Risking

I say: express your feelings to a therapist or trusted friend or mentor.

It can be scary risking doing something. As the pandemic starts to end–hopefully by early next year–this is when it can make sense to take a risk like finding a job or going to school or get trade or vocational training.

Establishing a support team can help you weather the uncertainty of whether you will succeed or not.

When you give a goal your best shot there can be no shame if what you wanted to do doesn’t work out.

It’s natural to fear failure and it’s also natural to fear success.

What might be happening is a bout of self-stigma or having the mindset that you don’t deserve to have fortune.

Either way your thoughts can influence what you feel which can hold you back.

For one goal I’ve decided to employ the “act as if” technique of acting boldly even when I might be scared.

I’ll end here by saying that the objective is to try, to risk, to fail, and to try again..

In the next blog entry I’ll take about risking in more detail.

Keeping a Goals Journal

While working through the Changeology 90-day action plan for my goals I track my weekly progress in a journal.

I buy the hardbound journals in Rite Aid. You might be able to pick them up in Staples too.

Tracking Behavior starts in Step 2 Prep and continues after that. I write in the journal as often as needed and re-read the entries every few days.

There–you can see in black-and-white–or in blue or black ink how you’re coming along.

So far I’ve achieved one 3-month goal. I’m in Step 5 or Persist which lasts the rest of your life.

This requires that you get honest with yourself about what’s going on that is derailing you from achieving a goal.

Measuring a behavior could tend to improve a behavior. When you’re accounting for what you’ve done the tendency is engage in the goal activity.

Keeping track of what you spend money on for example could be the natural segue for spending less.

The goals journal should be a separate one from a regular day-to-day journal.

Using hardbound books motivates me to go back and flip through the pages to see how I’ve improved.

In the coming blog entry I’m going to talk about finding a mentor to help you out in your life and career.

In Step 2 you mobilize your support team. In Step 3 and beyond you rely on these helping relationships.

My stance is that peers should empower each other not be jealous of each other. Jealousy is a form of self-stigma.

Instead of being envious of others I’ve always wanted to “pick their brains” to see what enabled them to succeed.

One mentor was instrumental in my life and I’ll talk about him next.

Creating a Goals Binder

In 2000 when I started my librarian job I bought a black binder with clear sleeves. On the front cover I inserted an index card that I typed my life goals on. On the back cover I inserted the Theodore Roosevelt quote about daring greatly.

I used each tabbed section of the binder to insert different worksheets. One section houses pages that list my goals for each decade of my life. Another section is where I placed the Accomplishments lists. A different section contains sheets of life guidelines I typed up.

Every so often I re-read the binder. When I showed the binder to a woman who was an LCSW she was astonished that I wrote down my goals in vivid detail.

I recommend creating a goals binder. Skimming through it might give you comfort in this time of the pandemic where everything has been halted.

At first you might read the contents every week. I read my own binder every two months.

In tandem with this approach I recommend keeping a goals journal. I’ll talk about this in the coming blog entry.

Planning Each Week

In recovery as in life nothing is guaranteed.

Having a setback is often the only predictable outcome.

You might be rolling along and then something happens to change everything.

I’ve learned after living indoors for over four months that not everything in life can be controlled.

A person can choose their response. How you respond is within your control.

And sometimes how you respond isn’t always healthy.

The goal as I see it becomes to forgive yourself dust yourself off and get back up and try again the next day.

This is why in my estimation it’s not helpful to try to plan what’s going to happen five years from now.

Danica Patrick the race car driver in her fitness book Pretty Intense tells readers to do one healthy thing. Then do the next healthy thing. And one healthy thing after that. And so on.

This is how I’m planning my life while living through the COVID-19 outbreak which hasn’t gone away.

Breaking down my goals into weekly segments. Doing one thing in one day to manage this pandemic with its corresponding setbacks.

I call this the “one thing/one day” tactic.

To compartmentalize activities this way makes it easier to live through the uncertainty and unpredictability of what’s going on.

In two weeks I return to my job. I’d like to talk in here about the nature of returning to a job while the outbreak is still in effect.

Step 4 – Persevere

I’ve started Step 4 of the 90-day action plan. This is the Persevere step.

For going on four months I was forced indoors because of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City.

New York State went from having the highest number of cases to having the lowest infection rate as of today.

My goal had been to use my paycheck to buy food. Which I was able to do for the duration of Step 3 Perspire.

Living indoors I wasn’t tempted to buy things impulsively that I didn’t need.

Today and in the coming four weeks this is when I’m supposed to use tactics to persevere in maintaining this goal.

After I publish Working Assets my goal is to publish a personal finance book for peers.

To feel like you have control over the direction of your life is imperative. To have control over what you choose to spend money on is the first step in gaining economic freedom.

A shift in behavior can create a corresponding mental shift. And two goals can co-exist at once. Like my goal of cooking my own dinners 5x per week and creating on Sunday a routine for the coming week.

By relaying in this blog my progress with my own goals I strive to empower readers to tackle their own objectives.

To create lasting change you and I need to be able to maintain the new behavior for the long-term.

I will talk in the next blog entry about the number-one benefit of establishing a routine in a time like this pandemic and beyond.

Creating a Weekly Routine

I find that imposing a structure to each week is a way to feel like you’re in control.

Creating a routine on Sunday for the coming week is my strategy for getting through the pandemic and beyond.

Automating recurring tasks can help.

I have my groceries delivered the same day every week. I budget in a set amount to spend on this food delivery so that the cost doesn’t fluctuate.

As I might have talked about before in here and in my Flourish blog it’s imperative to take care of your mental and physical health in a time like the pandemic.

The outbreak is still in effect in most cities and towns in America.

If you ask me this is the perfect time to create a routine.

I recommend the Julie Morgenstern book Time Management from the Inside Out 2nd Edition. She gives readers ideas for breaking each day into time zones.

In the coming blog entries I”m going to talk about setting up a weekly routine in more detail.

In August I would like to return to career topics.

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.