Make Goals. Have a Plan.
Written by guest blogger David George, an Army Reserve chaplain assistant who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. David is a survivor of attempted suicide and lives with PTSD. More of his works can be found at www.davidegeorge.wordpress.com.
Happy New Year! I’m not one that makes New Year’s Resolutions, but I do have ongoing goals in life. I don’t need the calendar to change for me to evaluate where I’m at or where I want to be. However, the transition from one year to the next is always a great time to assess our current goals, make some new ones, and possibly create a new beginning altogether. If you get motivated by the new year to make resolutions or goals that are good for you, then use that motivation. If down the road, you find you need to adjust, then adjust. Any day that ends in “Y” is a good day to update, achieve, or make goals.
Most of us can relate to being goal-oriented in our military careers. Often our goals were laid out in front of us by military regulations, our superior commands, or other influences from a unit level. Our physical fitness standards and marksman skills are goals set by military standards. You may have tried to exceed the minimum, but the basic goal is already in place. Making rank is a goal I’m sure we all shared. I know in the army during the last decade the standards were relaxed, but now if you stay stagnant in the same rank for too long, you will be put out. That’s another goal mandated by the military, move up or move on. For those of us who deployed and spent time in a war zone, our daily goal might have been simply to not die.
After my second deployment, I found it very hard to set goals. I was at a loss for any motivation. I had forgotten how to function in a ‘normal’ lifestyle. I had no goals, was being smothered by depression, and quite frankly had no desire to live. I believe now that my lack of being able to make goals and not having a clear direction or purpose to my life contributed to my suicidal thoughts and actions. As it turns out, after my failed attempt, my daily goal was to make it to the next day, simply to not die. Ironic, I know.
I remember a time when I was in the psych ward and we each had to share our daily goal in a group setting. I heard people say they had a goal of taking a shower or brushing their teeth or writing in their journals. I scoffed at them. I even got into an argument with the social worker leading the group about it. Could they be serious? How could they have such meaningless goals, some of which should be part of everyday life and hygiene? I stated my goal: to get out of the psych ward. I didn’t understand at the time. I had no idea that my goals were too lofty, that I wasn’t ready for such things. Some of the other group members set goals that could be achieved. They would be successful. I, however, would fail in all my goals until I could understand that I had to be realistic. I fully understand now that I was wrong in the way I looked at the others’ goals.
Make goals. Have a plan. I don’t care if your goal is to put on matching socks in the morning; that’s something to build on if that’s where you are in life. I can relate – now. Make a goal, achieve a goal, repeat. Start with something that is achievable for you. Don’t worry about what other people think; do your thing. I hope the new year brings you peace and goals achieved. But remember, any day is a perfect day to make goals. Good day, God bless. Dave