We provide clients with a “Goal Setting” handout (attached to this email) which is designed to help identify areas which could stand to be improved in one’s life. Mostly, we tend to see our lives as one big ball of twine and change looks far too complicated to untangle.
The result is, overwhelmed, we do nothing.
However, it is a lot easier to instill change if we break our lives down into manageable categories: health, home, work, social preferences, spiritual preferences and so on. It is easier to rework your life if you don’t try to see it as a whole but rather as a series of over-lapping circles. For example: health: overweight 15lbs; physical no exam for 10 years, vision declining in right eye, recreation: drinking; social life: drinking; education: not since high school; etc.
One thing that happens when you do this exercise is that it becomes apparent where the hopes are and what you could stand to address, in what order, as well as which areas can be skipped. The other interesting exercise is for you and a spouse, partner, friend or other significant person to each fill one our independently and then compare, one area every week or two, and see where and how you can be mutually supportive.
Yes, most things go better with mutual support, but that doesn’t mean becoming bogged down in an exploitive cult. Beware of that oft recommended trap.
Part of the point is to reduce change to a manageable size and rate. Let’s look at a concrete example.
Alcohol is a depressive, meaning the more you consume the more artificially depressed you become. Activity is a natural antidepressant, meaning the more active you are, the less depressed you will be. Soooo, if you decrease your consumption, and increase doing stuff the benefit is doubled: Drink more, become more depressed, drink even more, become even more depressed is a typical downward spiral. However, it does reverse: drink less, do more, feel less depressed and more like doing more which makes you less depressed and so on.
None of this is magic and, yes, it takes some effort on your part which is why people tend to go to “programs” which promise dramatic result with zero effort. That also explains why they have a planned 95% failure rate.
An Altered Mind Set
This won’t be the first time I’ve taken you on a trip down “Tobacco Road” (also one of the first “dirty” books I found on my older brother’s book shelves, Erskine Caldwell the author, also “God’s Little Acre” and “A Swell Lookin’ Girl”) but I’ll stick to the nicotine laced cigarette version.
Nicotine is far and away the most addictive drug discovered to date. People tend to use it for 40 years before quitting (or dying) where the alcohol use tends to have a 20 year expiration date and illegal drugs about 10. Yet no one goes off to Nicotine Rehab, or if they do it’s a self-designed retreat to somewhere like Canyon Ranch.
No, folks who’ve decided to quit smoking don’t go to dreary meeting in church basements and talk about “ain’t it awful,” and expect that to work.
We ex-smokers know we’re going to be miserable for awhile, replace the benefits of smoking (of which there are many), change habits, and so on. We don’t count days, at least not after the first couple of weeks, and, most importantly, we usually say, “I kicked the habit.”
What? No disease? No powerlessness? No higher power? No sponsor? No trinkets or tokens or bumper stickers? How can that work?
But, of course, it does. It’s called taking responsibility for one’s choices – a concept anathema to Steppers, but one embraced by anyone who makes a significant change in their life. You can do it and a bit of short term help just makes it a little easier and more certain.