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Being of a type-A personality, my life before chronic illness involved many lists and set goals. I had a 5-year plan, a 10-year plan and a packed weekly schedule. When I first developed my chronic illness, I struggled to get out of bed every day. Most days, I achieved nothing and it was disheartening. My 5-year plan went out of the window as I couldn’t see past my next doctor’s appointment. Last year, I set myself two goals: one personal and one professional and I managed to achieve them both. These days, I find that less is more when coming to setting goals for myself and I have found that I am much happier achieving two things per year than failing to get five things done in a month.
Here are my tips on how to set goals when you live with fluctuating symptoms:
1. Be flexible
When setting your goal, be realistic about how long it will take. You don’t have to set yourself a deadline if that feels like too much pressure. If you go at your own pace, then you’ll be more likely to succeed.
2. Be in control of your goals
For example, instead of setting a goal like ‘get a job’, your goal could be ‘apply for five jobs this month’. This way, you’re in control of achieving your goal and you will be more likely to succeed.
3. Adapt your goals as your illness changes
When you live with a chronic illness, your circumstances can change in an instant. be sure to adapt your goals when this happens.
4. Be realistic when setting physical goals
If you’re setting yourself a physical health goal, be realistic about your own abilities and limitations. Work with your doctor or physio to set a goal that is right for you.
5. Write it down
Write down your goal and stick it to your fridge or notice board. If your goal is staring you in the face every day, then you’re more likely to achieve it.
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