We’ve all been there. You spent all week looking forward to the weekend to lay back and relax, get your shit together, and rest in order to prevent waking up on Monday feeling like crap and wondering why your week and your life must be so miserable.
If you’ve asked yourself this before, enough times, you probably know what the real solution to your problems might be.
For me, it’s all about planning, and although I’ve struggled with being consistent before (that’s another post, later), I’ve asked myself this question enough times and tried many different things in order to know what works for me.
I’m not a master or a guru, at all. I’m just a regular guy who has struggled with many forms of depression in the past and knows how debilitating it can be when nothing in your life seems to make sense, when everything you ever thought you wanted suddenly doesn’t matter anymore because you’ve become so indifferent and numb to everything you’re feeling, that you can’t manage to spare enough energy to get yourself out of the hole.
Stuck in survival mode, waiting for the tide to finally come in and sweep you off your feet into sleep. Suddenly, it’s Monday again.
The Importance of Having a Plan
Depression is not something you can cure by reading a single blog post, but if you’re ever feeling down, reading an article on the subject you’re unsure about can definitely help you find a focus point to help you past your current state. If there’s something I’ve learned through my own scuffles with this disease, it’s that your body and mind will fight you tooth and nail to get you to stay where you are. Don’t you let it.
Planning helps you define your goals and objectives, providing a clear sense of direction in both the short and long term.
This clarity allows you to focus your efforts on tasks that align with your goals, reducing the chances of feeling overwhelmed or lost. When you have a well-structured plan, you’re more likely to stay organized and manage your time effectively. This can lead to increased productivity, as you’re able to prioritize tasks, avoid procrastination, and make the most of your available time.
It is way easier said than it is done, but the good part is: no one gets to set your goals for you. Only you get to set your own goals, and those can be anything you want.
Just remember this: a good plan allows you to divide your goals into simpler tasks that get you closer to your final goal. A very good plan even potential roadblocks, stressors, or threats into account, leaving almost nothing up to chance.
When creating your plan, it’s important to never lose sight of the “bigger” picture you have in your mind. As we all know, life is always more than just our plans to become better; your health, family, and personal relations should all be factored into your final plan, as well as rest, playtime, and more planning.
Planning is not a single event or moment, it takes time to develop your master plan. So much time in fact, that your plan will need to go through several different iterations until you finally hit that sweet spot that puts you in a place of oneness with your goals. With enough practice, you’ll be able to look back someday and notice how much closer you are to your goals, or how much you’ve changed as a person, or maybe you’ll find your goals have morphed or changed altogether, and that’s good.
How to Develop Your Plan
Although I can’t tell you what your plan should be, I can share what planning looks like for me, what I think about, and commit to, and the results I’ve experienced. As I said before, I’m no guru. This is just my method of coping with my life’s own challenges, my dreams, and my responsibilities to those around me.
It’s easy for me to get comfortable and think I don’t owe anyone anything so that I can just sit back and relax, even after a long day at work. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy personal time off, both from screens and people, I’ve just stopped making plans for the simple sake of getting more hours of sleep, it’s counterproductive.
If you’re not sleeping enough, find out what the problem is, and look for ways to fix that first.
Step One: Put your responsibilities first
Do you work? Plan for that. Do you want to start working out? Plan for that. Do you need to get groceries this week, visit grandma, babysit for your sister, or pick your brother up from the airport? Plan for it.
In the long run, this can only help you become a man of your word, and you’ll win points with everyone by always lending a helping hand, showing up, and pitching in whenever it’s necessary.
When you think about it, that’s really how many families manage to stay together. When we are unselfish enough to prioritize our family’s well-being and peace of mind, we become like glue that helps everyone stick together through all of life’s hardships. Don’t get me wrong, I never said put your family first, it’s put your responsibilities first. This means you plan to show up for yourself every day by working, exercising, and keeping your own roof free of leaves (it’s a bad example), and then, only then, you can start showing up for others.
Making a list of priorities will help you achieve this. When you are serious about committing to your goals, you need to put yourself first. This doesn’t mean neglecting your family or forgetting your friends, it just shows how important your goals are to you, how unfaltering you can be in order to achieve what truly means something to you, and how willing you are to help others while you’re at it.
The secret to achieving your goals is to just be responsible for them while not being a selfish prick to others. Please note that we can only begin to serve others once we are ready to commit to ourselves, not before. Take your time, figure things out, and hopefully things fall into their rightful place. Your people should understand where you’re coming from.
Step Two: Carve out time
Now that you know how much time will need to be devoted this week to your work, health, and relations (have I stressed how important these are to your well-being?), it’s time to actually create the time slots that will allow you to perform at your best.
First, choose your weapon. Do you like to write? Use a notepad. Any paper is fine, you pick what’s right for you. Do you prefer using technology? Use your phone’s note app or something like Google Calendar that lets you select time slots for different things throughout your day and lets you see your progress at a glance.
Both have their own pros and cons, but there’s also no way to be wrong on this one. I personally prefer to keep a long-term goal tracker on paper to keep up with overall progress. You can set time on your calendar to go back to these every once in a while, reviewing and making changes as you see fit. Now the kicker: I keep a separate 5X8 notepad somewhere on my desk where I can write down weekly or even daily goals. An example of my weekly goals might look like this:
- Work out (3 – 4 times)
- Read (8 – 12 chapters)
- Personal projects (10 – 20 hours)
As you can see, these are really broad scope. I’m flexible, so I won’t beat myself to a pulp if I don’t make it to 12 chapters, or if I don’t work out four times. The point here is that these are supposed to help you navigate the time that’s left on your calendar after you’ve carved out a spot for everything else that is your responsibility.
Since my long-term goals don’t necessarily change too often, or that much, I know what my typical weekly plans will look like. I just need to find out what needs to be done first so I can make time for what I want to do next.
I don’t typically create a daily to-do list in advance. I usually do it the night before or the moment I begin my workday, I will create a checklist of everything that needs to happen that day, then cross them out as I complete each task. It’s kinda fun and helps you stay motivated to pursue your goals when you notice you’re actually striving for them.
Step Three: Commit to long-term well-being
Life is precious, man. But life can also be chaotic, unorganized, and cruel. Unfortunately, many of us learn this the hard way.
If you want more out of life, for yourself or others, you can’t leave it up to chance. You have to dream it, plan it, and then you have to get up every day and make it happen, even if you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, even if you don’t want to. In a few months, you’ll see why this step is so important.
Planning provides a roadmap for personal growth, productivity, and well-being. Through goal-setting and efficient time management, planning adds direction to our efforts. It alleviates stress by equipping us to anticipate challenges and respond purposefully. Embracing planning fosters self-assurance, creativity, and habitually proactive approaches to life and its challenges, use it to your utmost advantage.