The first goal I ever had was to achieve a perfect score in gym class when I was a freshman in high school.

I could barely do 10 sit-ups in one minute. The highest possible score was to do 50 sit-ups in one minute. Shortly after, I could do 50 sit-ups in one minute.

I make the case for engaging in goal-directed behavior when you’re newly-diagnosed with schizophrenia bipolar or another mental illness.

No one should have to languish for years and years in mental distress and emotional hell before they get better.

Hell-and-heartache doesn’t have to be the norm for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia. You don’t have to keep revolving in and out of hospitals. You don’t have to spend your life on back wards.

Setting goals is the secret to getting your life back on track without any unnecessary delay.

I’m a fan of resilience: moving quickly into having as normal a life as you possibly can. To have a life where you can go to school or have a job and live in your own apartment. Not a life where you’re strung along for years and years in a day program with no progress in sight.

Indeed, time-sensitive rehabilitation has always been thought to be the better option. You don’t want to lose hope because there are endless hoops that you have to jump through higher and higher just to get halfway to where others are.

I’m grateful to the person who reviewed my memoir Left of the Dial for the NAMI Advocate newsletter that arrived in this month to members.

The reviewer noted I had “ambition.” As true as that statement was, I find though that if I didn’t have a mental illness, wanting to have a full-time job and live in my own apartment would be seen as ordinary not ambitious.

I hope that one day achieving our goals as individuals diagnosed with mental illnesses is seen as natural, ordinary, and possible. Not as an impossible feat.

I urge everyone reading this blog to shoot for the stars and settle for the moon if you must. Sometimes, getting to the moon is perfectly fine.

It’s 2015: high time-and the tide has come in high-for individuals with mental illnesses to take risks to do whatever it is we want to achieve in life.

Traveling to the South of France? Publishing a book? Becoming a tax accountant? Having a gallery showing in SoHo?

Yes. Yes. And Yes to all that.

I dream a day when all of this is hardly unusual.

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