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.