We're a little crazy, about science!

Return of the lazy goals

It’s the end of the term and that means two things. The first is that I no longer have to worry about classes. Actually that’s going to be a permanent shift now that I’m done with the required classes for my degree (aww yeah!), so that’s handy. The second is, of course, taking extra time to focus on my mental health. Hence what I like to call my lazy goals, because let’s face it, goal setting just feels like the adult way to make sure you’re relaxing the way you really want to.

My mental health is awful. Let’s just start there for anyone who’s new around here. I’ve had suicide attempts, spent more time than I like to admit in the psych ward at the VA, and I’ve used the veterans crisis line so many times I’m surprised they even take my calls anymore. Sure things are stable, or as stable as they can be for someone like me, but that’s because it takes work. Work in the form of doing the exact opposite of what the world wants me to do. I cope and I’ve gotten very good at coping. I do that by creating a somewhat complex system of behaviors that prioritize me.

I love making lists. I have a to-do list app on my phone and I routinely check things off of it, somedays as many as 50 or more things get checked off the list and some of them (most of them) are the more mundane things someone who isn’t falling apart on a regular basis does without much fanfare. Some of the things on my list include showering, brushing my teeth, cutting my hair (I do that myself, old military habit I guess), laundry, eating, taking my copious and somewhat hilarious amounts of medications, and things of that nature. I also have on my list daily reading, a check-in log where I keep track of my mental health, and most days even a relax task. Literally all it says is relax, sometimes just having a reminder helps.

Those are the day-to-day things that keep me sane(ish), but it isn’t enough. It helps me get through the day for the most part, but after a few months of struggling to keep on the narrow road I need to walk, I get tired. Life is a heavy burden and if you’ve experienced trauma you know what I mean. Thankfully the school schedule is broken up into terms with breaks after every few months. Summer and winter in particular, but spring break is a good chance to relax too, it’s just not long enough for anything serious. Winter break I get about a month and summer we get three so summer I make an extra effort to recharge and reset. To do that I invented the lazy goals (here’s last years).

In today’s society it’s work all day, every day. You’re celebrated if you pull 80 hour work weeks and people routinely share tips and tricks for managing your day with just four hours of sleep (or less, joy!). Well to ensure that I take the time for me and I take it properly, I’ve created a set of milestones I want to hit over the summer. Things that are just for me to relax. They have nothing to do with taking care of myself (IE shower, hair cut, etc.), they won’t help get me closer to my degree, and they won’t even benefit society. In short, these are things for me, by me, specifically to take care of me. But don’t worry you can do it too.

The idea is simple, set milestones for your “lazy goals.” Every summer I set at least a handful and I make them vague enough that they are easy to hit without stressing out about it. I mean if you don’t hit your goal, who cares? It was just for you, so don’t stress about it. Unless you find yourself not taking any time for yourself, it doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of lazy goals. They should be stress free and low stakes. I don’t use them to do anything particularly useful, I just use them to remind myself that selfcare is the most important thing you can be doing. With that let’s talk about my lazy goals for the summer.

1. Beat Mass Effect (now the legendary edition!)

That’s right, I got myself a gift just in time for the summer. The revamped Mass Effect just came out and I’ve already started playing my way through it. It’s awesome! I absolutely love what they did with the game. Every year I try to play through one of the games or on occasion multiple of them. The past year it was playing through Mass Effect Andromeda, which I rather enjoy. This year I’m planning on playing through the trilogy now that it’s been updated (or rather refreshed, it’s still the same game, just better graphics and physics). Again, low stakes stuff here and this will probably take the full summer if I pace myself right. If I don’t get through it all, well winter break isn’t that far off or I can try to make time during the term, but I have a good feeling I can get through it, even if I take my time.

2. Read

Sometimes the best goals are the simplest. I carve out time for reading daily (well nightly really). My goal this year is to read 30 books, I felt like 52 was just a little too much pressure, so I set the bar at 30. So far I’m 17 books into that goal and over the summer I take extra time during the day to just relax and escape into another world. I read the results from a poll that suggested most adults won’t even read one book in a year and I think that’s a little sad that we’ve forgotten how magical books can be. Maybe it’s the required reading trauma from school, or the stress of life, maybe people just genuinely don’t find joy in reading. Whatever the case, I absolutely love reading a good sci-fi and/or fantasy book. I’ve gotten through a whole lot of the classics already from Frankenstein (one of my very most favorites), the invisible man, journey to the center of the earth, the mysterious island (such a good book even though it’s super long), even Dracula (which was awful in my opinion). Basically all the books that gave us the pop culture references we have today. But since I’ve pretty much exhausted all those options, I’ve been reading more current works which has been a great change of pace. The point being, there are so many books out there it doesn’t feel possible to run out of books I feel that were written just for me and my tastes. I’m at 17 of 30 and by the end of summer I hope to be closer to 25 of 30.

3. Woodworking!

I love making things with my hands. I do a lot of work around the house over the summer. I find it incredibly relaxing and satisfying to do something in my home so I am able to point to it and say, “I made that!” Over the winter I made significant progress on a bathroom vanity (the thing that the sink sits on , here). It’s all handmade from wood, no screws, just wood glue and joinery. I need to stain/finish it and put it into the bathroom, but I was waiting for the summer to come along to finish it because I didn’t want to stain and seal it when it’s so wet out. So that should be done soon and I’ll probably be posting plenty of photos along the way since I’m really proud of it. I also plan (if funds allow) to build some shelving for the kitchen. That’s going to be a rather large project, but it would be a lot of fun (for me anyway) and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for awhile now. In either case, if I only get the vanity finished, I’ll call it a job well done and spend the rest of the year excited anytime I see it.

Well there you have it. I have three months (technically I think it’s like 3.5 months) and three goals. I didn’t have to do it that way, it just worked out that way. Since I have these laid out at the start of summer I can feel confident that I will hold myself to them. The point isn’t to make work for myself, but to force myself to take care of myself. Sometimes setting a firm goal and making a plan to accomplish it is the best way to force me to realize that prioritizing selfcare should be the normal thing to do. Do I really need to set goals to get this all done and remember to take time for myself? Probably not, but it doesn’t hurt.

This is my system, it may not work for everyone, but the idea is to throw it out there into the void and with any luck it will help someone, anyone come up with a system that will work for them.

These are my lazy goals, what about yours?

But enough about us, what about you?

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