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6 Strategies That Can Help You Achieve Your Goals If You're Chronically Ill

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Last year, I accomplished all of the goals I’d set. This year, I plan to do the same, and so can you. After a near-death experience a couple of years ago, I asked myself, “What do I want most and why?” I first thought of my voice and how I was so afraid to use it. Why, you ask? I feared no one would listen. Self-acceptance was always an issue for me. I would think, “I won’t be successful because I have disabilities.” I didn’t want people to look at me in a certain way. But after watching the Golden Globes and how they were raising awareness of sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse with storylines about dreams coming true, I couldn’t help but think about what my future holds as a disabled adult. I have more than six diseases associated with the genetic disorder, DiGeorge syndrome, or 22Q11.2 deletion syndrome, and some days are difficult.

One of my goals in 2017 was to write a book. And I did it. I also wanted to exercise daily, because I have to. A specialist recently diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, and now, I have to reevaluate what I eat, how often I exercise, and how much sleep I’m getting. I created a series of strategies to make sure I’d stay on the right track and not lose sight of my goals. This year, I want to do things right and be effective in my pursuits. Here are my six strategies may help you achieve your goals in 2018 with (or without) chronic illness:

1. Establish a morning routine.

A morning routine will motivate you, set the mood and tone for the day. The first thoughts and things you do will produce a ripple effect, so beginning it the right way will make a difference. You can use this time to visualize your future, which is very motivating. I’ve found meditation to be extraordinarily beneficial as well. It has helped me be more mindful, from the food I eat to the choices I make.

2. Establish an evening routine.

Our bodies need at least a couple of hours to wind down and prepare for sleep. It’s not a good idea to work until the 11th hour and just plop into bed. Sleep is essential for chronic pain, and without it you won’t be effective during the day, especially if you work from home. Whatever floats your boat and brings you relaxation, a tranquil mind, incorporate those activities into your evening hours if they help you sleep.

3. Write down accomplishments and goals each night.

Journaling is a powerful resource you can use to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and much more. Instead of venting, write down the things you accomplished in the course of one day. Even if you write, “I cleaned my kitchen,” or, “I wrote 5,000 words,” or something bigger, that will do. Logging your progress will likely inspire you to keep pushing forward. By doing so, hopefully you won’t fall down the negativity spiral when you realize, “Wow, I did do a ton today!” It’s all about perspective. After you’ve written out your accomplishments, then write down your goals for the next day. A successful day often begins the night before.

4. Create an accessible workout schedule.

With an ever-changing schedule, this can be tough. It’s not always helpful to create a schedule months or weeks in advance. If you structure your life the day before, you’ll be more likely to succeed. You’ll want to exercise the next morning, if your body allows. You’ll stop dreading those workouts and find ways to enjoy them. Exercising is your time for you, to feel good, to eliminate pain. To build mental, emotional and physical strength. To empower yourself.

5. Go on nature walks.

Did you know that simply being in nature can rewire your brain? A couple of years ago, I relocated from a bustling city to a rural area and had noticed astounding changes in my mental and physical health. I’ve come to appreciate solitude and being alone. Sound therapy is a great tool for overcoming stress, anxiety, and depression. You’ll likely be inspired to be creative, balanced, and healthy. If it’s too cold, it might be hard to do this. It’s cold where I am. So, even if you go for a walk indoors and focus on your surroundings, it can get you out of your head for a while.

6. Build a network.

This is a big one. Building a network or support system of like-minded people who struggle with chronic illnesses as well will change how you think about your situation. It will allow you to connect with others and develop relationships. Talking with someone who understands, who knows what it’s like to endure pain, has encouraged me. You’ll need encouragement when the going gets rough or when you feel like giving up.

Don’t allow internal fears, doubts, and things outside of your control to dictate this year or your future. By incorporating some simple lifestyle changes, you can free up the time in your day and are likely to accomplish so much more. It’s important to not be hard on yourself and to let go of the past. How you treat yourself (as well as others) is more important than anything. So get your voices heard; we’re all here to make an impact and to encourage each other to achieve our highest potential and use our words in empowering ways.

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Gettyimage by: AntonioGuillem

Originally published: January 10, 2018
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