Goal Setting

Goal Setting

Achieving Your Goals

In today’s hectic pace of life, it is common to lose sight of the destination we are headed to because we are too busy focusing on the road. Day-to-day life and the routines of work and family life take over all the available time and before you know it, the earlier goals and  aspirations are a thing of the past. However, in order not to lose sight of where you are headed, I have put together just three simple ways which have helped achieve my goals. These are tried and tested means which have been passed to me by my mentors- educationists and successful businesswomen. These strategies can be used for any number of situations. The concepts can be extrapolated to suit the present situation and may evolve to include your specific goals.

Start with the end in mind

It is a good idea to start with the end in mind. This means having a clear idea about what your end-point looks like. Use visualization to mentally “see” the picture of what success means for you.  For example, a student may visualize himself or herself completing a graduate degree in the long-term,  or passing an exam within a specific grade-range. Or maybe the goal is to buy a house or set up a business. Add as much detail as possible to this goal. What does achieving the goal feel like? How are you placed financially at that time? Who are your associates or colleagues? Where is your office? What does it look like? How does your home look?

Having all these details sets up your mind for success and subconsciously it works  to achieve these goals. Some psychologists believe that the mind cannot distinguish between what has happened and what you visualize in rich and vibrant detail. Therefore it is doubly important to feed your mind positive images and thoughts. Negativity can actually undermine your chances of success as your mind then starts believing you have already failed.

 Sharpen the saw

Sharpening the saw is a metaphor for working on yourself getting the tools of your trade up to the mark. A woodcutter is not going to get very far with a dull or weak saw. Likewise,  It is imperative that you acquire the skills needed to succeed. No amount of organization or visualization will  get you to the finish line unless you have developed the skills to get you there. Do not be satisfied with being average or mediocre but aim to become the expert in your chosen field, whatever that may be. I have met several people who rate different work as good or bad, or don’t  undertake work they consider is beneath them. Understand that no work is superior or inferior in itself.  It is what you make of the work that gives you an edge over the others who may be doing the same thing.

 Keep on keeping on

While I was studying towards my doctorate, my mentor and supervisor always advised me to “keep on keeping on”. It sounded odd, but as the long months and years of research, interviewing, writing, teaching, and preparing for the doctoral exam spanned on, it became clear that she was really talking about perseverance and resilience.  Perseverance, the ability to hold on to your dreams with tenacity, is a vital characteristic of successful people. Success does not come easily or readily. Sometimes it takes years, decades, or a lifetime before you can claim it. Resilience is the attitude which keeps you from breaking down in the face of difficulty and strife. It helps you get back on your feet after set-backs and helps you get back on track and headed towards success.

Attitude is Everything

Attitude is Everything

Note from Editor: Over the years I have had the opportunity to work alongside people with various disabilities. What stood out most for me was the attitude with which they went through life, surpassing challenge after challenge, not expecting any special privileges nor expecting any less from themselves. Here, one of my former colleagues, Tim Johnson, gives a first-person account of his serious injury which requires him to use a wheelchair for mobility, no movement from his chest down, and with limited use of both hands. His work ethic, academic achievements, success as a Paralympic athlete, his unlimited zest for life, his dedication as a father and sharp wit make his physical limitations seem very insignificant by comparison. In the six years I worked with Tim, I learnt the meaning of a “can-do” attitude. I realized how easy it was for able-bodied people to take their bodies for granted and how we focus on our inabilities rather than celebrate our abilities.

I broke my neck, C6/7,  in a car crash in 1995 and in hindsight  I am amazed I survived,  considering  I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, was likely speeding, the driver had been drinking and to top it all off I was in the back of a work van using a 10 litre paint can as a seat. I did my rehabilitation at a specialized spinal injury hospital and was there for just over 3 months. The only complication from rehabilitation and the injury was a few small bruises and I managed to get a pressure area on my right hip at about the 2 month mark. A real good lesson on why you should avoid these like the plague. Two weeks bed rest was a very real experience of why one should look after their skin. I had a great support network and I worked really hard during my stay so I basically left the unit in many ways very independent. This was I feel a very important thing as the more you can do for yourself the better. Going home was OK but a bit of a struggle as my mother’s home wasn’t modified by then so I spent a few months having to drive to an accessible venue to shower. Thankfully this wasn’t too long and eventually home was accessible and meant I could come and go as I please. The biggest part of my independence was when I eventually purchased a car. Driving independently was huge and something I cannot do without.

tim-johnson1I was studying toward a Bachelor of Engineering at University at the time of the injury so had a year away from study before returning full time, completing my BE Hons in 1997. I have done a lot more study since then and have a Diploma of Teaching, Master of Engineering, Graduate Certificate in Career Counseling for Elite Athletes papers and have recently completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Business Administration which is the precursor to an MBA while working full time as a Team Manager.

I have also had success on the sporting  field, playing and administrating in Wheelchair Rugby. The ultimate achievement was winning Gold at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games and being honored as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Disability Sport in August 2015.

There have been numerous challenges but overall, they have simply been an opportunity to overcome and learn from each experience. It might sound pretty cliché but it really is what makes us stronger and breaking my neck was overall just another one of life’s challenges. I’m often asked would I go back in time. I truly feel I wouldn’t as I have had so many opportunities due to my injury and done so much that I couldn’t imagine what things would have been like had I not had the injury. They would have just been different. Would I have studied as much as I have? Would I have seen as much of the world as I have? Would I have represented my country on the sporting arena? Would I have met such a great woman as my wife? Would I have 3 children, Toby almost 4 yrs old, and twins Phoebe and Ollie almost 2 yrs old? Would I be working in a great role within a great organization? I simply don’t know the answer to any of these.

I didn’t overly enjoy breaking my neck and don’t enjoy the issues that come as part of being tetraplegic with very limited function but one thing for sure is there’s nothing I cannot do if I truly want to do it, wheelchair or not. It might take a lot longer and be damn frustrating at times, however I am truly lucky to be alive and have the abilities I have. There is no doubt many individuals are far worse off than me so there is no point dwelling about things or complaining when things get hard.

I say to people to treat me the same as anyone else. I’m no different cognitively, I just can’t walk. I also recommend that if you wish to assist me, all you need to do is ask. 90% of the time I will reply with just a “thanks for asking, but I am ok” , in the 10% of instances that I do take up the offer I also ensure I thank them for helping no matter how small or large the act of service may be.

It’s a struggle but hard work is always going to be a struggle. The benefits and rewards from this make me who I am.  Try new things, learn other ways of doing things and learn from others. Do this and the injury in many ways disappears.


The Evil of Alcohol

The Evil of Alcohol

Nearly 4 in every 10 violent crimes involve alcohol, 4 in 10 fatal car crashes are alcohol-related and 4 in 10 offenders on probation, state prison or local jail, report they were using alcohol at the time they committed the crime (National Symposium on Alcohol Abuse and Crime, 1998). Violent crime and alcohol have had a long historical association. 7 out of 10 violent crimes related to alcohol take place within the home and are preceded by verbal argumentation and the perpetrator of the crime is usually the one who is intoxicated, according to a study published in the Journal of Addictions (Murdoch & Ross, 2009).

It would be appropriate to state that various social ills and their far-reaching effects on the individual, family and society, are due to the use and misuse of alcohol. On average 88,000 deaths are linked to alcohol per year in the US alone.

In Islam, the consumption of alcohol is strictly prohibited and alcohol is considered ‘haram’ or impermissible. The Quran explicitly states the forbidden in several places. For example:

O you who have believed, indeed, intoxicants, gambling, [sacrificing on] stone altars [to other than Allah], and diving arrows are but defilement from the wok of Satan, so avoid it that you may be successful. (The Quran, Chapter 5 Verse 90).

All intoxicants are prohibited in Islam, so modern drugs which have not been named in the Quran are not exempt from the prohibition. Intoxicants are regarded as one of the means for Satan to avert people from the right path which would make them successful in the worldly life and the hereafter.