I’ve been reflecting recently on how my life is now full and rich with purpose and meaning. I remember asking both my therapist and mentor some time ago, ‘If I don’t have my eating disorder to think about 24 hours a day, what would I think about?’. I genuinely had no idea how life without it might look or what would occupy my thoughts. I was afraid to let go of that which was known, familiar, and stepping out into the unknown territory of recovery seemed scary! But I stand here, having discovered that when I stepped off that ledge, I didn’t fall, I found my wings and learnt to fly. That sounds so cliché, and perhaps it is, but the reality is, life is WAY better without ED. How do I deal with the fear of letting go though? Well, for me, the antidote to the fear of letting go is engaging more in life. As LIFE has filled up my days, there seems to be less room for the eating disorder. I’m not talking about getting so overly busy and distracting myself every minute of the day…this is equally detrimental to my health and well-being, as becoming too busy almost always precedes a lapse as I am still learning more appropriate coping strategies for dealing with being overwhelmed. However, having a life, an abundant life, has made a massive difference and has helped me to recognise that the eating disorder promises more than it delivers, destroys more than it protects, and hinders more than it helps. Being a part of my local netball team, the Deaf community, my church, and the sisterhood of recovery, has been far more rewarding and met my need for a sense of community, of belonging, of friendship, support, fun, and capacity to contribute.
When unwell, it was difficult for me to conceive of such a full and exciting life, as the eating disorder constricted me physically, mentally, emotionally and relationally. It was initially a difficult task, but my dietitian and therapists asked me to think about what I wanted for my future. Together they helped me to set some goals in various categories (work/study, health, relationships, etc). As I took steps towards recovery, these goals became increasingly important and crucial in maintaining a focus on moving forward. Whenever I wavered in my motivation, and ambivalence re-entered, I would read aloud one of my goals and state ‘I want to move forward’. I did this repeatedly, with increasing volume and conviction. Now these goals are more easily called to mind when the eating disorder thoughts arise and allow me to make an informed decision about what I want my future to hold.
I started off with creating some short-term goals in the areas of recovery, relationships, body image, health, work/study, values, personal growth, spirituality, creative expression, and community service. Then, with support, I began to see a little further into the future and envisage what life might be like at 18 months down the track, and then in 5 years time. Using these goals, I created posters as a visual reminder of where I was headed. There is an example of my Short-Term, Intermediate, and Long-Term Goal and Vision Boards at the bottom of this page. I have adapted these, removing my personal content, so that you may utilise them as a template for your own purposes. One has categories/headings to initially guide you and the other is blank for those who already have a clear idea of the areas in which they want to set goals. Each Goal and Vision Board is designed to allow you to indicate the length of time that is appropriate for where you are at, as ‘Short-Term’ may vary from individual to individual…perhaps as far as you can envisage is one week, for others, short-term may be 1 month, 6 months, or even 2 years.
It’s interesting to reflect on where I am and from where I have come. I created these Goal and Vision Boards over a year ago now, and I have actually already accomplished much of that which I originally only dreamt of. It is definitely time for me to reassess my goals and visions for the next 3 months, 18 months, and 5 years. That’s the great thing about goal setting – you can track how far you have come; remind and challenge yourself to take steps forward in areas you have perhaps neglected; and regularly revise goals based on your growth and circumstances.
I have been filled with hope, excitement, and deep contentment as I have reflected back on my journey and written this section, and I trust that you might also experience this as you set your own goals and accomplish them.
Short-Term Goal and Vision Boards – Example, With Categories, Blank
Intermediate Goal and Vision Boards – Example, With Categories, Blank
Long-Term Goal and Vision Boards – Example, With Categories, Blank