Living Well with a Chronic Health Condition, and The Importance of Setting Goals.

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Volume 16, Issue 2

Living Well with a Chronic Condition

Chronic health conditions with symptoms ranging from severe  to mildly  annoying, are quite  common. Some chronic  conditions,  just to name  a  few,  are diabetes,  cancer,   irritable  bowel  syndrome, chronic pain,  carpal tunnel   syndrome,   fibromyalgia,  arthritis, and chronic migraines. You may have a family member diagnosed with such a condition, or   you yourself may be dealing daily with its challenges. The good news is that not only can you learn to manage a chronic condition, but actually thrive in spite of it! Living well with a chronic condition means developing strategies that help you build a framework you can rely on when things get difficult, and to celebrate  when you  have successfully  integrated  those strategies into your  life.  Living well with ongoing illness or disease means YOU are in control of the illness to the greatest extent possible.

Strategies for managing a chronic condition

Get Educated:   Knowing    the    specifics    about your condition, treatment    plan and medications  puts  you  in  the  driver’s  seat.  The more you know, the better you can work with   your healthcare  providers  toward  the  best  treatment plan and best outcome. You are the most important person on your health care team.

Identify your Cheerleaders: Knowing  who is in  your  circle  of  support  makes  all  the  difference.  Identify  those  that  support  you  not  only emotionally,  but  those  that  can  support  you physically and socially. Even if you have a “mild version”  of  a  condition,  don’t  assume  others who  are  worse  off  may  not  want  to  hear  your story. They  know  what  you are  facing  and  can offer  support  and  ideas  to  manage  the  challenges!

Abandon Guilt: Protect your health and learn to say “no” without  guilt.  Only  you  know  your limits.  Overdoing  it  can  make  you  feel  unwell and  worsen your  condition –  you  may  pay  for  it  he  following  day.  Saying “no”  and  setting  limits takes  courage  but  being  dishonest  about  what you can or cannot  do  does  your  co-workers, family, and friends no favors.

Create      a      New      Lifestyle      Measurement Gauge: This is  your  life.    Learn to  measure it    in    different    ways    and      create      modified or    new    goals.    Change  saying,   “I  cannot do that  anymore, ”to  saying, “This  is  what  I  can do  now”.   One way of  embracing   your  new yardstick  is  the  use  of  technology.  For instance, those    suffering from  chronic  pain    can  use    an app  like  the  free WebMD Pain  Coach.  It lets you track  pain  patterns  and  triggers  and  is  helpful for reporting history when going to the doctor.

Dream, Set Goals and Nurture Passion: You don’t have to give upon all of your dreams and goals. Just figure out a different way to  accomplish  them—it  may  require  some  help    from others  and  creative  thought.  For  instance, if you have a goal at work, it may  entail sharing your condition with your supervisor. Enlisting others can put them on your team to  devise ways  to reach your goals with    needed  modifications. Remember the old saying:  “There is more than one way to skin a   cat”? Remember that in living with a chronic condition, there is more than one way to accomplish your dreams and goals—it just may take some help from others. And, when you truly cannot do  something anymore that you once loved, then   new dreams  and  passions  can  replace   old  ones.

This is also a natural progression of moving through life adjusting to the challenges you encounter and  making  lifestyle  changes  along  the way.  Regardless of your goals, passion will get you there faster and make it fun!

Living well with a chronic condition is all about overcoming obstacles and  accepting  who  you are  right  here  and  now.    You   can only do  this  with  a  plan  to  manage  your  condition  rather than  letting  it  manage  you.  Then, despite  having  a  chronic    condition,    you    can    grow    and change  in  positive  ways    and  live    a  balanced, meaningful and passionate life.

The Importance of Setting Goals

Imagine embarking on a spring break trip to Florida without planning ahead.  The end result  will  most likely  be  a  frustrating,  if  not  disappointing,  experience. Planning and goal setting are essential to successful outcomes, not just for big ticket events, but in daily and weekly tasks  we  need  to  accomplish  to  keep moving  forward.  Without goals,  we  lack  intention, focus and direction.

Goals tell you:

  • where you are wrong
  • how you are going to get there
  • how you will know when you’ve arrived

Goals give substance to our hopes and dreams—goals make dreams possible. Without goals, we can  feel as  if  time  is  passing us  by  in  the pursuit of activities which have little purpose and certainly don’t con- tribute to helping us achieve our dreams. When we choose goals that are congruent wit our  values,  we  see  the  dots  start  to  connect  be- tween  our  dreams  and  our  reality  and  we  experience  the  satisfaction that our time is well spent.

Goals that push us out of our comfort zone are usually well chosen ones and provide the best opportunities for personal growth. The path may not always be a comfortable one,  but  think  about  what you  want,  put the negative self-talk aside—and keep moving towards that goal.

Setting Goals that Work

  1. Set Goals that Motivate You. Identify goal(s) that are  consistent with the  priorities  in your    Write down why your goal is valuable and important to  you.  If a goal is important to  you,  then  you  are  in- vested in the process of doing the work to achieve it.
  2. Set SMART goals:
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Set specific goals.  Goals must be clear and detailed. This is your road map to show you the way.

Set measurable goals.  If you cannot measure  your goal,  how  will  you  know  you  achieved  it?  You will never know if you have met the goal of “lose weight.” However, “lose 5 pounds this month” is a measurable goal.

Set attainable goals.  If your goals are not realistic, you will set yourself up for frustration and   possible failure.  If you set goals that are not challenging, you risk limiting and underestimating your capabilities of achieving your dreams. Plan your steps to reach them and create a time frame that allows you to success- fully carry out each step.

  1. Set relevant goals.  Identify goals that are  most  important to  you.  Be detailed with your goals  in  the  specific areas of  your life such  as  job, family, finances, etc.
  2. Set timely goals.  All goals should be specific in terms of time frames. Your sense of urgency will kick in with deadlines  and  will help  you avoid procrastination.
  3. Write Your Goals on Paper.  This makes your goals become real and “present”, not just a daydream. Post these goals where you will see them daily.
  4. Make an Action Plan. Write out the individual steps and cross them off as you complete them.
  5. Review Your Progress and Keep Going! Goal setting is an ongoing process. Build in reminders to review your progress and keep yourself on track.

There is an abundance of supportive tools to assist you in goal setting. Websites, books, worksheets, and personal coaches are just some of the many avenues you can access to help you get started down the path of achieving personal goals. Your Employee Assistance Program, Personal Assistance Services (PAS) also offers coaching to help you identify your values, goals the steps necessary to achieve your goals, and help you stay on track as you work toward accomplishing them.


Goals give substance to our hopes and dreams—goals make dreams possible

Stay on Track with Your Financial Goals

Did you make a resolution this year to improve your financial situation but now you are finding it difficult to stay on track? Consider these tips to stay on track:

Talk about your shared budget, goals and expenses if you share your finances with someone else. Focus on working together to achieve your mutual dreams.

Stay motivated. Getting off-track doesn’t mean you have to abandon your plan or budget. Revise your spending patterns and pick up where you left off with a more realistic outlook.

Be flexible. Accept that there will be set- backs. Life isn’t always predictable. Use direct or automatic deposit to set aside money to reach savings goals.

Leave a little room in your budget for occasional treats. Too tight of a budget will ensure failure.

Get help from a financial consultant. PAS offers financial consultation for general information. A certified financial planner can provide advice specific to your situation.

Review your budget periodically. Revise your plan as needed. Motivation, self-discipline and commitment will have big payoffs!


Are you or a loved one dealing with a chronic illness?

PAS can help you live life to the fullest. Our Nurse Coaches offer education and support for you to:

  • Adapt positively to the life changes that are presented with a new chronic illness diagnosis
  • Learn ways to effectively communicate with multiple health care providers
  • Know what questions to ask when going to the doctor
  • Find answers to questions regarding diagnoses, testing, medications and procedures
  • Learn ways to live well with illness

PASWord Express © 2013 is published by Personal Assistance Services, 9735 Landmark Parkway, Suite 17, St. Louis, MO, 63127 -9968 (800) 356-0845. Material may not be reproduced without written permission.

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