Recently I have been struggling a little to ensure I have a decent work/life balance, and some things cropped up which have made me a little anxious. I figure I can about this the way I do most of the time; exercise, meditate, eat, moan, watch sci-fi, stretch, basically deploy a mixture of healthy and unhealthy coping strategies or focus on one strategy for an unhealthy period of time, or I can use this as an opportunity to try doing something a bit different. I have decided to do something a bit different, although what this will actually mean over a long term period I don’t yet know. I appreciate nobody may ever read this but me, but even for me this could prove to be a useful exercise. As a CBT therapist, I appreciate that sometimes I am not the best at using the tools I know can be beneficial to living a healthy, balanced life. When I look at how I use the tools, I can see that I am inconsistent, and I hypothesize that if I practice more and integrate the tools more into my daily life, then I believe I will notice a difference in terms of how mentally well I feel, how able to cope I perceive myself to be, and how balanced I am in my approach to myself and those around me. If I can achieve these three things, I believe I will be happier and more pleasurable to spend time with. Noticeably so!
If the above is my rationale, the method is pretty straight forward. I intend to keep a diary of no less than 200 words written at least five times per week over the next 12 months. The diary will be used to note the changes in my life, any difficulties or successes I experience, and what therapeutic tools I am utilising. I may not write about what is going on in the ‘here and now’ every time I document what is going on, as I may feel it more beneficial to reflect on the past as it effects how I feel on any given day, but the main purpose is to show that as a therapist I am as affected by the world as any of my clients, and that if I can use the tools I encourage clients to use, I can evidence change in my life which indicates others may experience change of their own in similar situations. I would qualify all of this by stating from the outset that I am someone who has experienced acute anxiety in the past, I have been treated for long term depression, insomnia, and I am in recovery from poly-substance addiction with my alcohol primary drug of choice. I am not some self-actualised, Zen-minded, centred being who lives beyond the slings and arrows of everyday existence, as if such a person could truly exist living in Cumbernauld, although as a believer in the spectrum of experience and probabilities I accept such a person could live in Cumbernauld, I am sceptical of their existence and I am certain that person is not and probably never will be me.
So how does this work then? Well as this undertaking is an aspiration I will begin as I mean to continue and utilise my first tool to illustrate how this will work.
Goal Setting: Pick a long-term goal.
I hope to write a diary over the course of 12 months which shows how the therapeutic tools I use in my practice can be used in daily life as practical ways to help achieve better outcomes. I believe if I do this, I will benefit by feeling:
- Having a more balanced life
- Cope with life in a better way than I currently do
- Fell more mentally well than I currently do
As a therapist asking a client to set a goal, I would use the SMART goal setting tool so if I look at my own goals I ask if it fits the criteria.
Is my goal specific? Yes, it is very specific, but it could be more specific so I will add the caveat as I stated in the above paragraph, the diary will consist of minimum 200 words, at least five days out of seven, and I should evidence that I am using therapeutic tools (such as SMART goal setting).
Is my goal measurable? My goal is only partly measurable as I have stated that my aspirations are to have a more balanced life, to be able to cope better, and to feel more mentally well, but I have not taken baseline measurements in order to compare my results at the end of twelve months. I will complete a CORE 34 and post this tomorrow which will give a baseline, I might also want to use the Becks Anxiety Index as part of the reason I am doing this is due to experiencing higher than normal (for me) levels of anxiety.
Is my goal achievable? 200 words 5 times per week evidencing tools I already use is certainly achievable. There may be times such as holidays when I cannot update five times per week, so apart from times when I am out of the country, this is certainly achievable.
Is my goal realistic? I am a trained CBT therapist, using therapeutic tools on myself and documenting the results. That seems realistic to me, and I am the only person who really matters here so I am OK with this.
Is my goal time limited? Yes, the goal is to reach the 20th of July 2017.
So we are off and running. I will add my Core 34 scorecard and my Becks Anxiety Index score tomorrow.