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Adrienne Dellwo

Setting Goals for the New Year With Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By December 28, 2012

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Blog Classic: Dec. 28, 2011

Are you contemplating New Year's resolutions, or maybe just hoping to make 2013 better than 2012?

Setting goals is easy - it's attaining them that's hard. When you have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, it can seem impossible.

The specific challenges we face with these illnesses include low energy, fatigue and forgetfulness (brain fog). Some of us have symptoms all the time, which makes it hard to do anything, ever. Others of us have roller coaster symptoms, with brief periods of productivity followed by a crash and doing absolutely nothing. Throw a lifestyle change into the mix ... it's not going to be easy.

But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. A goal can give your life new focus, and achieving a goal is good for you! You know that feeling of accomplishment? It's come from a burst of norepinephrine in your brain, and since we usually have slugging activity of that neurotransmitter, it can actually help relieve some of your symptoms for a while.

Of course, when chronic illness already has you feel lousy, you don't need failure to add to the pile of negative emotions. That's why it's especially important for us to pick realistic goals.

Here's how to approach a resolution or other goal-setting in your life:

Chose a small, attainable goal with a short time frame.

  • Example Goal: I want to lose 80 pounds in the next year.
  • Problems: Too big a goal for most people, and it allows you to procrastinate because you have a whole year.
  • Better Goal: I want to lose 5 pounds every month this year.

Build in Some Leeway.

  • Reason: You may have times that are worse than what you're used to, when you're not able to work toward your goals. We have to expect setbacks.
  • Even Better Goal: I want to lose an average of 5 pounds every month this year. So if you don't lose anything in March, for example, you know you have to work a little harder for a few months to get your average back on track.

Write Down Your Goal

  • Reason: Experts on goal setting say it's proven that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Especially if you're forgetful, it helps to post them where you'll see them frequently.

Re-evaluate Now & Then.

  • Reason: It may be that you've set too ambitious a goal for yourself, or that an unexpected event changes your goals or your ability to reach them. For example, I was working hard at losing weight a couple of years ago, then realized I was gluten intolerant. The demands of radically changing my diet and counting calories was too much for me, so I changed my goal.

Identify Obstacles & Find Solutions.

  • Reason: What's kept you from reaching this goal in the past? What problems can you foresee this time? How can you solve those problems? Coming up with solutions now can help you get past obstacles a lot more easily.

Here are some resources that can help you reach specific goals:

Diet & Exercise

Smoking

Organization

Sex

Have you struggled to meet your goals? Have you found things that help? What works for you? Leave your comments below!

Learn more or join the conversation!

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Comments
December 30, 2011 at 8:08 pm
(1) Lucy says:

Setting goals is a great idea and I am trying. However, it seems like everytime I try to tackle a goal, I get a flare or I have an uptick in migraines and end up “failing” again. It makes it just that much harder to keep trying.

I’ve decided that one thing I need to do it to try to get out with other people more. The only person I talk to day in and out is my husband. I love him to death but only hearing one voice is getting pretty old.

I am also going to a gentle yoga class a couple of times a week. It helps my non-fibro joint problems and is helping me with my balance. I have fallen several times and broken ribs and banged up my knees thus requiring surgery. It is one of the more positive things in my life at the moment.

Small baby steps. Forcing myself to keep trying.

December 31, 2011 at 4:47 am
(2) Tess says:

Thank you so very much for this article! I do believe it gives one some incentive even though it might not work out quite how you visualize it to be! It also gives you the incentive to forge ahead even though life seems like a rollercoaster all the time! I love, love, love it! I have already started, I wrote out 4 different goals in my yearly agenda so I will see them everytime I open it which is a lot because sometimes I even forget what day it is, I know that’s sad but another idea is I watch “The Weather Network” so I can find out the day and date, thank heaven for those people! The one I have, has the color of the day so I don’t have to make a decision of what color to wear as I have a lot trouble with decisions as well as remembering stuff, that darn “fibro fog”. Last week, my husband drove me to the store but by the time I got there I forgot what I wanted so I went back home and my husband was quite frustrated with me. When I told him it’s the “fibro fog” from the fibromyalgia, he just laughed and said “I believe you but thousands of others wouldn’t”, in other words he didn’t believe it. What can you do with that, right? Anyways, love you lots, Adrienne, a lot of your articles are so awesome with lots of helpful hints! Keep up the great work!

January 1, 2012 at 9:31 pm
(3) Spookiesmom says:

Every year in the past I make a resolution not to make a resolution. LOL. This year is different. I’m going to start walking. I know I need to start slow and small. I want to do 5 min a day. I’m pretty out of shape. Then go to 7, increase slowly. It may take a month or three to work up to about 30 min a day. That’s ok, so long as I do it.

February 8, 2012 at 7:41 pm
(4) maggie blackford says:

I keep reading about people going through fibro recession. Give me a hint,how is it accomplished.
I’ve done everything I know to do. Now I find out I have degenerative disk disease spinal, and ostioarthritis. what now???

December 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm
(5) Linda says:

I find it is unfair to place a goal upon yourself that is out of your control.
I choose instead to find goals outside of CFS, things that I can achieve with will and desire. For example, if I say I’m going to walk for 1/2 hr 3 times a week, and then weeks go by because I’m too weak, then I berate myself as a failure. However, if I set myself a goal, say, of reading one book a week, I can make that happen by carving out extra time each day just for reading. Last year, I started a blog and just posted my 70th today! I promised myself to find one new delicious recipe a month for a healthy meal (vegie tourtiere, packed with good stuff). They are not always easy goals. This year I promised myself to break away from a person who was causing me too much needless stress, and I finally did it! I think I did more good for the CFS by doing that than by a year’s worth of failed diets and exercise.

December 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm
(6) Melissa says:

I would have liked to share this, but the 3 mentioned symptoms so minimize what we suffer from with CFS/FM that it truly offers no help for others in understanding what our challenges are. I’m very disappointed.

January 1, 2013 at 11:56 pm
(7) Jane says:

I love your comment Linda and am inspired!
Fibro does seem to consume thoughts and feelings so choosing something outside that realm and within our control is a wonderful idea!
Can I suggest a great book I loved? The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll.
I think my new years resolution will be to write letters and postcards to my friends and encourage them to write back to me, I love going to the mailbox on days there is something lovely waiting for me!
Adrianne, thanks for another great article.

January 1, 2013 at 11:56 pm
(8) Jane says:

I love your comment Linda and am inspired!
Fibro does seem to consume thoughts and feelings so choosing something outside that realm and within our control is a wonderful idea!
Can I suggest a great book I loved? The Good Mayor by Andrew Nicoll.
I think my new years resolution will be to write letters and postcards to my friends and encourage them to write back to me, I love going to the mailbox on days there is something lovely waiting for me!
Adrianne, thanks for another great article.

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