Choosing Goals

It’s clear to me that you and I won’t succeed if we succumb to thinking we have to do what other people tell us is the only right thing to do.

It’s 2017 and we have more and better options for living in recovery.

You’re only going to make yourself miserable and have ill health pretending to be someone you’re not just so you can please other people.

We should not be puppets–either of our government or of anyone else who attempts to pull the strings to get us to conform to a so-called norm.

We will only succeed if we are invested in the goals we set and have the starring role in deciding what we want to do with our lives.

When a person says another person has a ton of self-determination that really means that this individual had the courage to go after getting what they wanted without being deterred by whatever obstacle they faced.

Self-determination sounds like a fancy word however as I define it it’s simply the right of everyone living on earth to determine how they want to live their life and the direction they want to go in in their life.

No other person should be telling us what to do without soliciting our feedback on this course of action. Any treatment plan needs to be created with our input.

Choosing our goals should be up to us first of all. Yet really we shouldn’t set the bar so high that we can only fail. The dilemma is that historically for people diagnosed with mental health conditions the bar wasn’t set at all. We weren’t expected to be able to do much of anything.

2017 is here. It’s time to challenge this status quo. It’s time to speak out on the things that matter to us.

I say: engaging in goal-seeking behavior can make all the difference in a person’s recovery.

Choose your goals with care and attention. Choose goals that make sense to you.

Discarding Goals

I firmly believe that everyone living on earth has the potential to do some kind of work.

For one person this might simply be doing volunteer work or working on their recovery. For another person yes this could be getting a JD.

We are not to frown on those of us who are less fortunate than we are in this regard.

In two months I’ll be 52 years old–and the older I get it’s become imperative to prioritize what I want to do. You too will turn 52 hopefully at some point if you haven’t gotten here now. Prioritizing goals at mid life is the way to go.

In keeping with setting priorities each of us should know that it’s okay to discard a goal or goals that don’t have the chance to be achieved.

At 52 life is getting shorter thus the requirement of choosing wisely what we focus on.

At 52 I’ve discarded a number of goals that used to burn brightly in my mind as things I really really wanted to do in my fifties.

You like I did will plan at 40 what you want to do in the future. Yet the view is different 12 years later at 52. Thus the beauty of discarding goals that weren’t meant to be.

This doesn’t mean you’ve failed just because you’ve quit wanting to do something. You can only fail at something you’ve actually done that didn’t turn out right. You can’t have failed if what you wanted to do you didn’t try to do to begin with.

Bingo–that’s the difference in succeeding at goal-setting–especially at mid life. When we give up focusing on one thing we can replace it with another thing.

Recovery is the gift of a lifetime that we give ourselves in which to heal and be whole and well and happy.

We cannot rush or cut corners when it comes to achieving our life goals. Better to have entertained a goal or two and not acted on it than to sit home throwing ourselves a pity party and not even trying to set a goal because we think we can’t.

Banish the word “can’t” from your vocabulary I tell you. Replace it with “I’m willing to try to see if I can do this.” That’s more like it even if not everything we try will always work out.

I want to continue to talk about setting goals. What I’ve written here is the short version. A book years ago was published that talked about the benefit of quitting.

The difference is: quit when it’s not to your advantage to continue. Persist when the goal is so life-changing that to not risk trying to achieve it would fill you with regret at “what might have been.”

The quote is: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

The view from the cusp of 52 is grand.


I’m in the middle of getting my second non-fiction book ready to publish soon. I hope to be able to publish this book within two years from now.

For now I would like to talk again about goal-setting.

It’s going to be spring soon and I think new season is the perfect time to make changes.

To this end I’d like to recommend a book–Changeology–about setting and achieving goals.

It’s a 5-Step process that has been scientifically documented in research as being effective in getting results.

The only drawback I find to the book is that it focuses only on changing negative behaviors like smoking and drinking and bad parenting.

You CAN use the book to create other behavior changes that are positive. You just won’t find your particular behavior talked about in the book. Yet you can still use this proven 5-Step process to execute change.

Using this system might indeed help a person stop smoking or drinking or overeating or whatever their unproductive habit is.

I will continue to talk about goal-setting in here in the coming blog entries.


Yes You Can

I’ve changed the quote at the top right of this blog.

Years ago circa 1989 when I was shunted into the day program a woman I met told me: “Not a lot of people with a disability could do what you do.”

It’s true that I took offense at this because I thought it was possible to do these things.

As of today the proof that Yes You Can really is that we are “individuals” living with a mental health challenge. Not “consumers” or “schizophrenics” or any other label.

Each of us has the potential to do the things that give us joy and happiness. Each of us has the potential to heal and have optimal mental health. Each of us has the potential to flourish doing what we love.

Harboring jealousy at other people isn’t the way to live our lives.

Today in 2017 I can adamantly rebut that woman’s decades-ago comment with this:

You don’t have to become an Ivy League lawyer or a famous writer to get on with  a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life after you receive your diagnosis.

That’s the distinction I’ve always made in the various incarnations of my blog:

Often our internal roadblocks limit us more than external factors.

The goal I dare say is to be happy and healthy–that’s the true aim of living in recovery.

Each of us gets to define what happy and healthy looks like for us in our own lives.

Again it goes back to what I’ve written about self-stigma. If you’re trashing yourself or someone else because they’re a cashier in Rite Aid, that’s NOT right.

The woman who commented to me that way in the mists of time was an exceptional baker. She could cook like you wouldn’t believe.

So if you are a creative chef creating culinary wonders that’s your version of happy and healthy.

I thought about this woman’s comment today because I was talking with my literary agent who’s as visionary as I am in championing mental health.

Years ago when I first started blogging I had the audacity to claim that most people could recover and go on to have your own version of a full and robust life.

Frankly I’m tired of so-called experts claiming that no one can recover. I’m tired of getting attacked because I choose to focus on on the positive instead of dwelling on symptoms and lack and deficits.

The point is: if you can bake a souffle you’ve got that over me.

Any questions?


You shouldn’t ever apologize for your existence.

You shouldn’t feel that your diagnosis limits you forever.

I coached a guy who found out one of his top forty careers might be a race car technician.

I’m going to be excoriated for telling readers that we can’t always listen to what so-called experts advise us is the right thing to do.

They haven’t met us and aren’t living our lives. Only you and I know what’s the right thing to do on any given day.

You’re an equal partner with your treatment provider(s). You deserve and have the right to have input into the decisions being made about your life.

Today circa 2017 we have more options and better options for what we can do in recovery. If no option exists, you can create an option for yourself.

The Aveeno skincare advertisement gets it right: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Each of us can create a life of our own design.

It’s our right to be self-advocates. You aren’t any longer relegated to being a passive recipient of services.

That’s why I always detested using the word consumer to describe a person. You consume soft drinks. You don’t consume healthcare.

I’m going to end here with this:

You diagnosis doesn’t limit your choices forever.

Yes you can.


Cigarette Smoking

We should each of us love each other and protect each other and our planet.

It’s because I care about everyone living on earth that I implore readers of my blog to resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

I’ve always detested cigarette smoking. From the time I was a young kid–easily only nine years old or so–I’ve detested cigarette smoking.

My mother and my aunts–her sisters–smoked two packs a day for forty years. No surprise–they now sleep and travel everywhere with oxygen tanks and use inhalers.

I judge no one living on earth. Good people often make the choice to start smoking cigarettes. Illness doesn’t discriminate–it strikes good people as well as evil people.

You will become disabled if you smoke cigarettes.

You’ll have to sleep and travel with an oxygen tank. If you care about vanity, and choose to smoke, you’ll get wrinkled early and lose your looks and have yellow teeth. Chances are, you’ll lose your teeth at some point and need false teeth.

If you do only one positive thing in your life and nothing else quit smoking if you’ve already started. Only doing this–quitting smoking–is the best thing you could ever do.

I’m losing my aunt now after losing my father to colon cancer in 2015. It’s unimaginable yet true–a good person taken out because she smoked cigarettes for 40 years.

You’ll think it’s over if you’re 60 and quit smoking yet you’ll remain in compromised health forever. Fare better to quite smoking at 30 than to smoke for your whole life. Yet I implore you to quit now even if you’re 60.

I don’t take this lightly. I don’t care if a person wants to stay at home watching TV all day. I don’t care if a person chooses jealousy or hate over love. I don’t care how anyone else lives their life.

I do care about health. I care that everyone living on earth has the chance to be healthy. I care that good people make bad choices.

It’s because I’ve seen the perils in my own family of smoking cigarettes that I implore readers now: resist the urge to start smoking cigarettes.

You don’t deserve to be hooked up to tubes, comatose, and barely breathing after you have an operation.

You don’t deserve to have limited romantic choices because no one wants to date a smoker.

You don’t deserve to add a smoking-related disability to the mental health disability you already have.

You deserve to have a long, healthy, prosperous life.

You deserve to meet the man or woman of your dreams.

You deserve to save money on your healthcare.

After all, why not make yourself rich instead of making Phillip Morris rich?

It’s something to think about dear readers.

If you smoke, the people who care about you are living in pain watching you make yourself ill. You’re not the only one you’re hurting by making yourself ill. Those of us who watch you light up are in agony too.

We care a lot.

I care and I haven’t even met you.

I’ll end here with the hope that you can read what I’ve written and take it seriously.

Numerous options exist for helping you quit.

You might not stay quit and it could take a couple of times.

Yet now is the right time to try.

I’m rooting for you dear readers.