In Chapter 4 we learnt that one of the difficulties which people with brain injury often report is ‘difficulty getting started’. This means that although a person may have things which they want to do somehow they have difficulty getting round to doing them or difficulty getting started. This is a problem which everyone experiences from time to time whether they have had a brain injury or not. If you have had a brain injury, however, especially if you have damage in the front of your brain, you are likely to experience this more often. You may worry that other people think that you are ‘lazy’. It is important to remember that this is not the case. You are not ‘lazy’. Your brain is just having problems helping you to get started. If the computers in the control tower of an airport are not working properly the aeroplanes can not get started either. If you have damage in the front of your brain it can be the same for you.
This chapter looks at things you can do to help you ‘get started’. Please read the whole chapter before you try to follow the ideas which are discussed. The chapter helps you work out the steps you need to complete a task.
The first thing you need to do is to decide what it is that you want to do. This is your goal. Below are a few examples of goals which other people have chosen in the past.
- Tidy up the garden shed
- Do an evening class in computing
- Go out for a meal with a friend
- Knit a jumper
- Write some Christmas cards
Decide if your goal is realistic. It is very important that your goal is achievable or possible given the abilities that you have. Sometimes people choose goals that are not realistic. For example, a person may want to ride a motorbike when they have severe visual problems. Someone else may want to work as a scaffolder off-shore when they have very poor balance. These goals would not be achievable for these people. They would have to choose other goals instead. If you are not sure if the goal you have selected is realistic ask someone close to you what he or she thinks. Once you are happy your goal is realistic you can go on to step three.
In step three you need to break down your goal in to the steps you need to take in order to achieve it. If your goal is to write Christmas cards, for example, there are several steps which you need to take to do this. First you need to decide whom you wish to write Christmas cards to. Then you need to decide how many cards you need. You have to go and buy the cards. You have to set aside time to write them and finally you have to put them in their envelopes and deliver or post them. In order to achieve your goal you need to complete all these steps and to complete them in the correct order. Over the page is an example of the steps you would need in order to bake a cake.
Steps to bake a cake
- Decide which recipe you are going to use
- Make sure you have the necessary ingredients
- Go and buy any ingredients you don’t have
- Weigh out the quantity of ingredients which you need
- Turn on the oven to the temperature stated in your recipe book
- Follow the recipe
- Put the cake in the oven
- Set an oven timer for the time required to cook the cake
- Remove the cake from the oven when the timer beeps
- Turn the oven off
- Let the cake cool down
- Eat it and congratulate yourself on your success!
As with the example of buying Christmas cards, it is necessary to follow all the steps in the correct order. Look at the goal you have chosen. Think of all the steps you would need to achieve this goal and try to write them down. If you have problems working out the steps you need to take or the order they need to go in ask someone to help you. Remember if you do have problems deciding this it is not your fault. Deciding which order to do things in is a common problem experienced by people who have had brain injuries.
Set a time to start work on your goal. Write this time in your calendar, diary or personal organiser.
Start work on your goal. Do the first step first. Cross it off on your list of steps and then go on to the next one. When you have completed the next step cross it off too, go on to the next one and so on. When you have done as many steps as you want to towards your chosen goal decide when you want to continue completing the steps and make a note of this in your diary. If you keep following this pattern, with help if necessary, your goal should soon be achieved.
By following the steps necessary your goal should be achieved. Congratulate yourself on your achievement. If your goal has not been completed it may be that one of the necessary steps was accidentally missed out. See if you can spot which one or ask someone to help you. Over the page you will see a form which is designed to help you get started. There is a space for you to write down your goal and also a space for you to write down all the steps you need to take in order to achieve this goal.