Yes, you can and should still have goals when you’re chronically ill. Why might you ask? You may be thinking, “I can’t do what I used to be able to do.”
While that may be true, I think it’s important to set reasonable and realistic goals for ourselves that are outside of getting a diagnosis or getting better. Goals can help give us a purpose, and it can help expand our world a little, which seems to diminish the sicker we are.
I didn’t always set goals once the Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) arrived. I sat through depression and just existed for a while.
Then when I went into remission, I pushed back goals because I was waiting until I got back to 100%. I would actually say to myself, “When I get better, I’m going to do X.” Or “That sounds like something I’d like to do when I get better.”
Well, it’s been almost a decade, and I haven’t made it back to 100% yet.
Unfortunately, instead of continuing to get better like I thought I would, I relapsed. After nine months of denying I was relapsing, I finally conceded to my body and acknowledged to myself that I would probably be living with FND forever.
It was around that time I decided I was going to stop waiting for my body to get back to 100%, and I was going to start living my life right now.
It wasn’t going to be the life I originally dreamt of having. Still, I was determined to live my life to my fullest capacity taking into consideration any accommodations I may need.
Once I allowed myself to stop waiting for the perfect time to live my life again, doors opened for me, and goals and dreams started flowing back to me again.
My goals weren’t the same as they were before FND because I had changed, but they were still new and exciting.
One of my first goals was to find ways to work from home, and then I was inspired to create this blog based on the frustrations I dealt with while working in corporate while chronically ill.
In recent years, I’ve started thinking about vacations I want to take my kids on someday and what accommodations I may need to make it all happen.
Setting Goals Outside of Your Chronic Illness or Getting Better
I would avoid setting goals that are directly related to your chronic illness, getting better, or going into remission. Having a chronic illness could mean treatment options may or may not be widely available, or they may not work for everyone. You are not always in control of your body when you have a chronic condition.
If you push yourself too hard, you could have a flare or relapse. You could be willing yourself to get better, and the likelihood of that working out is probably pretty slim.
Having a setback with your chronic illness is hard enough on its own, but if getting better was your primary goal, it could be devastating if you don’t succeed.
Setting Goals Around Your Overall Health
I do believe setting goals around your overall health can be extremely beneficial goals. How are these different than goals specifically related to your chronic illness?
Let’s take a look.
Maybe you’re stuck in a rut that you want to get out of, so perhaps you want to start expressing gratitude every day or practicing self-compassion. This goal could be about changing your thinking to a more positive mindset or to reduce stress. Will it help your chronic illness? Maybe, but could it have a positive effect on your overall health? Absolutely.
Another example may be to start eating the recommended daily consumption of fruits and vegetables. You could do this by tracking how many fruits and veggies you eat daily or you can do it with accountability in a 30-day challenge. Could this reduce your chronic symptoms because you’re adding more nutrients to your body? Maybe, but it will help your body overall, and you will probably start feeling better in general.
Setting Non-Health Related Goals
There are plenty of non-health related goals, such as starting a new hobby or learning a new skill, having a work-related goal, or going out and doing something you haven’t done before. The possibilities are endless once you open yourself up to dreaming again.
Tips on Setting Successful Goals
1. Make it a realistic goal that you can do with your current body and not the body you wish you had.
If you really want to do something that could be a trigger for your symptoms, try and think outside the box. How could you do the activity in a way that didn’t trigger your symptoms? Do you need seating, a wheelchair, sunglasses, a hat, earplugs, smaller crowds, etc.? Can you or with the help of a friend/family member make those accommodations happen for you to achieve this goal?
2. If you lack mobility, look into a goal that doesn’t require much movement, such as a mindset change that you can do anywhere.
This is something I stumbled upon by accident, but living with a positive mindset has changed my outlook on life. You can read about it in my post called 9 Practices to Embrace a Positive Mindset while Living with Chronic Illness.
3. Acknowledge that achieving your goal may take longer than if you were well.
And that’s okay. Try breaking the goal down into smaller parts. Maybe this year, your goal is to complete part 1 of 2 of your ultimate goal.
This is something I did have to come to terms with, but as long as I keep chugging along, I can usually do what I set my mind to. And that feeling of accomplishing something you set your mind to is priceless.
Let’s set ourselves up for success. 🙂 We can do this!
Once you’ve set your goal, be sure to post it in our community Facebook Group so we can cheer you on!
Happy Goal Setting!