Making goals with chronic illness

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Happy New Year! This is the time of year when people like to make resolutions, goals, out with the bad, in with the new, right?

It can be hard to face that if your health is poor or unpredictable. However, please don’t lose hope. There are some things you can do to make goals for the new year.

Short term goals are good

I like to make short-term goals, and then not give myself strict deadlines. For example I write a to-do list but don’t worry if I don’t cross things off in one day, I just leave it until the next day.

Be Realistic

A few months ago, it was very unrealistic for me to think that I might be able to do what I have energy for on an average day now. I knew my limits. So I usually only planned one thing per day, because I’d need the rest of the day to rest. Some people may need 3 days to rest after.

Making health goals

Making health goals can be done with or without your doctors input. Instead of making goals for how you will feel, make goals on which health issues you want to address. That’s the part you can control. For example last January, I made a goal to address mold poisoning and some other genetic issues I had heard about through a lyme conference. When I did treat them, I felt better. But my goal was to find a proper treatment, not to get better, since that part is not always in my control.

Making personal goals

It can be hard for a lot of people who are sick to make personal goals. Perhaps your hobbies were taken away by your illness. I am unable to do pottery which I loved, due to a bad back. Bad joints keeps me from skiing which I loved in my old life. It took me awhile, but I found new hobbies which I could do within my limitations. Even when my hands were so painful I could not type, I still listened to books on tape and used Dragon Dictate to help me “write”.

I see a lot of sick people give up on personal goals. I do think that trying to find something you can still do and carrying it out can help with depression and hopelessness. Some people even find connection with others is a good goal. If you are sick, perhaps finding like-minded people or others with your same illness online can be a goal so you feel less hopeless.

Diet Goals

Many a year and different times of year I have had diet goal or “resolutions”. Sometimes with diet it can be easier to ease into it rather than be too strict. However others like to clean the house of the forbidden food and then go cold turkey. In the case of diet, dates can be helpful. I like to make a goal like, “No sugar until Valentine’s day”, so I know I will have a good stretch of time where my body can heal from the sugar. Then if I really still want it on that date, I will indulge. My body has had a break so that small amount of sugar will not be as harmful as the daily impact.

This year I want to add in more juicing. Since my nausea has been much better, I can tolerate juicing more. Therefore I think it’s reasonable I want to juice a few times a week. So far this past week I’ve done a good job at it. If I forget for a few days, no sweat but I’ll try to remind myself to get back on track.

Setbacks

We all have setbacks from reaching our goals. Try not to give up. I like to give myself a day to just recover if it’s been a tough time (like driving for me, it really takes me down!) I used to have to take a few days or a week. It’s OK to do and don’t feel bad about it. In fact not taking that time can mean even worse health issues. If your body says stop, stop.

Again I mention not having too strict of a deadline. If you have a goal of reading a book a week, and you fall short, you will perhaps get down on yourself. Change expectations but keep the essence of that value of reading, for example to 2 books a month instead.

Hope this was helpful! I have been able to make life changes by setting goals. It makes me sad to see other people with chronic illness giving up on goals for fear of failure. Perhaps you can really change your life to be healthier or happier, or both by setting a realistic small goal. Just keep at it and change can happen.

Happy New Year! Wishing you all a happier and healthier 2014.

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