Stuck in Neutral

Using SMART Goals to break mental stalls

Our unfortunate technical interruption has actually provided me with an opportunity for some introspection. My original plan was to write blog posts for the days that I was unable to access Misdirected – to get ahead, as it were.

Yeah, THAT went about as well as you are guessing.

Unable To Move Forward

I have found myself in a curious position the last couple of weeks. I have been rushing from project to project, but have been unable to make much headway in any of them. My weight loss numbers got a bit sabotaged. I have been stuck on week 4 of my C25K program for 2 weeks, unable to finish the final day. I have written fragments of several fiction and non-fiction pieces, but have been unable to actually finish any of them.

As I told Lor – I feel like I am in a car with the accelerator pressed all the way to the floor, with the transmission stuck in neutral.

Stalls Aren’t Just For Weight Loss

By now, everyone is familiar with the term “stall”. It refers to weight sticking at a certain point, no matter what a person does to try to lose it. I am discovering that stalls apparently apply to personal and emotional life as well as weight loss. Who knew?

There is simply an obstacle of some kind, preventing me from making progress in any significant area in my life. Attempting to overcome it is frustrating, exasperating, and maddening as hell. It does not appear to be a symptom of depression: I have been previously diagnosed with depression, and know what that feels like. I don’t think it is related to my seizures, or my diet, or major life changes. This is nothing more than a rock that I keep banging my head against, waiting for it to move.

The SMART Solution

So, instead of chasing my metaphorical tail, I will attempt to apply some new-found knowledge. My ACE Personal Trainer curriculum suggests that development of workout routines for clients must be based on “SMART” goals. This means that goals must be:


So, instead of saying “I want to lose more weight,”, I would instead say “I want to exercise 30 minutes a day every day this week.” This goal is specific, it is measurable, it is attainable, it gives both time and results expected.

Mind you, I already exercise 30 minutes (or more) a day, but this seemed like a good example.

In my case, I will stop flitting from project to project, and instead, will make a SMART goal for the week: “I will write 30 minutes a day on Chapter 1 of ‘Learning To Live In The Dark.'”

Specific? Yup, pretty specific.

Measurable? Yeah, I own several stopwatch programs.

Attainable? I could create 30 minutes a day just by not looking at Facebook and Huffington Post every day. 🙂

Results-Focused? I tend to write about 2,000 words an hour. 30 minutes a day, therefore, would work out to about 7,000 words for Chapter 1 of my book: almost an entire chapter.

Time-Focused? Yup, I have committed to doing this for 1 week.

The Proof Will Be In The Pudding

Will I manage it? Only time will tell. But I have to admit that even having a focused goal feels better that the chaos I have been creating recently. I will let everyone know how it goes.

Anyone else out there have any great tips for pushing through these mental stalls?

Ready To Get Moving,


The Garden of Regrets

Photo Credit: soikkoratamo via Compfight cc

How do you look at your life? When you sit down and think about the life you have led so far, how do you visualize it? I know people who think of their lives as a climb up a mountainside. Many I know look at life as a road, stretching before and behind them into infinity. Another person I know has described her life as a painting that she is creating as she goes, working the canvas from one side to another.

I look at my life as a garden. Decisions, relationships, and opportunities all grow from a plot of common ground. A few (very few) flowers have been carefully tended, given water and sunlight, and have turned into flowering blossoms that provide the beauty in my life. The rest…well, the rest are half grown and dead, having withered away due to neglect or forgetfulness, or have even been intentionally been allowed to die. To me, my life is a wasteland of drooping and blackened husks, punctuated with the occasional splash of color.

Why share this admittedly depressing visualization with you? Mainly because of the fears that are coming along with my current life choices. After a long period of stasis, my life is suddenly filled with activity and choices. And I am desperately afraid that I will screw those choices up.

For example, when dealing with the issues that come along with buying a house that is nearly as old as my parents, I can’t help but have some thoughts about that other house. Twenty years ago, Lor and I were simple country mice, living in a little town in northern New Mexico. My parents decided to move to the big city, and invited us to move into the home they had been living in – the home I grew up in. About a year later, chasing dreams of being a rock star in the big city, I moved us to Albuquerque as well, selling that house and leaving small town life behind forever.

That house would have been completely paid off for nearly 10 years now.

These are the kind of thoughts that come and sit upon your chest at 4 in the morning when you are getting ready to buy a different house – one that I will not have paid off until I am in my seventies. Every bad decision I have ever made leads me to question every choice I am currently making.

Another great example: We don’t talk about it much, but Lor and I were actually divorced for a period of 4 years, before reconciling and remarrying on what would have been the 20th anniversary of our first marriage. (Follow all that?) That is significant for a pretty big reason – the car accident I was in that caused my adult-onset Epilepsy took place in the parking lot of an apartment complex. The apartment complex that Lor was moving into after our initial separation.

So, goes the theory, if I had just worked a little harder on our marriage the first time around, I never would have developed epilepsy in the first place, right? Though I sort of have the belief that everything happens for a reason, I am not enough of a fatalist that I think I was predestined to make the choices I have made over the years. I think choice is important – I think it is what defines us as a species, as well as moral and spiritual beings.

But, if choice really matters, then making the right choices now becomes really important. The surgery coming up here in a few weeks no longer seems like the natural conclusion to a series of life events, but instead looks as yet another chance to screw my life up by making the wrong decision. With the exceptions of both times I married Lor, my track record as a decision maker is not a great one. Selfish choices on my part have led to some very bad results for my little family. I am not looking back on the previous 40+ years with pride right now, but instead with regret, and a longing to have made a few major decisions differently.

I am not sure why this is jumping on me 18 days (but who is counting?) before my surgery. But I am just fervently hoping that the seeds I am planting in my life right now can be watered and nurtured into a different kind of garden – one filled with living plants that will eventually bloom. I would love to spend the final half of my life, whether that be 4 years or 40, surrounded by beauty, derived from the seeds I am planting today.

It doesn’t seem that much to ask, to hope that I am planting seeds filled with life this time around.

Trying To Find My Watering Can,

– Hawkwind