5 tips for setting New Year's goals when you're chronically ill

The beginning of January can be a tough time for those who have chronic illness. We're reflecting on a difficult 2018, and may be starting the new year still really struggling with our health. Our friends and family are posting on social media about their "amazing 2018", and we're reminded of hospital stays, doctors appointments, and things we missed out on because of our illness.

Many of us may be wondering, "When is it going to be my year?".

There's no way to know what 2019 has in store for our health, but I do believe it's possible to live a meaningful life regardless of circumstances.

These are some tips I find helpful for setting goals as a spoonie:

1) Don't set goals that are out of your control

Last year, I made the mistake of setting a lot of health-related goals that were completely out of my control. For example, "I will be well enough to travel for work by the summer" or "I will be able to go climbing again by the fall." When those times rolled around and I wasn't able to do those things, it only led to disappointment.

This year I vowed to only make goals that I could keep no matter what my health looks like. That way, if my health continues to be poor, I won't have to deal with the disappointment that can come with health-related goals.

Here are a few examples:

  • write in my journal once a week
  • read scriptures daily
  • help as many chronically ill people as possible
  • share a blog post at least once a month
  • make more youtube videos

2) Celebrate the small wins

Be proud of yourself for the things you accomplish. Sometimes our "wins" might look a little bit different than they used to, but it helps mentally and emotionally to find things to celebrate. Whether it's going to the grocery store, doing your physical therapy, or even getting out of bed, I think that's awesome!

3) Remember it's okay to be sad

Chronic illness is so, so difficult. I will never discount that. Though try my best to be positive and hopeful, I do take time to mourn the things I've lost through illness. Don't beat yourself up if you need to cry. It's okay. You don't need to supress your feelings. They are absolutely valid and real.

If you struggle with depression, please seek help. It is so common in the presence of chronic illness. You are not alone.

4) Find joy amongst the pain

Little moments of joy are what have carried me through some of my hardest times. Try to find something to laugh and smile about everyday, even if it's small.

Last summer, Jake and I would sometimes take night drives up the canyon right by our house in our little old convertible. Feeling the mountain air and seeing the stars in the sky was therapeutic for me. Though I was very sick and it didn't necessarily take away my pain, it gave me joy.

Joy for you might look different than it used to. But chronic illness truly brings us perspective, and we learn to cherish the small miracles that God provides us along the way.

5) Share your story

When I first got sick, I didn't want anyone to know. I was embarassed, ashamed, and worried about how people would react. The last thing I wanted to do was share my story.

I've slowly gained the courage to share what I'm going through with others, and I've found so much purpose in it. No matter what it takes, I want others suffering with chronic illness to know that they will never fight alone.

This year, I want to be more open not only among the chronic illness community, but also with my family and friends. Remember, if you share what you're going through with others, you're more likely to receive the support, love, and care that you so desperately need.

It's my greatest hope that this year will bring all of us health improvements. But even if not, we can feel peace in knowing that God is guiding our steps.

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