A brief thought for the New Year
Carpé Diem - Remember Yesterday, Hope for Tomorrow, Live Today!
We always talk about New Years being a chance for new beginnings, a chance to start over, to do things differently than we have in the past. However, sometimes, the first thing that we have to do is do NOTHING! As we prepare to leave 2011 and enter 2012, I encourage you to join me in a time of reflecting on the the past year. Yes, that includes acknowledging and possibly facing some old pain, but it is also a time to remember the joy and the victories that we have had. In looking back that focus is not to beat ourselves up over our mistakes, but to remember them so as to not repeat them. Most of all I hope looking back is an opportunity to look back and see how far that you have come in your life and recovery. How much more like the person that you WANT to be you are and less like the person that you were. No matter if it is GREAT strides or only a few baby steps, Celebrate EVERY success.
Having “remembered yesterday” we turn our focus to “Hope for tomorrow.” Let me begin by saying I am NOT a proponent of “New Year’s Resolutions”. “Why not?”, you might ask. TO explain lets look at the typical “Resolution Experience”. First things first- the resolution itself; it is usually some expectation that is in realistic an impractical for us to consider trying. They are also often very vague. Examples include: “loose weight”. “Be a better person”, “Stop smoking”, etc. Next, when the New Year rolls around and we set out to start working towards keeping these resolutions we quickly become discouraged as realize how vague and unrealistic these resolutions really are. As a result, we simply give up and quit trying completely. Having done so, we suddenly start hearing all those negative messages replaying in our minds, “I knew that you could not do it”, “You will never amount to anything”, “You are such a failure”, “It’s no wonder no one wants to be with you.” Anyway, I think you get the idea. We end up overcome with guilt, shame and ultimately depression. Not my idea of a good way to start of a new beginning. Let me offer an alternative way of preparing for the year ahead. Goals are a necessity. We have to have something that we are working towards. When you travel you do not leave home without a destination to which you are going. Life/Recovery is the same way; we must have some goals that we are working towards. In this season, or any other as a matter of fact, we need to set clear, specific and attainable long term goals and then corresponding shorter term goals that act as steps to achieving the larger ones.
Let me try to illustrate with a brief personal example. As some of you ay or may not know, I have a dream of taking “Hope in Recovery” in to the community. My ultimate desire is to “someday” become a “motivational speaker” traveling doing workshops and seminars encouraging/empowering consumers of mental health services and providing support and resources to the people that serve them. So that is my “LOOOOOOONG Term Goal.” Is it attainable? Who knows. I hope so. In order to EVER get there are a number of other things that I need to do in the mean time, my shorter term goals. Even some of them have sub-goals as well. One of the important pieces that I feel must be in place to achieve my ultimate dream is that I have to complete the process and get my License to practice as a Professional Counselor. Thus short term goal. However, to do that I must take and pass a licensure exam and then complete internship hours; more sub-goals.
In setting shot term and sub-goals, the MUST be very clear, specific and set a time frame for completion. Deadlines are not for beating ourselves up over if we do not succeed; they serve as motivation to be actively pursuing that goals that we have set for ourselves.
Let me share one very brief example of setting deadlines: In one of his most recognized speeches, then President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961 called for the United States to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, just 8 years and 2 months later NASA’s Apollo 11 mission would land with the first humans on the moon.
So whether it is in your career, education, family and especially in your recovery start thinking about what your long term goals are and what steps, shot term/ sub-goals are you going to need to reach them. That brings me to what I believe is probably the most essential of this process, “Live Today” We can make no progress towards ANY goal doing nothing. As the old statement goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” Similarly, goals, no matter how great or noble, are not worth the paper that they are written on if they are not actively being pursued. It is time to get off the couch, believing and expecting the everything in the world to just “work out’ will we sit and wait. As the famous quote states, “…time waits for no man.”
This is where my tag line comes in: “One breath, One step, One day at a time” Each and every second, minute hour day, is an opportunity to move forward addressing and struggle and obstacle as it comes or to continue to as we have in the past, accepting it all and continuing to be that same person that we always have know ourselves to be. “Live Today” is not just about battling the struggles. Seeing as the present of today is the Past of tomorrow, make sure that despite your striving and work towards your goals, you take to to enjoy the good things that are in your life. Here again borrowing from an old tired cliché, “Stop and smell the roses.” Be honestly grateful for what you have and express it to those around you.
Today is your day! 2012 is your year of victory!
If you will only believe… ALL things are possible.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Carpe Diem – Remember Yesterday, Hope for Tomorrow, Live Today!