By Janice M. Woerner, OTR/L
In this day and age, New Year resolutions have become a thing of the past. We all know that a 365 –day long-term goal is way too lofty and basically sets us up for failure. Last year I wrote an article about “one-week” goals. I am a big fan of short-term goals. As an Occupational Therapist, I want to challenge my patients, YET make goals attainable. Well, this year I’m trying a new approach. I’m making a “TO DO” list.
Doesn’t it feel great to check something off your daily “to-do list”? It gives you such a sense of accomplishment. It makes you feel productive. It gives you a sense of competence and capability. Once you get a taste of success, you are motivated to go forward and do it again. Are ya with me?
Well, what is a goal exactly? To me, a goal is…FEAR. And Lord knows I am full of fears. I don’t know where they came from and I don’t care anymore. I have spent way too much time and money in psychotherapy trying to get to the root of my fears. I just want to get over them already. So come along with me.
Step One. Identify a fear. Some of my fears I don’t really wish to confront. For example, I’m scared of rollercoasters, and quite frankly, I don’t feel any sense of loss that I’ve never been on one. Also, I am scared of spiders, but I feel no need to go through some sort of desensitization therapy to get to the point where I can comfortably touch a tarantula. I’m ok freaking out when I see one. I’ll live with that fear.
However, something like flying on an airplane is necessary in my life. It connects me to friends and family who live too far to drive. Unfortunately, even though I have flown before, as I get older and the more I fly, the deeper my fear has become. You would think it would be the opposite, but it’s become worse. Some say that over the age of 40 your fears become more intense. Some say after you have children your fears heighten because you feel a stronger sense of loss. Well, whatever it is, I’m going to make that the first on my “TO DO” list.
#1 Fly on an airplane
Next fear: Heights. This one has definitely become worse. I swear I just stand on a ladder and I get dizzy. In fact, I can just watch someone on TV up on a ladder and I get dizzy. Perhaps my equilibrium or vestibular system, whatever, has “aged”. Well whatever it is, I want to do something to confront it. So I’ve chosen…drum roll…the flying trapeze! As soon as the weather gets warmer, I’m making an appointment at Trapeze School. If any of you are interested in taking on this challenge with me, shoot me an email. I’m planning it around my birthday in March.
#2 Soar on the flying trapeze
It has been said that “public speaking” is the #1 most common phobia among us humans. I am in that club. Now that may shock many of you who know me as a singer. I have sung on stage so often and for so many and hardly ever get nervous. Basically, that is because I have always been confident in what I was singing. I had the words memorized or lyrics in front of me. Once in a while I would ad-lib a bit, but mostly I stuck to the script. When I was singing in bands, if they wanted me to say something on the microphone, be it an announcement or just stall between songs, I became a mess. I just couldn’t do it. Or I would go the other way and babble, babble, babble until someone would have to cut me off. That is my “nervous babbling thing” that I have when I’m asked to speak formally in front of people – be it in a classroom, boardroom or even at the Thanksgiving table.
So this brings me to my next “To Do” item. The idea came to me to give a workshop for those diagnosed with breast cancer and are preparing for their mastectomy surgery. Having gone through a lumpectomy and mastectomy with two additional reconstruction surgeries, I consider myself somewhat of an expert. In addition, I have a clinical background. So why not gather a group of women and help put them at ease by educating them, giving them coping strategies and help plan for their recovery? I know that their doctors do their best to prepare their patients, however there are so many details that are overlooked simply because they are not “critical” or medically necessary. Now, how many breast surgeons are going to remind you to pack an electric toothbrush rather than a manual one, due to the lack of movement you will have with your arm? This is something that comes with experience and an Occupational Therapist’s brain. So I will be speaking at various venues this coming year in front of, anywhere from, 2 to 30 people at a time.
#3 Speak publicly in a formal setting
The rest of my “To Do” list includes things that I’m, not necessarily afraid of, but things that are challenging for me. If we really want to psychoanalyze, I’m sure there is fear behind why I have yet to engage in these activities. But again, I suggest you keep the items on your list “do-able”. So here are some of my “challenging, yet do-able” list items.
- Run a 5K – Well, if I’m going to do it, it’s gotta be fun and for a good cause. I found the perfect fit in the “Night Nation Run” on May 7th. https://www.nightnationrun.com/new-jersey-2016/ The charity the run supports is “Stand up to Cancer”. Shoot me an email if you sign up!
- Ice skating lessons – this is something I did as a kid and always loved. So I’m going to sign up for a private class, and of course, share my experience with my JGH&W readers.
So what’s on YOUR “to do” list. Go get pen and paper and start brainstorming. Or, better yet, use your smartphone to start a list as ideas come to you. As an alternative to the “New Year’s Resolution”, try picking 4-5 things you would like to do this year that push you out of your comfort zone. For those of you who would prefer to make vision boards, as you are compiling your pictures, consider your fears. Remember, a goal is a fear. As you conquer a goal, you conquer a fear.
Make your 2016 a truly dynamic year and knock off those items on your list…CHECK!