My Mom taught me that setting goals and figuring out the process to accomplish something begins with starting at the end. It might sound counter-intuitive to some, but it makes sense, I promise, especially if you look at whatever you’re trying to accomplish as if it’s a road trip. Let’s say you live in Charlotte, NC, and want to go on a road trip to Charleston, SC. You live in Charlotte, so that point is already established, so you’d find Charleston, SC on a map and track the highways and roads from there back to Charlotte. Once you’ve identified the possible routes, you can then figure out which roads and highways you want to travel on.
I’ve done the same thing with my “Road Map”. I know where I am. Where do I want to go? Ultimately and ideally, I want to go home. There’s my endpoint. How do I get there? Right now, the pre-determined route is by way of my projected release date. There is a shorter route, though – early release to home confinement. That’s my preferred route. How do I get there? For me, the route I’ve chosen is to put in the work in 3 main areas of focus:
1) mental health
3) treatment and rehabilitation
With my support network, led by my Mom, we determined that these 3 areas supplement each other. If I could work on emotional balance and rational thinking in the mental health area, that would help me with education, as in college coursework towards a bachelor’s Degree. Education and mental health work would then help my mental and emotional health so that I could maximize my learning and apply myself in treatment and rehabilitation.
These are not the ONLY 3 areas of my efforts. They are the areas that we identified as priorities and that I expected to need the most attention. I’m constantly “self-assessing”, checking in with myself on how I think I’m doing and what areas I feel like I’m falling short on and what areas am I satisfied with about myself. I also keep myself open and receptive to feedback from others. I’ve learned that MY perspective of myself is not “complete”, and having others’ perspectives helps me compile a bigger picture of myself. That was NOT my pre-2011, “old me” way of thinking. “New me” is less critical of myself, and more able to get out of my own way so I can be productive and constructive. That’s one example of my mental health work, the therapy, and counseling that helped me work through being my own harshest critic and ever-present feelings of not being “enough” for anyone. I spent a lot of time in a negative, destructive state of mind, and I’d mastered the ability to “confirmation-bias” myself – if someone said I was a jerk, I internalized it and acted like a jerk, then in my self-talk, I’d criticize myself and validate to myself what they said, “See, they said you’re a jerk, and you are, you just showed it.” Through therapy and counseling, I learned just how much I was driving a lot of my thoughts and actions by my self-talk. I knew I did it, I saw me do it! Once I got a handle on my self-talk, beginning with cleaning up my (horrible!!) potty mouth, which opened the door for me to make gains in other areas of my mental health. I’ll share more of that part of the learning and growth process in upcoming journal posts.
Big thank you to Mr. Santos and his team for making this project available and for the advocacy work they are doing!!!! THANK YOU ALL!!!