Things were so grim when I had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in 2016 that the idea of setting goals or targets was abandoned. Instead with the therapist, we agreed I would have aspirations – things I hoped to achieve, but without too much optimism in the room. However, it mostly worked.
I now have a list that covers every day of the week. For each day there are my basic self-care stuff, regular tasks, and then space for creative work that takes up most of the day, along with stuff in the evenings.
The idea is that everything I need to do over the week is on the list. I sit down each week – generally Wednesday evenings – and plan ahead. Large parts of it get deleted. I don’t, for instance, do all that cleaning every Friday! For most evenings I put what YouTube things I’m into and what book I’m reading. This week’s book is Patti Smith’s latest, Year Of The Monkey.
Most days I get out of bed and do a lot of the self-care stuff without thinking about it, and it’s more or less the same with the regular tasks. But then sometimes I can go for days or even weeks when I struggle to do even basic things. If I manage to take my medication and change my underpants then I consider myself a high achiever.
Thing is, when my mental health improves, I can get the show back on the road very quickly now by virtue of having everything I need to do already written down.
The same process occurs during a typical day. I can lose several hours to dysphoric mania or elation some days. I used to feel overwhelmed by this and I’d just give in and right the day off. I no longer do that and feel I can get some creative work done every day.
It helps with procrastination by dealing with the it’s-never-the-right time-to-do-things issue.
I often revise the list throughout the day. As you may well have experienced, making lists can be enjoyable. It’s good to get stuff out of your head and feel that you’re in control of things.
The danger is that you can become more preoccupied with the list than doing things. But it’s unlikely, it’s not happened to me yet.
The overall effect has been to greatly increase my creative output and help me relax. I feel because I am getting more done, I can give myself time to float and do nothing. This helps lower background stress and reduces mood cycling.
I have put up the document as it is, without editing. There are various abbreviations etc. Just ignore them. You’ll get the general idea.
Aspirations (Microsoft Word)