As we start the new year, we talk a lot about setting goals and accomplishing new things in the coming months. In order to achieve your goals here are a few “tips” that can help you in achieving the goals you have set!
#1 Pace yourself.
Pushing too hard may result in a flare-up that can keep you out of commission for a significant time. Instead, experiment and discover your ideal rhythm. It may be, for example, that you do best by resting for 15 minutes after each hour of exertion. This can feel counterintuitive, especially if you are enthusiastic or under pressure to achieve a goal. However, deliberate rest breaks typically increase your stamina.
Think of the race between the turtle and the hare—the slow and steady pace won. It is also more productive to schedule downtime than it is to fight until the pain is too intense to ignore. Our bodies respond better to gentle treatment.
#2 Start with what matters.
It is much easier to feel motivated about achieving your top priorities. Labors of love can provide a wonderful distraction from pain and reveal hidden energy reserves. As for things that have to be done, give yourself a pep talk and dive in. Keep in mind the tremendous relief that comes from chipping away at obligations—but whenever possible, balance your energy between responsibilities and pleasures.
#3 Plan for comfort.
Consider what helps you feel good as you work toward your goals. When you anticipate physical challenges, be proactive with your pain management strategies. Select environments where you feel your best and can take care of yourself.
Whenever possible, try to devise an ideal workspace where your comfort is the focus. You may create this space by including a quiet place to lie down as needed, a heating pad for your back, your favorite cushion, soothing or energizing music, or earplugs.
#4 Divide and conquer.
While the big picture may be exciting, facing it head-on can feel overwhelming. Divide your project into manageable pieces. It is helpful to think about the conditions under which you can approach different sorts of tasks. Be creative. Planning, for example, can be done while reclining, walking, or even floating in a pool. Reserve the most labor-intensive parts for the times of the day when you are at your best.
#5 Accept what is.
No matter how well you plan, pace, and adapt, there will be times that you find yourself unable to meet a goal you set. Use that experience to continue to learn what would be most realistic, and—if necessary—adjust the original goal and timetable. When others are depending on you, it is especially important to be mindful of your process.
If you suspect that your original goal was too ambitious, communicate this early and clearly with others and try to negotiate an alternative. At times, however, we all have to let things go. This can be painful, but is an inevitable problem, even for those who do not have the added difficulties of chronic pain and fatigue. When this happens, go back to what matters most. Remember that you can revisit, and reconsider valued goals at a later time.