A lot of things have to be adjusted when you have a chronic illness. Goal setting isn’t an exception. If you continue to set your goals in the same way that you did before your illness, you are setting yourself up for failure.
I’m a huge believer in setting goals and then breaking them down into to-do list items with deadlines in order to achieve them. Unfortunately, when you have a chronic illness, it is just not something that can happen all the time.
It is still important to have goals and to put deadlines on those goals. You also need to give yourself some grace when your health won’t let you get things done.
Adjust Your Attitude
It’s hard not to focus on all the things that you’re aren’t getting done because of your illness. But it’s important to take the focus off these thoughts so that you don’t feel like the illness is taking control of your life. Instead, you need to focus on what you are accomplishing in spite of your illness.
One of the best ways that I’ve found to do this is to keep a list of everything you accomplished this week or month. I started trying to do it by day, but at least with my illness the days either have decent productivity or my illness makes me accomplish nothing. By extending the list to one week or month, you have a long enough time period that there really is a list of accomplishments.
Focus on your accomplishments instead of what you can’t do. You’ll be surprised at how much you are actually getting done. You’re accomplishing things, just not in large blocks but rather in little pieces that add up.
Adjust Your Deadlines
I made the mistake of not adjusting how I scheduled goals and projects when my illnesses first began affecting my ability to get things done. This set me up for some massive failures, at least in my eyes.
I have several ways that I use to keep myself from being too discouraged because I’m having to reorganize a lot of to-do items? I only put the next step on my to-do list for any given goal or project. That way, when I have to adjust things, I am only moving one to-do item. This way is doesn’t feel so overwhelming. And I always know what I need to do next when I have a good day.
Setting a timeline that doesn’t allow room for adjustments is just setting yourself up to feel like a failure. Adjusting a timeline isn’t a bad thing, especially if you have a chronic illness. It is being realistic.
When you have a chronic illness, the trick is to accomplish a lot when you’re feeling good. In order to do this, you need to keep a running list of the next to-do for each project. This allows you to know where to spend your efforts when you have some good moments. It ensures that you work on something that moves a goal or project forward. Without this list, you’ll accomplish a lot when you feel good but it wasn’t really the things that needed to be accomplished.
Hard Deadline Projects
What if the deadline for a project is a “hard” deadline? There are things in life that have deadlines set by outside factors. These are the hardest things for people with chronic illnesses to deal with. A good example from my life is my school classes. I’m trying to continue my education even though my illnesses have gotten a lot worse. In order to make that happen, I’ve had to make some adjustments.
First, I take most of my classes as online classes so I don’t have to worry about missing class meetings. This allows me to work on my classes whenever my health allows.
Second, I make a complete list of everything that needs to be done for each class. I add the “hard” deadline for each project. I then work backwards, noting the deadline for each step in order to complete the project on time.
This usually means that there are several things that I could put off starting on. But I know if I do that, my assignments probably won’t end up being on time. In order to complete the assignments on time, I have to start working on as much as I can immediately. The next step for every project goes on my master list so I can work towards completion when I’m feeling up to it.
By adjusting how you look at your accomplishments you really can reach your goals in spite of your chronic illness. In addition, adjusting deadlines to keep yourself from procrastinating the start of projects makes sure that you’re always make progress.
For some other ideas on handling chronic illness related problems, check out When a Bad Pain Day Hits and Chronic Illness and How to Adjust Life to Deal with Them.
What tips do you have for accomplishing your goals and dreams? Let me know below in the comments, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to adding your tips to my repertoire of options to keep my life moving forward.