Most of us have been told since we were young that it is important to set goals. Goals provide the direction we need on the journey we call Life. Our goals may change as we age or be redirected in the face of challenges, but keeping your goals in mind can help you to get back on track when dealing with life’s speed bumps.
Many people, when faced with a life-changing event, feel that they miss the opportunity to set goals. There are good reasons for this feeling this way. Fear, anxiety, pain and a number of other challenges can impact your ability to think about next steps. Yet, many times a diagnosis or health emergency can help motivate us into setting goals, getting our lives in order, and taking the time to enjoy life.
When I was in the hospital, I was worried about how my life would proceed with my brain cancer diagnosis and the effect the treatments had on my mobility. I voiced these fears to my doctor and he felt it might help if I met with a psychiatrist. I was leery at first, as I did not want to be ‘labeled’ as depressed but agreed to see the psychiatrist. I was lucky as the doctor my team called in was able to see me while I was an inpatient. My husband and I were able to sit down with the psychiatrist in my room and discuss my diagnosis and other issues that were on my mind. She asked me how I felt about losing my job due to my condition. We talked about the fears I had about recurrence and the fact that currently I could not walk or drive. Having an opportunity to vocalize my feelings allowed me to process all of this information better myself.
In addition to my fears, I was also able to share some of the things I was hoping to do as I recovered. I let her know that I was excited about a trip we had planned to celebrate my husband’s 60th birthday and how I hoped I could still make this trip. She asked me a number of questions that helped her to determine how I was handling things. When we were wrapping up the meeting, she told me that she did not think I needed any medication. It was her opinion that I was handling the current situation well. She said she was impressed that I had goals and was looking forward to the future despite this untimely interruption. She said many of the things I was feeling were normal and I needed to give myself time to work through the changes and my fears.
Today, I still have many of the fears that I expressed to the doctor. But as I get more ‘control’ over my condition, and time moves on, I feel more positive and have begun to put many of the goals that I have into action. The blog you are now reading was one of those goals!
Having goals is important for many reasons and allow us to think about things that we want to do instead of the challenges that may limit our abilities. Goals help you put your priorities in order and live more in-the-moment. Don’t feel like you have to meet every goal all at once. List them on a sheet of paper; put them in order of priority for yourself and your family. Take the time to talk to those close to you about your goals. Sharing your thoughts allows others to help and to better understand your wishes.
To help you better understand what I mean, I have listed some goals that you might want to consider if you are living with a new diagnosis, a chronic condition, have suffered a life changing illness or injury, or even if you’re healthy. So here it goes….feel free to send me goals that you have changed during challenging times and how they helped you heal. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments below so others can benefit.
● Learn all you can about your condition: Give yourself time to do this, ask your doctors and/or members of your medical team for information that will help you understand your condition. Many people go onto the internet for information but without much direction. There is a lot of information on the Internet that might not be accurate or relate to you, so asking your doctor or team for sites they recommend will help you find reliable, pertinent information.
● Take charge: Do more for yourself if you can. Some examples are taking your medication yourself or following up on appointments. You might want to organize your bills so that you can review them to ensure your insurance company is paying and if you owe anything you will if the services were provided. Bills can have errors, so make sure you check them carefully. If you have questions you can then call the provider or the insurance company. Try to be as self-sufficient as you can.
● Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many people want to help you and it is important to let them. Make a list of things that you might need from the store and when someone asks what they can do, show them the list. Help from family and friends can allow you to get outdoors once in a while as well as give your caregivers some needed time off.
● Find out what you can do to improve your condition. This might be exercising to build up your strength after being in bed for a prolonged period of time, or learning how to test your sugars if you are a newly diagnosed diabetic. Many people have to monitor their blood pressure to see if they need to stay on their medication or determine if it needs to be increased or decreased. Depending on what needs to be done, ask your team for the equipment and instructions on how to perform the task. Today patient education is very important and should be part of the plan of care, so don’t feel that you are bothering someone when you ask for help.
● Take the time to read a book, color, paint, or finish up a project you might have started a while ago. Doing these things can take your mind off of yourself, lift your spirits and provide a sense of accomplishment.
● Get your affairs in order. Many people don’t have a Last Will and Testament. Having an illness or an injury can be the impetus that will spur you into action. See an attorney and get your affairs in order. This will help you and your family if anything happens to you or you are not able to express your wishes. Not having a Will puts your estate (even if you have a small estate) at risk. Taking care of this early on is very important and will give you peace of mind.
● Set up a healthcare proxy and inform the person you choose what you want to happen in case you cannot make decisions yourself. Having your proxy and your family understand your wishes allows them to speak to the medical team and ensure that the plan of care is meeting your goals. This will be part of what the attorney will assist you with when you set up your Will. When choosing a healthcare proxy, choose someone you trust and share your wishes with them as well as your family so all are aware. Knowing that you have this taken care of will also allow you to have peace of mind.
● Make amends with people you may have had challenges with in the past. You can do this by sending a note, an email or calling on the phone. Doing this allows you to put your affairs in order. This may seem hard, but in the end, you will feel better and be more at peace.
● If you are spiritual and or religious, take the time to renew your faith. Having something to believe in can help you cope with the challenges of an illness or injury. It is never too late to renew your faith and make amends with God. Many religious organizations have programs where people can come to your home if you cannot go out.
● Keep in touch with family and friends to renew your friendships and your relationships. Invite people to visit you so they see you when you are alive. This can be uplifting for you and the person. Call people and stay in touch. Today with email and social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, this is easier than ever.
● If you have a family event coming up, prepare to attend if you are able. Whether it is a wedding, a birth, a birthday party, or another event, going will mean a lot to your family and friends. It will also give you something to look forward to and allow you to feel more connected. Make sure you have the equipment you need to be safe when you travel and make the necessary arrangements. Your doctor’s office will assist you with the necessary equipment along providing any notes that you might need to travel so make sure you plan ahead so when the event comes you are ready.
● If you can take a vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to go to, do it. Don’t put things off. Remember that life is short and very unpredictable. So don’t put things off!
● Celebrate your successes even the smallest ones are important!
In closing, having goals can give you control at a time when you feel like life is spinning out of control. Setting goals helps you focus on what is important to you. Make a list and keep it close to you so you can add to the list or check things off as you achieve your goals.
Good luck and don’t forget to set goals!