Thursday, 10 April 2014

Goals: Setting, Achieving and Discarding Them

Image:  Channel 5
Righty ho readers!  I want you to do yourselves a favour and pop over to Channel 5's website, more specifically the programme that's available by following this link here. Even if you're going through a procrastinatory phase in your current life, you'll be alright because 'The Limbless Mountaineer' is available until the end of 2020.

It's about Jamie Andrew, a quadrilateral amputee, who lost parts of each of his upper and lower limbs from frostbite after being stranded in a blizzard in the Alps in 2002.  Sadly his climbing partner died.  The programme showcases his resourcefulness in all areas of the life that he shares with his wife and children. He's 'invented' some pretty impressive  essential gadgetry, like a snowball maker/chucker, and could certainly teach us occupational therapists a thing or two.

As a person who still identifies herself as a long distance hiker even though poor health  precluded this for a while,  I know that once you've felt the pull from mountainous terrain, the urge to return to high peaks becomes like an addiction.  Mapping out my own future life still involves being in that Appalachian wilderness and walking the whole trail in one hit. Perhaps Louis would like to join his mama doing just that during his gap year rather than going away with his mates.  Oh, okay I'll go on my own if I have to!  Those climbers are especially driven beasties.  The film highlights Jamie Andrew's passion for the Alps in spite of what happened to him and told the story of  his attempt to climb the Matterhorn, a peak that challenges even the most able bodied of mountaineers.

Two thoughts about goals came to mind after watching this film.   The first is that even after suffering adversity, individuals can go on to plan and achieve things that they never thought possible  in the wildest dreams that they had before the trauma occurred.  I've been very stuck for a while when it comes to physical activity but the programme demonstrated that there is nothing to suggest that I can't think big now especially as the operation and following rehab should leave me fitter than I've been for over ten years.

The other musing almost seems in opposition to what I've just said.  When a goal is set it seems perfectly okay if it doesn't come to fruition.  Circumstances that halt  its attainment can be at a micro or macro level.  A big idea might be legitimately discarded if dealing with other stuff that life throws at us takes priority. Or, on the brighter side sometimes an even better opportunity comes along which makes the original plan seem insignificant!

At a nitty gritty level, sometimes we overestimate what we can do within a given time frame. It's fine to modify goals then too.  A couple of days ago I set myself a little 'To Do' list for the day which included journeying by bus  to attend physio and medical appointments, hoovering downstairs, and changing my bed. In the end I was in too much pain and had to forego the last task.  What I would usually achieve in an hour couldn't be done during waking hours.  But's that how it has got to be.  It brought to mind  the last of the Four Agreements from Toltec Wisdom,  ' Always Do Your Best'.  There it is acknowledged that our best efforts will vary from moment to moment.  I'd strived as hard as I could on that particular day. Yesterday brought revival so, Mmmm!  Finally there were clean sheets last night.

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