You may have seen my video on Monday where I introduced the topic of goals. I can imagine some of you rolling your eyes or even just clicking off, because the thought of something as fluffy as goals when you’re going through this grief stuff can leave you feeling cold.
But, as much of a cliché as this is, grief is a journey. We are all at different points on this road – some of us are just starting out, some of us are in the middle and some of us are coming towards the end. However, as I’ve progressed along this road I have found the quality of my grief and my emotions changing. At the beginning, it was a slog and the numbing quality of it, with the occasional feelings of anger, made it bearable, but as time has marched on I find that it’s the waves of grief that knock me off my stride. I’ll be going along quite nicely and then from left field comes a trigger that I’ve not prepared for and I can feel low again.
However, there is a flip side to this, I have noticed that as I have moved along this road, I am more willing to plan and make goals. And I suppose some of that is my ability to recognise and accept the ambiguities of my childlessness. Yes, I think it’s probably one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. It’s an incredibly painful experience, that is tinged with sadness, anger and enviousness whenever I have to be around someone else’s child or see a pregnant women cross my path, but it has changed me.
And at the start of your journey you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ll never be happy again or you’ll never be able to cope with a future that doesn’t include your dream of a family. Because that is how I felt. But, I think for all of us, we have to get used to and accept the fact that it’s OK to be happy and to park the emotions around our childlessness in order to enjoy a party, or to treat ourselves to something without any guilt. It fucking hurts, but sometimes we can shelve it enough to have a break and engage with life again. And for me, I think that was the space where I discovered that it was acceptable for me to start dreaming of what I wanted for my life again.
It can be hard for people outside this community to really understand what a number this situation does on your confidence, your identity and your future. That’s right – OUR FUTURES. Because childlessness doesn’t just impact you in the here and now, there are a lot of considerations for the future. So, there’s a lot of fear there anyway, so imagine our trepidation when it comes to planning and focusing on the future when it can look so scary anyway.
So here are my tips for getting to grips with goals:
I noticed at the start of my childlessness I lost my curiosity for myself, for the people around me and life in general. There was no sense of wanting to improve things, as I just needed to get through the days. So, if you’re starting to wonder if 2020 is going to be something of a ‘Groundhog Day’ for you and you want better, start looking at what you like and dislike about yourself, your life and your relationships.
By way of an example, I had a job I liked and was able to do easily, but it wasn’t a challenge on any level. I wasn’t able to progress and so although I enjoyed it, there was an underlying feeling of dissatisfaction. I only discovered this when I started to get curious about my feelings around work and how I would feel if I was still there in five or ten years’ time (I felt terror, thanks for asking). That was the start of asking myself what I wanted instead, which was the tougher bit…
So, you’ve got curious and you’ve discovered what you don’t like, but now what? What happens if you don’t have the faintest idea what you want to instead? Don’t panic and try not to get frustrated, because there’s nothing worse than feeling stuck.
That’s where vision-boarding can come in. Grab a pile of magazines, grab some glue and a huge sheet of paper. Start ripping out pictures and words that speak to you – it doesn’t even have to make sense. If you don’t know why you like it, rip it out anyway. Before you know it you’ll have a whole heap of stuff to glue on your paper and guess what if you didn’t know what you wanted, subconsciously you might have done because themes will come through.
If this all sounds a bit fluffy have a look at Friday’s video where I go into this a bit more and show you my actual vision-board. You’ll see what I have on there presently and you’ll also discover that I wasn’t even 100% aware of some of the things I wanted.
Making it practical
As you’ll see on Friday, some of us are pragmatists (hello!) and some of us are dreamers, but in either case we have to have the right mindset in order to bring in changes that we want to see. For some of us it’ll involve getting very bloody specific in terms of what, when and why.
Now, as you’ll see on Friday I’m not one for timetables because as soon as you tell me there’s a deadline on my dream, I’m frankly not going to stick with it. I know, I’m quite the contrary Mary, but I can buy into a goal over 12 months and then break that down into manageable chunks.
For example, I have a list of 46 things that I want to achieve in my 44th year – it was meant to be 44, but then I thought of more. None of these have a set deadline, but they are listed in my little book of dreams and I’m working my way through each one to break them down into steps. And if one of them isn’t something I can break down, or it ceases to be something I want to do, it’ll be exited and replaced.
It all sounds easy, but it all relies on your mindset. If you’re feeling lost and helpless, then it won’t be something you chime with presently, but it might be a general sense that you no longer want to feel this way, in which case there’s a goal for you. And what better goal than investing in yourself and making sure you don’t have to feel this way for too much longer.
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