I was thinking, and wrote about in my last blog about the main motivator of my life: engagement. This got me to thinking about how I seek out engagement and connection almost as if with blinders on. There is a spot on the horizon at which I try to stare. That spot is a place of success, personal success for me. I am not even sure of what goals reside there anymore, but I know that place is one where I am connected with the world, where I am engaged in creative exploits and doing something to keep myself active and out in nature and the world. The analogy of driving along a road is helpful to me. If I imagine my life as a road and that I am in a car (or on a bike) traveling towards a destination, I can put in place some very helpful psychological devices related to that analogy.
Along the road, there are icy patches and challenges: addictions, frustrations, depressive periods, bad choices, short-sighted impulsive actions and the like. This means the path is never, ever smooth. But I am learning and have found that if I focus on where I need to be heading, but not to the exclusion of where I am today, I am best off. I also have found that there are guardrails that keep me on track. Becoming aware of the pitfalls and oil slicks along the path, I have had to build guardrails to help keep the car on the road.
The guardrails that work for me are physical, real things that take me out of the mental derailing.
1) Hike everyday, so I stay in nature and in shape and truly see the world around me.
2) Church so as to remember to practice spirituality and realize that the "road" of my life is there for me to travel.
3) Give up vices and addictions...or at least rein them in. When they start to cause me to skid to the edges of the road, it's time for this guardrail to kick in and help stop the fishtailing.
4) Practice journaling and creative writing.
5) Get sleep.
6) Clean up my space - house, car, yard, etc.
What are the guard rails that help keep you on track?