Managing Setbacks

My first personal trainer left the gym to open his own boutique fitness center.

I signed up for his e-mail newsletter. In it he wrote that setbacks are to be expected.

On some days you don’t have it in you to go at full speed. Hitting your target goal might not happen.

This is where it’s imperative to remember that a slip-up in the short-term doesn’t matter.

Think in terms of the long view. It’s how you respond to a setback that determines whether you succeed in the end. Not the slip-up itself.

Remember to be critical of the behavior and not of yourself. People who blame themselves for a setback often don’t recover. Blaming yourself is a recipe for remaining stuck.

One thing matters most: having the sense that you have control.

Not allowing yourself to be blown around by the wind like a weather vane.

My mother keeps reminding me that I lost 20 pounds when I was younger. She keeps telling me that I was round and chubby [her word] when I first started taking medication. She refers to the fact that I decided to see a nutritionist. The woman was an M.D. with a private practice in nutrition.

The moral of this story is: you don’t have to accept a setback and give up and do nothing.

Resilience is called for. The ability to bounce back from a setback. Successful New Year’s resolution setters in the Changeology book viewed a slip-up as temporary. They recommitted to changing their behavior.

They viewed the setback as an opportunity to strengthen their commitment. They saw it in a positive light forgave themselves and learned from the experience.

Step 3 Perspire lasts at least 6 weeks. I’ve ended the first 3 weeks of this Step. For 3 weeks in a row I’ve been able to carry out my goal.

In coming weeks I’ll talk about Step 4 – Persevere.

Just remember: a setback isn’t the end of what you can do.

It’s temporary. And should your original goal not work out at all that’s when choosing to do something different can make all the difference.

I like to quote the Ulta advertisement: the Possibilities are Beautiful.

There is no one right road to go down in your life.

I will talk in more detail about resilience in the future.

Step 3 – Perspire

The goal I set was to use my paycheck to buy food and basic needs.

In Step 3 Perspire of the Changeology 90-Day Action Plan you use 4 techniques to carry out your goal:

Rewarding.

You reward yourself for having achieved what you set out to.

To do this I bought myself a Revlon lipstick.

Countering

You do the healthy opposite of the negative behavior.

To do this I have cut down buying extra things.

Controlling the Environment

“Out of sight out of mind” sums up this approach.

When I wanted to stop wearing jeans to my job all the time I took the jeans and placed them in an out-of-the-way storage rack.

Today it’s easier to achieve my current goal because I’m not shopping in stores.

Enlisting Support

You ask people to be part of your support team. They can help you stay on track with your goal.

One of my friends and my therapist I talk with every week.

I have the goal of publishing a book about personal finance. I will write in this blog and in the forthcoming book about setting a financial goal like the one I’m executing now.

Living through the pandemic is the perfect time to cut down on spending.

A lot of us are forced to conserve cash because we lost our jobs. For others we’re at the time in our lives where we’re able to shift our focus to a goal like this.

I will be reporting back in the coming weeks how I’m coming along in Step 3.

My 90-Day Goal

In coming weeks I will return to talking about careers.

For now I want to use this time to explore topics and themes that can serve as the gateway to career success.

Living through the pandemic a lot of us have had to put our big goals on hold.

I would say that to feel productive in a time like this you can engage in a garden-variety self-improvement project.

This is what I’m doing using the Changeology 90-Day Action Plan. To recap each step:

Step 1: Psych

Step; 2: Prep

Step 3: Perspire

Step 4: Persevere

Step 5: Persist.

The goal you set should be S.M.A.R.T: Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant and Time-Specific.

From my own experience I’ve seen it’s better to set goals in a stair-step progression from easier to achieve to harder to obtain.

I’m in Step 3 of my goal. Step 3 lasts at least 6 weeks according to the Changeology book.

I started to execute the new behavior on June 1, 2020 of this month. For the last two weeks I’ve been successful. I will continue with Step 3 through July 2020 of this year.

My plan of publishing the Working Assets book will take longer to come to fruition.

For now I will use this blog as the medium for giving readers information culled from my work as a career services librarian.

In this blog I will show readers what I’ve done to empower you to take action in your own life.

Take what’s helpful and change and modify what I talk about to suit your own needs.

Everything I write has been road-tested by me. There’s nothing controversial about what I’m writing.

The difference is I’m catering to a target market that no one else sees as being a target market to begin with.

I’m giving readers competitive information.

If you ask me engaging in goal-seeking behavior can give your life meaning and purpose during a time like the pandemic.

It’s a great way to feel better about yourself and to feel productive.

Just remember: a big goal might have to be put on hold.

Yet any kind of self-improvement project can benefit a person at any time in their life.

Getting in Gear with a “Career”

Once I read from my memoir Left of the Dial at an event for peers and family members.

The host was raffling off 10 copies of my book for audience members to win.

To my delight one peer who won a free copy of the memoir had told me they liked reading inspirational stories. They had told me this at the start of the event even though they didn’t have a job.

At the end the peer won a copy of Left of the Dial.

I talk about this because the idea of what constitutes a “career” is open for interpretation.

Decades ago in the now-defunct SZ magazine that I wrote a column for there was an article on what you could do when you have negative symptoms of schizophrenia and couldn’t hold a job.

To wit:

You could bake cakes. You could play guitar in a band. You could go to a coffee shop for breakfast and have a latte and read the newspaper.

Having worked with a person who didn’t have a mental illness [and who was rude and hostile] I can tell you that it’s possible for anyone with a pulse to get a job.

Having a job or not having a job is NO indicator of a person’s worth.

It’s why in my original Flourish blog I sang the praises of Rite Aid cashiers.

Those cashiers bust themselves standing up every day for hours ringing up orders.

I refuse to use the automatic payment machine to check out items on my own at Rite Aid.

I don’t want the cashiers to lose their jobs to a machine.

Every day for years and years Rite Aid cashiers have been ringing people up with a smile. For years and years it’s the same cashiers.

For some of us our recovery is a full-time job. Managing our mental health should be the prime focus.

My contention has always been from the very start of my advocacy efforts that I recovered because I had first found the job I love.

I didn’t find this job after I had recovered. It was the other way around–I make this distinction–finding the job I love enabled me to recover.

This is why we need to expand the definition of a “career” for the purposes of recovery.

A multitude of career options exist in the world for everyone living here.

Should my rude and hostile coworker have been exalted because he has a job? While a mental health peer who is compassionate is looked down on because they don’t have a job?

Exactly.

In coming blog entries I”m going to talk more about goal-setting.

About how engaging in goal-seeking behavior–regardless of whether your goal is to get a job publish a book or go on vacation–can make all the difference in how good you feel.

Thoughts on Goal-Setting

In the New York Times circa a year or two ago Venus Williams the champion tennis player wrote an article about goal-setting.

To this day I remember her wise words about the topic.

Venus said she would ask herself: “Do you feel good?”

In the time of living through the pandemic my goals have been put on hold. As most likely other people’s goals are beyond reach right now for a lot of us.

Venus was prescient then in shifting the needle in terms of what constitutes success and achievement.

Taking inspiration from this star athlete I too ask myself: “Do you feel good?” and “How do you feel about what you’re doing right now?”

In 2002 I first started my “career” as a mental health advocate. So for going on over 18 years I’ve been talking about my recovery.

My aim has always been to empower peers that you can have your own version of a full and robust life living in recovery.

In a coming blog entry I’m going to riff on the idea that what constitutes a “career” is different for each of us.

Having been around the block in recovery I’ve come to want to talk about next-level ideas I have.

Along with Venus Williams I think the endpoint is irrelevant.

You might have a JD and be miserable and unfulfilled at your attorney job. Maybe it’s the kind of career you thought you originally wanted.

Or maybe you don’t have a professional job. Or have no job right now. You might just want pointers about living life in recovery.

Living through the pandemic I’m confident that this has been a trial and a challenge for everyone.

Like Venus I think feeling good should be the ultimate barometer of whether you’re happy with how your life is right now.

Goals can wait. Sometimes they must wait.

Next in the blog: getting in gear with the “career” that’s right for you.

Changeology 90-Day Action Plan

I’m a big fan of the Changeology 90-day action plan for achieving goals.

Using the 5 steps I have achieved a number of goals:

  1. Stopped wearing jeans to my job all the time.
  2. Started wearing makeup more often.
  3. Cooked my own dinners every week.

The Changeology book website has useful resources and worksheets.

Alas I did not get a response when I submitted a message via the contact form on this website.

Other than this I recommend the 90-day action plan.

Taking a Detour

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic I want to talk about taking a detour.

My life didn’t get better until I turned 35 and started my library job.

Shunted into the mental health system early in my recovery I was forced to take a detour.

Let me tell you a detour is not a dead-end. It’s a pit stop along the way to a different path.

Maybe you’re not supposed to get what you want quickly and painlessly.

That is the goal as I see it–to embrace the struggle for what it is– a learning of something you need to know in order to get what you want.

I care a lot that in this pandemic everything seems to have been put on hold. A sunny day can be harder to envision.

Sometimes where you start out isn’t where you should remain.

That is the ultimate purpose of a detour: to cement in your mind the one true path you must go down to be happy and fulfilled.

You don’t often figure out until you experience firsthand a setback the truth about who you are and where you should be going in life.

Again–I think of these things during the pandemic we’re living through. Of how it can seem like this is the end of everything–the end of your hopes and dreams for whatever you had hoped to achieve.

I say: use this time to engage in active reflection.  Get out a notebook and sketch out what your goals will be when the pandemic is over.

Shore up your good feelings while you shelter in place.

Remember that after things get better there’s so much life for all of us to live.

Setting Goals

It can be hard to envision a sunny day coming when you’ve experienced a setback like living through this pandemic.

This is where setting goals can help you.

After things get better there is so much life for you to live. It pays to be future-minded.

I am an optimist. That is why I recovered. I believed that my future would be better.

I have always seen possibility where others see pain.

My recommendation is to get out a notebook and write down a goal you would like to achieve once things return to normal.

Fixing that goal in your conscious mind can empower you in your recovery.

With this purpose for what you want to do visible in print it can motivate you to do what it takes to make healthy choices today.

On the cable TV news the announcer reported that addiction and alcoholism have gone up during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Ask yourself: what can you do to bring yourself closer to achieving the goal?

Over and over wherever I’m writing anything I write about goal-setting I champion reading the book:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

This book I installed on my iPad. It has been instrumental in helping me achieve numerous goals.

In the coming blog entry I want to talk about woodshedding.

It’s a concept whose time has come for a review in light of the setback everyone’s experiencing living through the pandemic.