When I teach a Life Skills class to students with mild cognitive impairments, there is always a unit on goal setting. The first thing I have to do is teach the students about the difference between dreams and goals. I remember when Emo Man was young and dreamed of being a soccer star. The problem is that he did not play soccer on a team. His idea of soccer was a bunch of kids in elementary school goofing around at recess with no rules, officials, coaches or training. Lurch was going to be the leader of a famous rock band. He did not play an instrument and I never heard him sing, except during his very brief stint with the young mens choir in 7th grade. Dreams, fantasies, unrealistic, probably fun to think about, but never attainable for them.
A dream becomes a goal when you make a plan and follow it. So many students make the goal of getting better grades. They rarely think about the work that goes into that goal- paying attention in class, taking notes, reading what is assigned and making sure they understand it, doing the assigned homework, preparing for tests, asking for help. The fact is that reaching goals takes planning, hard work and sacrifice. I always wonder why some people have the discipline to make and reach goals and others remain in the same old rut, maintaining that life has dealt them bad cards and they are helpless to make a change.
I am at an interesting point in my life. I have more freedom than ever and had the best summer of my entire life. I have a career that I love and wonderful friends. The goal is missing. What next? Where am I going?
The practical side of me says that I should strive to be debt-free: pay off my student loan, the two medical bills, and finish paying my parents for my car. A house of my own is another dream that I would like to make a reality. Since Handy Man got half the value of my retirement in our settlement, I will not get half of the equity from our home. I can get financed without the big down payment but will have to pay private mortgage insurance, which would make my house payment larger than I want. The selfish side says that I don't want to work two jobs to reach my goals. I don't want to give up my fun time and I most of all don't want to give up time with Jabber Box.
Look at that, my two main goals require more money than I make. Grrr. Looks like I will be putting in job applications during spring break and pray that I can get some decent pay and flexibility to work around my time with Jabber Box. Fun, fun - NOT.