Planning ahead and setting goals are good practice. However, if once we do so we become inflexible, we are setting ourselves up for failure. The writing process offers some valuable insight on the subject of planning and goal setting. Making a plan or setting a goal is akin to making an outline for an essay. That outline must then be followed by a shitty first draft, which requires editing. The editing process is an organic process that continues until our ideas are fully fleshed out and our intentions are presented with clarity and purpose.
The true goal of setting goals is to achieve something that’s not yet been attained. An initial idea will more often lead to a desired result if we include in our planning some space for reflection – some space for editing. Progress is not the result of a predetermined goal. Our determination, our firmness of purpose, is what needs to be inflexible – not the plan or the goal.
“If bullshit were liquid, we’d all be drowning!” Lucky for us, the amount of BS we encounter on a daily basis is behavioral in nature. Thus, we can protect ourselves with awareness, and choose not to get swept away by the metaphorical strength of its currents.
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly know as the DSM-V, categorizes about 157 different mental disorder. The roughly 1,000 page book lists all the criteria associated with these disorders, making it an encyclopedia of the unwell. Disorder, when defined in medical terms, means “to disrupt the healthy or normal functioning of,” with synonyms: dysfunctional, disturbed, unsettled, unbalanced, unstable, unsound and diseased.
The DSM has certainly evolved over the years, and it’s important to note that there are certainly persons that fit the true criteria, especially in regards to the more severe mental disorders, and so it’s surely important to understand these disorders in order for medical professionals to know how to help people to the best of their abilities.
On the other hand, where is the book describing the criteria for being a fully-functioning, well-balanced human, not afflicted by any dysfunction? As we know, this would not be a book, nor a pamphlet – it would fit on a single-page flyer. No human to ever live could author such a book. If it did exist, this one-page flyer would surely be placed in the fiction section rather than the self-help section, because it’s clearly fantastically unrealistic in nature. Therefore, it would appear that disorder is the norm, which makes disorder the true order of things. No life goes untouched by illness, struggle, conflict or pain. We know this! To seek to understand our pain for the sake of learning how to live with it and manage it is one thing – to use criteria of illness as an excuse as to why we can’t manage is missing the point entirely.
The word parent comes from the Latin word parere which means “to bring forth.” The dictionary definition of parent offers some interesting insight. Parent is initially defined as “a father or mother,” but has additional definitions of “an animal or plant from which younger ones are derived” and “a source or origin of a smaller or less important part.” What’s interesting here is that the definition speaks only to a “parent” as being responsible for another “things” origin – it doesn’t at all speak about what we commonly think of as parenting, or the actions associated with what it means to be a responsible care taker for what has been brought forth.
With that in mind, although we do not choose our individual origins, we’re fortunate that there’s infinite wisdom available to us in the world – all we have to do is choose to seek it out. Much like in the comics, it’s up to us to determine if our origin stories turn us into heroes or villains.
Sleep is not an escape for being idle. Sleep is restorative. Sleep feels good when we’re sleeping off a productive day. If hard work doesn’t precede sleep, there’s little need for rest. Idleness requires a jolt – not a nap. Our bodies thank us for a good night’s sleep after a hard worked day, and jolt our minds into knowing that good feeling, creating habits of desire for doing good work. Conversely, our minds will tell our bodies to stay mindlessly idle, burning fuel while going nowhere, when it senses we habitually use our time poorly.
We cannot cast blame on anyone else if we find ourselves tripping over stones we’ve once thrown. Though they may skip and bounce before coming to complete stop, we kept a close eye on them, so we know where we will find them. This also means we will know how to avoid them, step over them, or pick them up.
We are hardwired for survival. We wouldn’t be here if this truth wasn’t as old as our DNA. Survival is defined as, “the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.” Easy is defined as, “achieved without great effort; presenting few difficulties,” and “(of a period of time or way of life) free from worries or problems.” To be optimistic about the future means to fully understand that the path forward will be filled with inescapable struggle, and therefore worthwhile. Nowhere is it written otherwise.