Goals without strategies 

After my last post, I thought more about it, realizing that perhaps I did fail to achieve three important goals. I had promised four years ago that I would never lie again. I sincerely believed what I was saying as I made that promise.

Yet, since then, I lied to my wife by not telling her I was covertly smoking for several months. Also, since then, I lied to her by saying I did not click on an Internet link purporting to show “women you won’t believe exist” or something stupid like that. In the former case I had told myself it was not a threat to our marriage because it did not involve sexual malfeasance; an irrelevant excuse given that lying itself was a threat to our marriage. In the latter case, I told myself that I hadn’t “really clicked” the link because while the page was slowly loading on the screen (though I did see a few of the photos) I was able to close it and direct my attention to something healthier; also irrelevant because it overlooks the fact that I did not immediately tell my wife the whole truth.

How can I keep this promise and achieve this goal going forward? In the smoking example, I could have prevented that failure by imagining that my wife, boss, mother, or anyone else, was with me as I smoked. I also should have just nipped it in the bud right away by immediately calling or writing my wife as soon as the temptation first crossed my mind. The same strategy would have helped with the click-bait sin: imagine I am not alone, and call or write to report the temptation.

Second, I had promised that I would “do recovery work” forever. But, a couple months ago, after we moved to a new house and new job, I lazily started skipping “the work” and just moving on to other activities. Again, I had genuinely believed myself when I had promised to always “do the work.”

How can I prevent this kind of failure in the future? What happened? At the time I was depending heavily on Recovery Nation as my means of doing “the work.” This created a vulnerability in my behavior. It required Internet access, and I did not have reliable internet access for several days during the move. That made it too easy to neglect my good habit of doing “the work.” So, perhaps the solution is that when moving or traveling I should plan ahead and have available some book or writing project that helps me do “the work” without the internet. I should try to anticipate my own lazy excuses and try to mitigate them.

Third, I had promised I would always regularly consult a mental health practitioner. Yet, I let too many weeks pass after our most recent move before finding a new therapist. I think I had convinced myself it would be too difficult to find a new therapist in our new location without help.

How could I have prevented this failing? Now that I know it is possible to consult a therapist via phone or computer, from anywhere in the world, I should be able to retain the same therapist for months or years. In addition, perhaps, if my current therapist ever becomes permanently unavailable, I should make the search for a replacement top priority. Top priority means it would be the first non-work endeavor I pursue each morning until it is completed. That certainly means it would come before compulsive tidying of the house, pleasure reading, or other optional projects.

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