When we set goals we have the best intentions of achieving them. Some goals are achievable through minimal (relatively speaking) effort and some are tough and require considerable planning and application. What one person considers tough may be a stroll to another.
Goals are personal.
As a disabled guy the most challenging goals are in being able to climb stairs or walk through a crowd. It may sound ridiculous but even the thought of catching a train, or any form of public transport, can turn me cold.
For every goal worth attaining there are, it seems, barriers.

Common barriers (for me) include:

  • Lack of confidence
  • Fear
  • Physical Limitation

There’s a distinction between having a lack of confidence and the more powerful emotion of ‘fear’. For me fear is a brick wall. No matter how hard I try and how much I am able to do to instil confidence in myself, that over-riding sense of fear seems to block my path to success.
Fear and physical limitation are linked.

But what is the fear?

A fear of hurting myself? A fear of looking ridiculous? Or a fear of failure?
Personally I’ve become used to the risks involved with hurting myself. Goals are good but I have to be realistic and with limited mobility there’s a greater risk of injury.
The fear of looking ridiculous is something I am able to address, with varying degrees of success, on a case by case basis.

But the fear of failure haunts me. Failure is a huge emotion to have to process and something that I’ve struggled to accept my entire life.
Basic failure might manifest itself in not succeeding in a maths test or not being able to make the sunday league football team. These early memories of failure linger long and form a prickly and uncomfortable foundation for later life.

With disability comes the increased chance of failure when I consider anything that involves being active.
At this point in my thinking I often tend toward urging myself to ‘just do it’. The longer I ponder a situation the more likely I am to have conjured countless reasons I may fail or reasons not to even attempt it. But that’s an easy thing to say. Far less easy to put into practice.

I don’t want to live the negative life. I want to live the positive life.

To this end I prepare myself with positivity.
I envision that strong emotion of success and achievement upon reaching a goal. Furthermore I cut myself some slack and remind myself that if I don’t succeed the first time around, just brush myself down and try again.

Breaking down the barriers

If one thing’s for sure, the next time around I’ll have learned something and be better prepared.
Goals work best for me when broken down into a series of challenges. I’m comfortable with challenges. Challenges and rewards go hand in hand. With each challenge comes the satisfaction of achievement until the bigger picture presents itself as the attainment of a goal.

When I first began using crutches I was terrified of cinema trips. I’d pictured the cinema not as a means to enjoying myself in front of a large screen but as a flight of steps with narrow seating.
I’d pictured crowds of people queuing and a rush for the seats as the screen doors opened.
In my mind I’d envisaged every possible reason not to even attempt a cinema trip.
But with some thought I’d broken each of these barriers down into something far more realistic and manageable.

The steps and seating could be addressed by booking seats either in the disabled seating allocation or along the front row. No steps to handle there.
Actually pre booking seating meant that I’d only need to put my bank card in a machine, well away from queuing crowds, and wait in a seated area for the screen doors to open.
When the screen doors opened I waited for everyone else to be seated then casually walked in a found my own seat.

The first time I did this I waited a good 5 to 10 minutes after the last person had entered the screen. The adverts were still playing and the main feature didn’t start for about another 10 minutes after that.
No amount of advanced knowledge of the layout of the cinema would have helped. It was all about just accepting that each phase of this ‘goal’ could be taken in turn.

If I needed the bathroom mid film I was free to stand and leave the screen without pushing past people.
Whereas once upon a time I’d be stuck behind negativity and reasons why I ‘couldn’t’, I now embrace the positive and look to reasons why I can. Better still, reasons why I will succeed.