SET A GOAL TO FEEL BETTER ~ Published March 2017 in Lakeside Sun eMagazine
"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” ~Michelangelo
We living at Lake Chapala are inspiring to those who want to live a life that suits who they have become, especially if they are retirees, empty nesters, or widowed. Like me you probably researched the perfect place to spend your senior years, one that was best suited to your current needs and desires. Once you learned about Lakeside’s benefits, which includes affordable housing, medical care, and personal help, you likely came South to check it out for yourself.
These individual achievements became the small victories that eventually got you living here to enjoy one of the best climates on earth, fresh local food, and shared interests in practically anything. This is goal setting that most of us here can relate to. The process to bring it to fruition, of course, took time, focused attention, and conscious effort. If you are enjoying the fruits of your labor as much as I am, you can look back with satisfaction and feel it was one of the best investments in yourself that you ever made.
Setting goals for personal improvement, however, can seem less than desirable for those that are stuck in a pattern of routinely filling their days with TV, social media, and entertaining themselves. I can hear some of you out there asking, “How in the world can I fit in any personal enrichment aims into days that are already filled to the brim? What could possibly be worth changing my habits for?” Especially the ones that make our comfort zones, well, comfortable.
The problem with always staying in that unchallenging place is that it can dominate your life. You may believe that you own it when it’s actually the one that owns you. Maybe you would never consider changing anything about the routine that appears to fit you so well. If you do, you are not alone. Many feel this way, wearing their daily habits like a warm coat against the cold of the world, even if it involves letting the stresses of that world in voluntarily.
The problem is that avoiding change is a real barrier between us and Self Cultivation… remember, from last month’s Lakeside Sun? Setting short, medium, and long range goals lead to actuating the many rewards that it gifts our lives. So here’s a question worthy of asking yourself, “Could what I have yet to include in my life be better than what I already have in it?”
If your life lacks luster, satisfaction, passion, or excitement then maybe it’s time to look into yourself to consider what may provide these. If you think that you are too old, too tired, or don’t have a clue as to where to start—let me offer a suggestion. Pick one thing that you believe will feel really good to you. When I first came to Lakeside I realized that my experience of life here would be much enhanced if I relearned how to sing.
I know, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget. It’s not that I forgot, it’s just that after living in virtual solitude for the better part of the ten years, as the sole caregiver for my husband with Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, not only did I become socially inept and unable to hold a decent conversation, but my singing voice went into hiding. I suspected misaligned bones in my neck had something to do with my crackling singing voice.
I set myself the goal of having them aligned by my Musculoskeletal Surgeon/ Therapist. I think the ultrasound he used at the end of each session healed my larynx too. After six months of alignment treatments my neck pain left and my singing voice returned. I practiced my restored voice by singing along with artists who had a range I could manage and songs that I loved. Now I am able to sing better than ever, a thing that brings me much joy.
That’s the main point of setting goals as an elder—to feel the elation that we didn’t have when we were too busy working or raising a family. Our time no longer has to compete with putting food on the table or kids to bed, because it’s finally our own. That is, unless we allow our comfort zone activities to control us. A real sign of maturity is being able to focus on getting into our lives what makes us feel and do better.
Many of us were able to get unstuck from our former lives to come to this beautiful place to enjoy a more fulfilling life. However, if you are disenchanted or feel that something is missing, setting personal achievement targets to improve how you feel is desirable. Start by asking yourself, “What pastime, charitable work, hobby, or art form would make me feel good.” As I’ve told my daughter, Lacy, her whole life, “Deciding to do something is 51% of the work, the rest is just follow through.”
You get to decide how you experience your life. Start to improve how you feel by learning what is gratifying to you and setting your aim in that direction. These goals make you accountable to yourself for their own progress. They enable the little victories that build your life into one that feels good to you ongoing. One last thing, you don’t have to share this desire with anyone. When you start to thrive people will notice and be happy for you.