Targets & Goals (Part 1) – Short Term Targets & Goals
- Be Honest With Yourself – When taking on a new challenge, even one that is a short-term challenge, it is important (perhaps the most important stage in setting any kind of goal) to look at yourself in an honest and frank way, to ask questions about yourself and where you are in terms of recovery. The questions you ask yourself, regarding the common manifestations of ABI (fatigue, cognitive ability, social awareness, physical fitness etc.) and the conclusions you come to will enable you to make the decision as to whether it is an achievable goal and whether the time is right to take it on. Many of the following pieces of advice will lead back to this point.
- Strengths & Weaknesses – This already comes back to point number 1. I found that a good way to build self-esteem and target achievable goals was to look at myself and ask, “What are my strengths and weaknesses?” and answer honestly. I would then write them down, producing a list, things I’m good at and things I need to work on. I found I was then able to set a series of fairly simple short – term targets that were based mainly on my strengths but would also help build on my weaknesses and seek improvement.
- Know Your Disability, Know Your Goal – This seems like a fairly obvious one; knowing what you want to do. But goals are also about achievement as well. Very rarely is a particular target post-ABI as simple as just setting a target and performing the actions needed to achieve that target. It is important to focus on the target but be aware of the manifestations of ABI as a disability and how they will affect you and the way you go about achieving your goal. For example, a trip to the supermarket may, in basic terms, seem a simple proposition. But when we take into account issue such as listing all the items we need to buy, organizing finances, travel arrangements, the crowded, noisy nature of supermarkets and the return trip home, the goal becomes far more complicated. What worked for me was to alter such goals so that they incorporated elements of improvement for my ABI recovery. So for me, “Go Shopping at the Supermarket” became “Go Shopping at the Supermarket Without Being Affected by the Crowded Noisy Environment”. I found that when I took on this approach, setting targets with my disability in mind, that I could always take a positive away from it. It maybe wasn’t the exact win I wanted, but a win nevertheless. These minor victories help to build confidence, which can lead to further successes.
- Assess The Target & Prepare – A line needs to be drawn between setting out to achieve something in the short-term and doing something on a whim. It is my belief that post-ABI, real achievement (short or long-term) normally takes a lot of planning and preparation. Once you have decided what goal you are aiming for, set a date for it and then plan what you need to do. As you saw above, going to places like supermarkets, crowded noisy and confined spaces, were a real problem for me. Doing this independently added even more agro when I considered travel, oraganising money, knowing what I needed to buy. So, what I did was break down the target into its parts: go online and check the bus service I needed, check what time the bus service ran, make a shopping list, remember to go to the cash point, find out when the return bus service would be. I would write all of this information down on a list and check it off, as I want, ensuring no detail was forgotten, increasing my chance of success.
- Commit To It, But Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help – One of the things I always did was to ensure that I was always contactable and could always contact others. Sometimes it seems as if the whole world is crashing down on top of us. There are too many people, it’s too loud, people are looking at me, I look foolish, and I want to go home! I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!! This has happened to me many times and still does even today (seven and a bit years later). When those occasions occur, there is no shame in ringing someone up and getting a lift home. Needing help is nothing to be ashamed of and we must ensure that we do not see ourselves as a burden to the people around us (such as the time when I went on a night out with friends, got separated from them and slept on a bench in the snow because I didn’t want to wake anyone up or be an inconvenience). Those people that help us in times of need show us we are not burdens, simply by being there for us when we need them.
- Don’t Be Afraid Or Ashamed Of Failure – When those occasions occur, where you need help from others, where it is best for you to abandon ship, to come back and regroup to fight another day there is no shame in doing that. Even though it can be a real kick in the teeth, failure is not something to be ashamed of. When we are making adjustments that are the size and scale of the ones that need to be made post-ABI, not foreseeing the chances of failure would be naïve. We have to treat these times as learning experiences and partly, as something outside of our control given the type of disability we have. These issues were not something we were born with. We are not to blame. You are not to blame. Remember, there is always another day, another time to try again. While some things may seem like failure, very rarely is there complete failure.
- Celebrate Your Achievements, No Matter How Small – When something goes well and you achieve a target, always remember to give yourself a pat on the back. No matter what help or support you may have had prior, you were the one who went and did it. Very rarely do people like us with disabilities give themselves enough credit for the things they do that might seem small to others but are a huge victory for us.
About the author
My life was changed for ever on the 30th of August 2009 when an attack on a night out left me with sever brain injuries. I was left in an induced coma after suffering fractures to the skull, bleeds on the brain, as well as severe bruising to the frontal lobes. Since the injury I have found it hard to find and keep work, to maintain relationships, and generally stay positive. I have decided to share all of my journey with you, in the hope we can bring brain injury awareness to the level it should be at. Please, follow my own WordPress blog Life After Brain Injury to keep up to date with my brain injury journey! Follow me on Twitter: @ABIBlogger
Tom Massey, ABI Blogger