Goals are important.
Short-term or long-term, they have the ability to define who we are and what we do in our life (as long as we do our part to attain them).
I sure have plenty to work on, and with a 45-minute commute each way to and from work I have ample opportunity to listen to audio books on a variety of topics.
Lately, my CD player has been spinning tracks on leadership, inspiration, motivation and goals.
Although they’re very helpful, there is one aspect of the puzzle that’s missing — emotions.
The question is: how do we clarify our goals, let alone take steps to reach them, if our daily existence feels like such a struggle to survive?
Sure, there are some fantastic ideas on these CDs, many of which I use on a daily basis. Speakers like Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy really believe that each day can be chock-full of productive, goal-reaching actions. And they’re right.
But what about when we’re not feeling right?
I’m not talking about a bad attitude here, I’m talking about depression, exhaustion, anger or an upsetting matter that is weighing heavily on our minds — whether it’s a bad work environment, a sick family member or a personal illness — these are all issues that need addressing. They’re also issues that can very easily become obstacles to setting and acheiving goals.
Sometimes our day is full of coping. Whether it’s chatting with co-workers, surfing the Web, TV or some other distraction to get ourselves through the day (and night). So you could say that the immediate goal is to hold oneself together and survive, plain and simple.
Finally, the day ends. But will your sleep be peaceful? Will you wake up the next day feeling any different? Maybe, if your “problem” was a small matter that needed a day or two for you to let it go. But if the problem still exists, this routine can lead deeper and deeper into feelings of hopelessness.
Not good. It’s also not true — it’s just a feeling (albeit an extremely strong, oppressive one).
Like John Lennon said, “where there’s life, there’s hope.” I believe he’s right. I’ve experienced it. From almost dying of Crohn’s disease, to not being able to find a job, to ectopic pregnancies, I have faced situations that seemed unsolvable. But I was given hope by my lovely wife, and I am eternally grateful.
I know first hand that sometimes making it through the day is such a large goal, it feels like it’s all we can do.
But it’s not.
We have choices. The first of which is getting some positive thoughts into our heads to help us find some hope. Hope will lead to inspiration & motivation (that’s where these fantastic writers, speakers and loved ones come into play), which has the power to carry you out of just about any situation.
Second, if you need help, get help. Whether it’s depression, addiction, illness — whatever is bringing you down — get the help you need. Your life depends on it. Sometimes literally.
Just like I spoke about replacing bad habits with good ones in, The Four H’s of Self Destruction: When Hobby Becomes Habit, we need to do the same thing here. We need to replace a neutral or negative way of coping with a positive one.
Instead of taking 10 minutes to check Facebook or Twitter (which we just checked 20 minutes ago), or to kill time until 5 O’clock arrives, we can make a phone call to a specific person or organization that has the potential to help us move forward. Or we could read a few pages of a book that’s geared towards one of our goals.
If we don’t know exactly who to call or what to read, we can take that time to make a list or search the Web for resources. You get the idea. We’re still giving ourselves a chance to cope, but this option offers significant benefit, at the very least helping us feel better about ourselves. I’m not encouraging you to avoid doing your work at work. But the law says you get a lunch hour. How you use it is up to you.
In my case, I started with small, manageable steps and then began to determine and place some of my long-term goals alongside this survival goal. When we do this, we move from surviving toward thriving.
Would you rather survive as a troubled person or survive as a triumphant one? I truly believe that if you make enough positive life changes, no matter how small, they will add up. Your life and your attitude will improve.
If we substitute real, focused goals for “water-cooler chit-chat,” then we’re really doing something about the current situation as well as our future. In other words, we can choose to kill time or use it to build a life.
Either way the time will pass, and we’ll accomplish exactly what we set out to do.
(Note: This blog is in no way meant to replace or substitute the help of a professional. I am not a doctor. Although I hope this article proves helpful, I do not have all the answers. But I do have lots of questions…)
And remember, you are not alone…
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