Inspiration for Risking Change

Yes: I think that I succeeded because I have a diagnosis of SZ not in spite of it.

You have two options in how you respond to a diagnosis that could change your life plans:

Give up and buy what other people are selling: that there’s not much you can do.

Or like I did you can become more determined to defy everyone’s expectations.

That’s the difference: the diagnosis motivated me to try my best to succeed.

Before the diagnosis I always wanted to live an artist’s life in the city. After the diagnosis I quickly realized that I could do this because it was under my control whether I at least tried to do this.

As long as I gave my goals my best shot, it wouldn’t matter if I failed. The same goes for you. The only real failure is the failure to try.

As a kid, as a younger person, I lived on Staten Island–the borough where the cop killed Eric Garner in a choke-hold. It wasn’t the place I wanted to continue to live.

It was a world of white conformity in every way–devoid of color; devoid of culture.  I wanted to escape ever since I was in college.

After I was diagnosed I realized that if I acquiesced to the life plan I was being sold [collecting SSI forever and forced to live in public housing] I wouldn’t ever get out.

Take this tip from me as to what I did next:

I had the courage to risk change because I believed that tomorrow could be better.

Know this as I did then:

Whatever you want to do in life is under your control because it’s up to you to take action to try to get there. The choices you make today will help you get to where you want to be tomorrow.

Start your engines. The road is wide open.

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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.

Changeology

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.

 

Continuing in Recovery

The older you get in your life it’s possible to have a better recovery.

My point exactly is that engaging in goal-seeking behavior can make all the difference in the quality of your life.

God didn’t put me here on earth in this lifetime to judge anyone else. Yet it’s my philosophy that watching TV all day and isolating in your apartment can breed ill health.

The term “actively alone” I’ve coined to describe the benefit of doing positive healthy things–whether in your apartment cooking a meal or going to a coffeehouse to read a newspaper and drink a latte.

Sometimes all it takes is getting out of your house and your head to improve how you feel about yourself.

The further along you are in your recovery you can make new strides along the way. The goal is to not stop growing and improving. If you ask me staying in the same place mentally will lead to a stagnant life.

It’s January–which in my book is the perfect time to do early Spring Cleaning.

The first article I ever got published was in 1990 in the Women’s Forum of the Staten Island Advance newspaper. My article in appeared in January and was titled Time to Start Spring Cleaning.

Indeed–over and over through the years I’ve made the case in the blog for doing spring cleaning in January, in the actual spring,or at any time of the year.

Clearing the cobwebs out of your head as well as clearing items out of your closets is to me the perfect technique to segue into taking new risks.

Go at your own pace. Recovery is not a race nor is it a competition.

My friend and I count down the weeks to spring not the endless winter days. Right now there’s just over only nine weeks to spring.

Spring will be here in due season.

Using Lifelines Instead of Deadlines

I coined the term lifeline to describe the time frame one should use when setting goals.

Too often wanting or expecting to do something quickly leads to failure and thus feelings of low self-worth.

That’s a crummy way to keep living your life over and over: trying to hew to impossibly strict deadlines that even an Adidas champion couldn’t live up to.

For all of us it’s possible that faith and doubt battle it out in our minds. Which one will win today? Which one will win tomorrow?

It’s natural to doubt that you’ll ever be able to achieve the goals you set. Then when you don’t achieve a goal it’s a crushing defeat.

Use your doubt as the catalyst for envisioning what is possible. Think of the times where you doubted something in the past and it worked out just fine.

Instead each of us can set a lifeline in which to accomplish what we set out to. I’m not a big fan of five-year plans insofar as most of them take longer and that’s okay.

Isn’t it beautiful to know that we can be victorious down the road–not just today or tomorrow or a year from now?–we can be victorious five or ten or fifteen years from now.

That’s the beauty of having a lifeline to measure our ability to achieve a goal: we don’t have to give up just because the end isn’t in sight.

Oftentimes we need to come at our goal differently or change our goal when the original goal is no longer achievable.

Instead of throwing in the towel and extrapolating that “I’ll never be able to do anything I want”–we can frame it differently–“I can’t do this and have this thing yet if I research what I can do and have I can take different steps to get that.”

Faith and doubt are well-suited to be lifetime boxing partners.

I say: acknowledge the doubt and use it as a springboard. Be grateful when you’re able to have faith. Doubt shouldn’t be feared.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk more about the different types of goals.

New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t ever make New Year’s resolutions.

One thing I like to do in January is spring cleaning. It’s the perfect time to donate a bag of items to the Salvation Army or charity of your choice.

A person should set goals at the time in their life that it makes sense to do so not because of a date on the calendar like January 1st.

For instance I joined a gym in March–at the start of spring. Spring is the season of rebirth and rejuvenation so if you ask me this is a great time to start taking action to achieve a goal.

Too often New Year’s resolutions are too vague or broad like “I want to lose weight.” Why do you want to lose weight and how much did you want to lose and what are the steps (sub-goals) you will take to accomplish this?

A goal should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive. You should give yourself what I call a “lifeline” for achieving a goal not an impossibly restrictive deadline.

It’s not the end of the world if you don’t achieve a goal by the time you wanted to make it happen. In this case you might have to change your goal or change what you do to achieve the goal. Sometimes abandoning a goal is what really makes sense.

For instance I wanted to take up running and I didn’t ever do this which is fine. I wanted to travel to Barcelona and I haven’t done this either.

One goal I absolutely did do when I was a young woman was to lose 20 pounds when I was overweight. You can click on my Nutrition category and Fitness category to read about how I did this.

I will talk about goal setting next in the context of mental health treatment.

Really any “treatment plan” should be a collaborative effort between you and your treatment provider not a goal that the doctor or therapist unilaterally foists on you.