Are you a dreamer?
I sure am!
I absolutely adore thinking and dreaming up big plans and goals. The idea of fresh starts and new ideas spurs on excitement in my core. Growing up, I couldn’t wait for the first day of school each year. The newness of crisp notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and clean erasers made me quite the happy camper.
For me, enjoyment can be found in laying out goals with a plan in mind.
But now, as we approach the new year, I find myself contemplating how goal setting should look when battling chronic illness.
Realistically, my goals may not come to fruition.
It won’t be for a lack of trying or desire. It might be because as hard as I try, my body and mind just won’t let me do it all.
I’m learning that it’s okay. It’s all right to be unable to achieve everything we want, even if the world around us gives us messages about working harder and prioritizing.
Those of us with chronic illnesses are already fighting an uphill battle just to get through the day.
Even with the best intentions, I am living in a season where I have no idea how I will feel from day to day. I never know if I will be able to function enough to complete normal tasks, let alone strive to successfully meet goals.
Are you in a similar place?
Do you suffer from a chronic illness?
If so, I’m sorry for what you are going through. I wish that none of us had to deal with this kind of pain and difficultly. Battling chronic illness is a hard road to walk, but I have found that there are sweet blessings when we give up control and let go of expectations for how life should look.
This past year of battling chronic Lyme Disease and co-infections has taught me more about contentment than I could have imagined. I feel like I’m finally getting to a place where I can actually let God lead me instead of trying to control everything on my own.
So, here I am (and we are), getting ready to end 2016 and move forward in 2017, hoping to be intentional.
How do we set attainable goals? What should we remember when we set goals?
Here are a few tips to help us prepare to set goals for the coming year.
6 Tips for Goal Setting with a Chronic Illness
1) Start With Prayer
When you begin to think about your goals for the coming year, ask God for guidance. Psalm 37:4 (NIV) says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” When we seek God for His will for our lives, He will put on our hearts desires for things to do. Pray about the goals you feel you should set before you move forward with setting them. Ask God to show you anything you may be missing.
After goals are set and you begin to work on them, remember to continually pray. Ask God for help and guidance.
2) Know the “Why” Behind Every Goal
This tip is important because it helps light more fire under you to accomplish your goals. If you have a specific reason why you should complete tasks related to a goal, those tasks will become more meaningful.
For example, if you want to start a non-profit to help others who also suffer from your chronic illness, each time you seek out funding sources can be seen as meaningful and beneficial instead of awkward and uncomfortable (as asking for money can often be). If you want to raise $10,000, know why that amount is significant and why it matters toward your end goal.
3) Let Go of the Pressure to Please Others
No matter if you’re chronically ill or not, we all face pressure to please other people. When you’re sick, though, it seems like everyone has ideas about what you should or shouldn’t be doing or how you should or shouldn’t be feeling. Please remember when setting your goals that you need to make sure your goals are actually YOUR goals, not goals other people have for your life.
In being sick, I’ve learned that life is too short to try to live up to other people’s expectations for my life. So, I seek to let go of the pressure to please them.
4) Give Yourself Benchmarks
You may have an ultimate goal in mind, but what are some mini-goals that you’ll need to accomplish on the way to the bigger goal? Can you break up your big goal into more manageable chunks? Think about goals in terms of large, medium, and small goals. What are the small goals that you can achieve on the way to the large ones?
It will help give you a sense of accomplishment if you can first achieve some of the small goals. That confidence may spur you on to achieve the larger ones. And then, if things get too rough with your health and you can’t achieve the ultimate goal, you’ll still be able to strive for and hopefully attain smaller goals.
One of the best examples of benchmark goals that I can think of used in weight loss. If someone wants to lose 30 pounds, they don’t usually just strive to lose all 30. That may be the ultimate goal, but they might set the goal of losing 5 pounds in a month. Once that 5 pounds is gone, they set another small goal and continue with that pattern until they reach their ultimate goal.
5) Make Plans and Set Goals, But Don’t Hold Onto Them Too Tightly
Setting goals and making plans are great things to do, but remember that it is okay if things don’t work out as planned. Being flexible is something many of us with chronic illnesses are continually learning. When we set goals, it’s important to hold them with open hands. When we hold onto goals too tightly and things with our health gets in the way, bitterness and discouragement can creep in. Our lives look a lot different than the average healthy person’s life, so we need to remember to give ourselves grace and embrace what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t.
6) Be Okay With Readjusting and Re-evaluating
This one goes along with not holding onto plans and goals too tightly. If you set a goal and later recognize that it’s not as realistic as you had first thought, it’s okay to change plans. It’s okay to readjust and change the goal. It’s also okay to decide that the goal wasn’t actually for you and let go of it.
I’ve had to readjust with some writing goals. As much as I love to blog and put out content regularly, some weeks my health is so bad that I don’t do anything but lay in bed with a heating pad while listening to podcasts or watching Netflix. Sometimes I can barely move and can’t formulate thoughts. Those weeks, I readjust my expectations for what I will accomplish and push back my goal of completing a blog post to the next week. It might not be the timeline I had intended, but it ends up being okay.
I hope these tips help you think through some of your goals to realistically determine what you would like to accomplish. Setting goals can be helpful in giving you an extra push to accomplish the things you desire, but please remember to give yourself some grace as you battle a chronic illness!
Now, I’d love to hear from you! What are some goals you’re thinking about setting? Leave your ideas in the comments below!
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