The Mighty Logo

My Goals for the New Year as a Person With Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

One of my best friends, Lisa, works as a Senior Financial Analyst for a global company. She has this gift of being meticulously calculated and goal-oriented in every aspect of her life. Recently we were on vacation together with our husbands and she posed the question to all of us over dinner, “What are your goals/resolutions for 2018?” She then proceeded to list several categories in which she had made both individual and family goals. She had strategies laid out, complete with tactics and deadlines in order to foster success and achievement. It was beautiful and inspiring, and reminded me once again that my bestie could seriously run the world.

I love these types of conversations. They allow me to learn more about my friends, and open my mind to other opportunities I could pursue. Oddly, though, this conversation caught me off guard. I hadn’t thought at all about goals for 2018.

Something about this year feels different. Maybe it’s because 2017 was actually a great year of professional development for me, and I feel like riding that out a bit longer. Maybe it’s because I am turning 3-0 this year, and I just wish life would slow down for a hot second.

Or maybe it’s because 2018 marks my fifth flip of the calendar while being sick, and the idea of goals seems exhausting and futile. The past several years of unmet goals and unattainable resolutions has taken its toll. How many times do I force myself to make goals only to be emotionally kicked in the shins when they are swiftly obliterated? Like the year I tried to “get healthy” and then got put on fludrocortisone and gained weight. That was cool. Or the time I tried to stop biting my nails only to be told that the nail polish I was using was counterproductive for the oximeter. Fantastic.

Do I really want to make new goals and resolutions this year? I struggled with this question for the rest of our vacation. Certainly nobody would fault me for taking a break from the pressure. It would be nice to just coast for a bit. Plus I’m just not sure I have the energy for it.

So is my answer to “What are your 2018 goals?” really going to be “I don’t have any?”

Heck no it isn’t!

That’s not who I am. That’s not who we are. If we all gave up, threw in the towel and cowered away because of failure, I wouldn’t be writing this, you wouldn’t be reading this and this entire community wouldn’t exist. We face daily battles and walk away with literal and metaphorical scratches, bruises, tears and headaches only to go to sleep at night knowing we are going to (Lord willing) get up and do it all again tomorrow. It’s just who we are.

So I urge you, make the resolution. Write down the goal. Grab your heating pad and NSAIDs and tackle all the things 2018 has to offer. There will be failures, that’s for sure. But this may also be the year that everything changes for the better! Maybe you get the diagnosis, the remission, the cure, the help, the hug, the inspiration. Maybe you find the right doctor, the right medicine, the right partner or the right life balance. Maybe one good day turns into a good week, a good month, or dare I say, a good year! Imagine the possibilities!

So I made goals. And in the name of transparency, here they are:

  • Be more honest with my doctors. Stop sugar coating or downplaying my symptoms or the impact my illnesses have on my life. If a treatment isn’t working, say it isn’t working.
  • When I begin to feel guilty about what I can’t do, attempt to refocus my thoughts: be grateful for my effort instead of angry about my limits.
  • Stop being afraid to ask for help. The worst thing people can say is “no.”
  • Write at least two cards of encouragement to friends or family per month.
  • Ride my bike more this year than I did last year.
  • Spend less time on my phone and more time engaging in real life. Try to limit mindless phone use to no more than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Take more baths.

Goals and resolutions with tactics and timelines. Lisa would be proud.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via Anna_Om on Getty Images

Originally published: January 18, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home