My Forum Comments
I went through something similar two years ago. I didn’t have a partner to provide structure with their commitments, so I was really floating about in all that time.
I started by setting up meetings, courses or events I ‘had’ to attend and built accountability and structure back into my week. Here’s what I did based on my hobbies and interests.
I signed up for a class at the community college. The hard part was picking just one. I knew that if I immediately signed up to several I would end up not going to any of them. So I picked a tai-chi class, because I would get some gentle movement, enjoy being in a group without having to tell my life-story or listen to someone else’s for 90 minutes.
I’d recommend picking something ‘super-easy’ to attend. Something where even if you’re low on energy and it’s raining and so on, you’d still manage to get up and attend.
For my personal well-being I need to feel I serve some purpose. I registered with a local charity supporting the elderly, because I’d been dealing with my elderly parents and hoped it’d bring me some insights. I also wanted to spend time with my dog. Fortunately,I was able to combine the two by visiting an elderly house-bound person once a week with the dog (zen-master poodle). Our role was to be their guests for 60-90 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised to realise that all they really wanted was to be seen and listened to, really listened to. They become more animated and happier looking. It is very gratifying to see that simply by being myself, I can bring some cheer. Knowing how they look forward to our visits, reinforces my commitment to keeping the date.
With that, I had 2 days/ week that were ‘planned’ months in advance. It still felt very ‘open’ and unstructured. So, to that I added dog school. It meant I was doing something with the dog, out in nature in any weather, somewhat active with a group of like-minded people, who don’t mind if you go on forever about your dog (chatty cathy adhd).
The weekly meetings are always outside and structured by the trainer. All I have to do is show up. When you know your dog is going to do stupid & disgusting stuff inside your home, “stuff” that you’re going to have to clean up, if he doesn’t get him enough mental and physical stimulation….you go to dog school.
I put those three dates into my smartphone datebook for the rest of the year. Then if a friend calls up, I’ll arrange a meeting outside those times and organise it so I know I won’t be in overwhelm, well most of the time. This has allowed me to ‘hang’ extra outings etc onto the 3 fixed dates. This number of fixed dates works for me, I don’t feel ‘hemmed in’ because it leaves a good amount of time to fill spontaneously.
One year, I also went on an organised, almost-all inclusive bus tour for a week. That way I finally visited places I’d been meaning to, but hadn’t because my energy tanked every time I thought of all the decisions and steps I’d need to take before going.
I like learning new things, so I also signed up for online courses. That didn’t work out too well because regardless of whether they were free or expensive, super interesting or mildly so, it was much tol easy to ‘forget’ the online lesson that day and tell myself, I’d read up the next day to catch up. I inevitably dropped out. One online course I finished because it kept me accountable and structured included live real-time interactive video filming. There were only about 10 – 15 people online at one time, all with their webcams turned on. So if you dozed off, left your seat, were interrupted by someone walking in etc, *everyone* in the group saw it. It’s way easier to doze off in class, when the only person facing 300 students is the teacher :)!
Here’s to finding the right mix of structure and spontaneity! Good luck!