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.

2017 Blog Topics

Each of us needs to be able to advocate for ourselves.

We need to dialogue with our treatment providers and to research, research, research our options.

In January I’d like to talk about goal-setting in here: the effective antidote to making New Year’s resolutions that don’t stick.

Setting treatment goals and setting life goals is something under our control.

It makes sense that we’re the only ones who at the end of the day have command over the goals we set.Our family our shrink and our therapist can and should be our most integral allies in helping us achieve our goals.

As peers too we should all be cheering each other on.

We should be happy when one of us is successful and sad when one of us has a setback. Yet either way the goal is to offer feedback and encouragement and–always–hope.

What zings you as something you’d truly passionately want to do and to achieve in 2017?

I recommend that all the ladies out thereĀ  buy the Michelle Phan book Makeup: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success Online and Off.

Her book is written in an inspiring and down-to-earth voice. She’s still younger yet I’ve enjoyed reading her book.

I’m going to quote Michelle Phan so that hopefully you’ll go out and get the book:

“I didn’t want a safety net under me. I wanted to force myself to make this work.”

Working longer and harder to achieve a goal is often necessary for those of us living in recovery. Yet giving up or not even trying to begin with isn’t the answer.

We can give each other the hope that with courage, strength, and confidence we’ll be able to have our own version of a full and robust life.

For some of us that’s going to be going grocery shopping instead of going to McDonald’s. For others it’s going to be applying to college and taking one or two courses a semester.

Stay tuned for blog entries on goal-setting in January.