Setting and reaching goals is tough when you have fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or any other chronic pain disorder, but that does not mean we shouldn’t set them. We just need to customize how we go about it. I try to set some kind of resolution each year. I am learning how to be realistic about what I can accomplish.
Why Set Goals?
Having something to work toward is good for us. It can give us some structure, improve our self-esteem, and, as we reach our goals, it is actually therapeutic. With the feeling of accomplishment, there comes a release of norepinephrine in our brains, and most of us with chronic pain disorders do not have enough of these particular neurotransmitters.
However, goal setting can backfire if we are not realistic with ourselves. We do not want to set ourselves up for failure, and for the negative feelings and guilt that go with it.
Setting Realistic Goals
Being realistic, means taking into account our limitations. If you remember, I had done a series of articles about limitations and how to find them. We do not have to expect too much from ourselves. Be good to yourself and set small goals.
Be sure to consider all of your resources. Do you have the time, energy, money, etc. to reach your goal? Again, be good to yourself and set smaller goals. Trust me, you will feel better about who you are.
Here are some goal-setting guidelines I read about:
• Think in baby steps. Break your goal into small parts so you can see each step as an accomplishment. That can keep you from being overwhelmed, and give you more opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment.
• Build in more time than you think you need. You do not want to beat yourself up for getting behind, and yet your energy levels are unpredictable. Expect delays and plan for them.
• Write your goals down. Research shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to reach them. Try putting them somewhere where you will see them regularly.
• Re-evaluate periodically. Every so often, look back at how much you have accomplished and see whether your expectations were unrealistic. Change what you need to.
• Identify potential barriers and ways to overcome them. Make a list of the things that may keep you from reaching your goal, or things that have kept you from reaching it in the past. Then, find solutions.
Here’s an example:
Last year, I had resolved to lose weight. I used that point thing. The one where there are points assigned to specific foods and you are only allowed so many points per day. Because of my illnesses, and the meds I take, this type of weight loss was not ideal for me.
Therefore, this year I decided I would stretch that out over 2 years, cutting the total loss I want for the year in half. Moreover, I am adding in some walking to help with specific barriers.
I will still encounter setbacks and obstacles, but I am going to be realistic and know that I will so that when they come up I won’t be so hard on myself.
Do you have any resolutions for 2011?
What is your plan for reaching them?
What helps you reach your goals, and how will you overcome your barriers?
How has setting and reaching your goals changed your life? Let us know.
Happy New Year
Member and contributo to The Fibromyalgia Digest