New Year Goal Setting Strategies for Chronic Illness Warriors

by Ariela Paulsen
New Year Goal Setting Strategies for Chronic Illness Warriors

It’s the end of the year and that means New Year’s resolutions. But sometimes, it can be hard to do so, especially when you’re out of energy, or feeling miserable and in pain. But even at the hardest times, it’s still possible to set goals. There’s no better time to work on improving yourself than when things are the darkest.

There’s something about living with chronic illness that makes it doubly important to have a sense of control and accomplishment. Your New Year’s resolution should reflect that: it’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself and make yourself just a little better than yesterday.

But how do you go about it without setting yourself up for failure?

Here are some strategies we can take to make the New Year as painless as possible.

Keep it simple and easy

While aiming big and shooting for the stars is good and important, we also need to know ourselves and our capabilities. There’s nothing more important in the process than knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Set goals which are achievable, taking into consideration any physical limitations that you may have. At the same time, remember that you can still achieve great things no matter what your condition is.

Don’t be afraid to start with small, achievable steps.

Most times, we end up in a cycle of hopelessness and self-loathing due to what we are going through, and we end up underestimating ourselves. But at the same time, people living with chronic illness learn life lessons younger and sooner than others who don’t have any health obstacles. It comes with the territory.

And because of this, we often have a much closer connection with our goals, and they have more meaning to us. That’s because accomplishments carry so much more weight when you’re sick. Don’t be afraid to start with small, achievable steps.


Make the goals specific

The next thing to keep in mind when setting goals is to make them specific and measurable. A vague goal would be, “I want to lower my caffeine intake.” A specific, measurable goal would be, “I want to go down from five cups of coffee a day to two cups.”

It doesn’t matter what goal you set, but making it specific is important and much easier to track your progress.

Start with the Why

When setting goals, perhaps the most key component in the process is asking yourself “Why?” Why exactly are you setting this goal? What are you trying to achieve with this goal?

Sometimes we set goals just because it’s the trendy thing to do, or because it’s what society expects. Lose weight because society likes thin people. Wake up early because a normal day starts in the morning and not in the afternoon. Those are all well and good, but are they important for you personally? It’s especially important for people with chronic illness to make sure their goals work out for them and to make sure that you are working towards goals that are important for you with the limited time, resources and energy that you have.

When setting goals, make sure that they are relevant and important for you personally. We don’t have the luxury of going for everything as some other people might.

Plan for emergencies

One last thing to keep in mind. It’s important to give yourself an out. You can never tell what will happen when you are living with chronic illness. If you have a goal which needs you to do something every day, it’s important to make allowances for times when a medical emergency might strike that prevents you from doing your resolutions.

Create a system that takes into account your condition, and give yourself some free credits when you can excuse yourself. Make it a specific allotment like sick leaves from an office. Take too many and you know you have to step up or make it up some other way. Otherwise, the resolution loses its meaning.


It’s important to give yourself an out.

All things considered, New Year’s shouldn’t be something we lose out on just because of chronic illness. It’s the New Year, and there’s never a better time to turn a new leaf.

Share with us your goals for the new year. Join our Friends in the Fight group.

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