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How to Actually Get Your Life Together

I have overcome many of life’s obstacles. In more than one way, I still am. However, I am of the mindset that while my life is not where I want it to be, I know I’ll be ok. Maybe it’s naive, but I like to have faith that I can have the life I want to live.

I wasn’t always of this mindset. When you’re in the deep end of depression and undiagnosed autism staying positive is closer to make-believe than a real possibility. Yet, somehow, I have reached a point where I am content, where I feel I actually have my life together. And those few missing pieces are gradually falling into place.

Make no mistake, having this kind of contentment and hope is not something that happens overnight. It has taken me years and many bumps along the way. And don’t get me wrong, I still have bad days, days where hope is nowhere to be found, but I recognize that these days are fleeting. They will pass.

Without further ado, here is how to actually get your life together (from someone who’s mostly figured it out).

Focus on the Present

A common trait amongst Autistic’s is that we can struggle with big picture thinking. A five year plan? A ten year plan? Out of the question. Who knows what could happen next month let alone a decade from now.

So, my first tip is to focus on the present. Ask yourself what needs to be accomplished today and only today.

This is where my journal comes into play. I have a future log, a monthly log, and then my daily spreads. If you’re trying to accomplish a long term goal, thinking only of today isn’t going to be of much benefit. This is why I use the future and monthly logs to break down large goals into daily practices. Now, I’ll admit I’m far from perfect with this practice, but when I can integrate it in, I do.

An Example

For example, I did Camp NaNoWriMo in July of 2021.

First I had to make sure I had an outline ready by the end of June. I worked through Katytastic's 3 Act/ 9 Block/ 27 Chapter Outline as well as some other free resources to get a better sense of my characters and setting. Since I thankfully wasn’t starting from scratch, this outline didn’t take me more than a day. However, I had to block out time to watch the videos and complete the worksheets. Thus, some of these tasks were recorded in the future log and then transferred to the monthly log when June rolled around.

Come July, I created a tracker in the monthly log to make sure I wrote every day. And I had to write 50,000 words in 30 days. So, each day, I set a goal of about 1700 words. I also made sure to write a task in my daily spread as that extra reminder.

The Point

The point is to break down large goals into smaller, daily tasks. It’s about focusing on what is in your control and combatting the lack of big picture thinking.

A daily spread helps you start fresh each day. It means when you have those bad days, it's ok, because you can just flip to the next page of your journal and start again.

Effectively Carry the Mental Load

As neurodivergent’s there’s usually a lot going on in our heads. It’s why I recommend journaling to just about everyone because it means letting go of some of that mental load and freeing up space in our minds.

There are a few ways this can be done to make our lives just a little bit easier.

Decision Making and Decision Fatigue

Firstly, we have to make a lot of decisions in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, there are only a certain amount of or substantial decisions we can make before we experience decision fatigue. This means we are too tired to make any more decisions - or at least any good ones. This is why it’s often recommended to plan your next day the night before or to choose your outfits ahead of time.

This is one of the reasons I jumped into minimalism and capsule wardrobes a few years ago. My closet is full of clothes that can mix and match. I can pick almost any top and bottom and build an outfit.

If you can limit your decision making in the morning it means you have just that bit more energy during the day for things like work or errands.

This is also why I like to rely on muscle memory and routines.

Routines and Rituals

Like most Autistic’s, I too love my routines. I eat the same thing for breakfast every day: cereal. Now, I have some choices as to which cereal I want, but I keep that within two or three options. The goal is to make as few decisions as possible so I have more energy and thinking space for work.

One of the other things I’ve noticed is that it is so ingrained in my routine to shower every morning, that I have to physically fight against that automatic urge if I skip a shower or plan to shower later. It’s the same muscle memory that has me grabbing a bowl from the cupboard every morning.

Again, it’s all going back to freeing up our mental load.

Habit Tracking

If we hop back to journaling, there are two things I recommend to free up that mental load.

The first is if you like to use a habit tracker, track only one to three habits a day in a single month. Any more is actually too overwhelming for the brain to handle and to actually complete.

The second is similar to the first, but instead of habit trackers, it’s signifiers. Keep journal signifiers between one and five. For example I use a dot for tasks and then I can make it an x or an arrow, or cross it out. Then I only use two signifiers: an exclamation point for ideas and inspiration and a star for any priority or important tasks.

Journaling is meant to lighten the mental load, not add so many little pieces to it that you can’t keep track of it all.

Brain Dumps and Long Form Journaling

I wasn’t going to touch on this since it’s talked about a lot already, but I figured I’d add it here anyway. Brain dumping and long form journaling are a way to unburden the mind. I know I’ve had days where there are so many things swirling around in my head and I can’t think straight because of it. These are the days where I feel I don’t know where to start.

So, I will write it all down. Whether that’s a bunch of random ideas for blog posts or stories or it’s something deeper such as an argument with my sister that I can’t stop thinking about. Whatever it is I get it down onto the page in full sentences or bullet points. Now, I can visually see what’s going on and can form a plan to move forward. I physically feel lighter after this, my mind clears.

Final Thoughts

As I said at the beginning, I’m not perfect, I’m still learning. This is simply what has worked for me. It may not work for you, or some of it will and some of it won’t. Either way I hope you have gained something from this post about how to simplify your life so you can clear your mind and focus on your goals.

Thank you for reading all the way to the end, I know this was a lone one! There are still some things I’d like to add to this topic, but I’ll cover it in another post so be on the lookout for that.

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