Setting Lifelines Not Deadlines

I talk about this more in Flourish: the beauty of setting lifelines not deadlines.

Using the term deadline indicates there’s an end: a result you achieve that is the end, that the process is over at a certain point in time.

This isn’t helpful because often people set goals that are restrictive, impossible to achieve because the deadline is too soon. Rome isn’t built in a day, neither are goals completed quickly. Nothing worth having comes without effort.

You can’t undo years of personal neglect in two or three months and then quit. Goal-seeking behavior is a lifestyle not an endpoint, so to keep striving to maintain health is imperative.

The gym has a whiteboard in the entrance foyer. Every week a new quote is written down. Last week the whiteboard proclaimed: “Don’t seek to be skinny by Tuesday. Strive to be fit. Fitness is forever.”

It’s true: setting a strict deadline to live up to demoralizes you, sets you up to fail. It’s better to remember that changing your life is a long-term process. It starts one habit at a time. Then you change another behavior. And so on.

It takes kindness and patience on the road to a new you. Focus on what you did do instead of what you couldn’t do. Cheer yourself on for pounding the treadmill 2 times instead of beating yourself up for not doing it 4 times.

I suspect a lot of goals people set aren’t based in science. Read the book Changeology by John C. Norcross because he details a scientifically-proven method of changing, a technique to make lasting changes.

We need to remember that it’s not ever too late in life to change something we’re not happy about, either an aspect of our lives or about ourselves. Completing one goal should not be the end; it should be the stepping-stone to other goals.

That’s why the mantra “Fitness is Forever” sums it up well: change is a process, and it’s not the result that counts.

The first part is the hardest. It’s often 80 percent mental, 20 percent the action: in terms of achieving success.

So: set a lifeline, not a deadline.

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School is Cool

As hard as it can be, I recommend that a person with a mental illness who’s attending school follows through with getting a four-year degree.

Seek help at the mental health center on campus, get involved with ActiveMindss on campus, join a club.

Do what it will take to graduate even if you don’t have a high GPA at the end.

At University, I was a disc jockey at WSIA, 88.9 FM the college radio station. The two years I was an on-air personality were the happiest time of my young life. It made the prodrome easier to go through because I sought help and and no one I talked to could help me. So I had to do things on my own in college.

I’m certain that since this was in the 1980s things must surely have changed and that there is help for individuals attending school who have mental health challenges.

Log on to StrengthOfUs if you’re under 30 for resources if you’re a young adult with a mental illness.

It gets better. It truly does get better living with a diagnosis.

There’s nothing to feel guilty or ashamed about having a diagnosis.

My stance is that a young person shouldn’t get side-tracked into a long-term (over one year) traditional kind of rehabilitation program.

Going to college or getting trained for a job is in my estimation a better activity.

School is Cool.

Goal Setting

Engaging in goal-seeking behavior in recovery as in life is the secret to being successful in having the kind of life you want.

Achievements are something to work towards not wait for. Wishing for things to happen won’t magically make the results appear.

This is the number-one reason I recommend writing down goals and reviewing them as often as you feel you need to. Do two things each day to advance yourself in the direction of your dream(s).

A reputable female researcher suggests a person should set challenging goals to have the best chance of obtaining them. Framing in your mind an outcome that is easy to achieve makes you less likely to take repeated action to go for it.

I recommend starting out by obtaining an easy win only because for most people diagnosed with schizophrenia there might have been so few wins in their life before they got sick. Once you rack up this win, you can act resilient to set goals slightly beyond your reach.

It’s your choice whether you keep your goal(s) private or share them with a trusted friend or family member. Either way is fine whatever you decide.

The key is to not quit. Setbacks are often only temporary on the road to long-term success.

Often a dream is no more than an intention you tell yourself in the quiet of your own head. The intention takes on a force of its own and your thoughts start to rumble, urging you on because to not do what you want to do isn’t acceptable anymore.

Try. And try again if you don’t succeed.

It took me 10 years to be able to publish my memoir.

No kidding.

WordPress Site

I’ve created this WordPress site to better organize the themes from the Left of the Dial blogger account.

The Flourish page details information from my two non-fiction recovery books.

The Left of the Dial page excerpts scenes from my memoir and continues to be the source of upbeat, optimistic posts.

The Reviews page is the place for the ongoing book reviews and other reviews about things such as DVDs and other blogs.

I expect to fine-tune the writing here at the WordPress site to be consistent in when I post.

I strive to post on the Flourish page on Monday and Thursday. I strive to publish on the Left of the Dial page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I strive to post on the Reviews page at least once a week.

As always:

I’m happy to read your comments.

Overcoming Doubt: Put Your Binders On

This blog will talk about techniques in my book.

I wanted to detail using binders. You can put your blinders on in a good way to be blind to the self-doubt that comes on.

The doubt will come on as surely as church bells chime out every hour in some places. The self-doubt is a part of life. To overcome doubt I recommend using binders to store information on different topics to keep you armed with hope and faith that you can do what you want to do.

I have binders for goals, recipes, fitness and fashion. The fashion binder is a look book of magazine photos I’ve torn out to refer to for possible outfits to create. The fitness binder contains Internet print-outs on health and nutrition. The goals binder documents the things I want to achieve throughout my life.

In Flourish I detail a specific strategy for setting goals.

I recommend using binders because they’re handy reference tools for quickly getting information at your fingertips to help you succeed in life.

Buy the ones with clear sleeves on the front and back so that you can insert inspirational quotes on the covers to read to be uplifted. Get tabbed dividers to section out each sub-topic.

I will talk shortly in the Reviews section of my WordPress site about a magazine that’s nifty for finding information to place in binders.

Each of us can use our doubt as a motivating force to be resilient and tackle new goals. Using the binders can help in this regard.

I’d love to hear from others who might use this technique. Has it worked for you? What else can you recommend?

Yes You Can

My goal is to uplift and inspire readers that you can go to school or work and have a good life even though you live with a mental health challenge.

For those of us who are able to do this I offer hope because I’ve seen with my own eyes what’s possible.

One of my favorite quotes is from the Adidas store marquee on Lower Broadway in Manhattan: Impossible is Nothing. It’s a riff on challenging yourself to do what seems impossible, as if doing it is a piece of cake.

It’s not a piece of cake. Yet it can be done. As hard as life can get living with a mental health condition, it can be a good life often a better life at the same time.

In August 1990 I obtained a job as an administrative assistant to the director at an insurance firm. This was unheard of: for a person diagnosed with schizophrenia to be employed at any kind of job.

This risk paid off and I’ve been employed at jobs ever since.

That’s how I firmly believe if you want to go to school or get a job you deserve to try. A fortune cookie implores: “There is no shame in failure, only in quitting.”

It might take trying on different school majors or types of jobs before you’re able to find the one that’s a right fit with your personality and talents and what you’d like to do.

At HealthCentral, the editors cribbed something I wrote: “The only real failure is the failure to try.”

You can believe in yourself when others don’t. You can dare risk trying to do something and see how it goes. If at first you don’t succeed, you can try it a different way or change the goal to achieve something different.

Risking change can be scary. It can bring on self-doubt. That’s OK. Doubt can be a force that motivates you more so than a fear that deters you. Accept that the doubt will come on and remember the other times you tried to do something new and were successful.

If you haven’t tried this before, you might start out with a goal you can achieve and then progressively set the bar higher as you go along.

I’ll end here with the motto of Olympic champion Gabby Douglas:

“Dream. Believe. Achieve.”

This is easier said than done so my two books will give strategies for how to do this.

I can think of no better motto.

Platform

My author bio lists my platform credentials.

I will shortly publish a book about how to flourish living with a mental illness.

I’m keeping a lot of it under wraps until early fall when my literary agent pitches the book to editors at publishing houses.

Expect a book that’s a game changer in the recovery field.

I’ve created this WordPress blog as the forum to write about the topics in the three books I will publish shortly.

My web designer is fine-tuning this blog so that I can have headers that link to blog entries on the topics of Left of the Dial, Flourish and Reviews.

Left of the Dial will offer excerpts from my memoir that goes on sale at the latest on December 1st.

Stay tuned for these exciting developments.