person again, albeit one who needs rest, fluids and still has a sore throat as reminder of worse days. I was actually sick prior to Christmas with a little tickle in my throat, some sneezing and nothing else that would really warn me of how bad things would get. Usually when I get sick I can power through and so I assumed this would be the same so I did. I’m not sure if it was the fact that my body understood that turning thirty-five was some sort of important milestone or if 2018 just wanted a final laugh but in the last six days of the year I spent most of my time unconscious, drinking fluids or trying to find a position which didn’t leave me coughing so hard I thought my eyes would stay bugged out forever.
Before the Pen. My fairly minimalist Bujo bi-weekly spread.Last year I began drawing reflection questions from my regular journal entries. Note I say regular not daily or weekly because although I started journaling in the Artist’s Way school of three pages daily I have found that I prefer a different routine. There is some regularity to my journaling because I consistently finish a journal every four months. The entries follow the general philosophy of the Artist’s Way which is to work through whatever random things are jostling around in order to free your mind to pursue creative projects and prevent creative blocks.
What I used these entries for in 2018 was to draw out reflection questions for myself in order to work on things that continued to crop up as obsessions, rants and problems in my life. Some examples include:
- I have a tendency to take on extra projects, tasks, activities and overwhelm myself in an attempt to get everything done. This usually results in problems for me because although I often manage to complete them I find myself burned out as a result. So I drew reflection questions from this – Why do I overload myself? Who am I trying to impress? What can I do to be more myself?
- There were also more general questions for trying to refine my journaling work – What are my values? What do I want to accomplish/experience over the next 10 years? Next 20? What fills me with joy? What fills me with gratitude?
- In response to my changing my workout routine I used the opportunity to question myself about my body in general – How do I feel about my body? Why do I feel this way? How do I want to feel about my body? Why do I want to feel that way? What can I do to find a better balance?
- Delving further beyond the purely physical side of the body question I developed these questions – What stresses me out? What relaxes or calms me? What would I do with more time?
- I also reflected further on the question of time and what I wanted to do in a year, five years and ten years but I added to that – What do I want to take with me? What do I want to leave behind?
These reflection questions gave me far more opportunity for growth and change than I have achieved through goal setting alone. Interrogating my thought processes, goals and struggles made it possible to articulate larger modes in my life. My perfectionism is something I have understood to be self-destructive but apart from telling myself to stop being such a perfectionist I haven’t been especially motivated to work on it because it is a positive self-destructive trait in that it has always made me work hard without regard to myself. But the by-products of that have tripped me up frequently and often baffled me because I didn’t recognize where they’d come from. Reflecting on the by-products helped me to really look at those perfectionist tendencies in a new light. Additionally, by not just looking critically at problems but also asking — what do I want to replace this with? — made it possible to provide myself with viable alternatives to behaviors that weren’t serving me well.
Despite the fact that I was so sick I couldn’t celebrate New Years in any of the ways I had hoped I entered 2019 with a solid list of priorities:
These expand into specific “goals” that are actionable
- Write more letters, reach out to friends/family just to say hi, have quality downtime with my husband, comment on people’s creative work (rather than just “liking”)
- Eat in ways that fuel my life, exercise for energy and endurance, work on posture
- More quiet time, read for pleasure (rather than just for NetGalley/Goodreads)
- Focus on editing this year
But there are also “trail markers” for me
- Another table event like last year’s Jax Makes
- Make family Christmas cards by the end of August (I usually wait until the last minute in December because August-November is always busy)
While I was sick I was able to focus on the fact that one of my priorities for 2019 was Health and that this wasn’t just a matter of losing weight, getting in shape or anything like that but was the truly manageable goal of engaging in activities that enhance my general health and well being. So, being the sickest I’ve ever been meant that doing things like drinking tons of water, sleeping when my body felt too tired (even though I’d only been awake for an hour) was in fact helping me meet my goals. As such I was really able to focus on what I was doing. That mental shift was everything.