Friday, January 22, 2016

Progress in 2015 & Goals for 2016

Long-time readers of my blog know that I am a data freak (ex-engineer!). Every year in January, I take a look back at the past year to see how I did with the goals that I set for myself, and I set new goals for the new year.

Actually, to be accurate, I have 6 Lifetime Goals that never change (listed in my 2015 Goals post), then more specific objectives for each, and each year, I set very specific, measurable targets for each objective. For instance, one of my lifetime goals is To Be Healthy (a real challenge with a chronic illness!). My objectives under that goal are:
  • Improve mine & my son’s health by trying new treatments
  • Improve stamina & become more active
  • Reduce stress & rest more
  • Make time for myself

And then, I set measurable targets (baby steps!) for each of those objectives.

You can look back at my 2015 Goals blog post to read more about my health-related targets for last year. In this post on goals from 2014, I explain the simple way I track how I am feeling, using a 1 - 5 scale each day for overall and another 1 - 5 rating for level of exertion. That way, I can look back each year to see what my year was like. This is helpful because I find that overall impressions are often misleading, usually colored by my most recent experiences.

Progress in 2015
Overall health-wise, 2015 was a little worse for me than the previous two years, which was depressing to see. My average overall rating was 2.5 (with 1 being great and 5 being badly crashed), versus an average of 2.3 the previous year. I was badly crashed 14% of the time in 2015 versus just 8% the previous year. And my exertion level dropped a bit (measuring how active I was able to be) dropped from a high of 3.7 in 2014 to 3.5 last year. Those changes don't sound like much, but it is only a 5-point scale.

On the surface, that's all a bit depressing, but the downturns are explained by just two months in the fall. I had my annual bout(s) of bronchitis that knocked me out, as usual, but this past fall was even worse than previous years. In October, I was badly crashed over 70% of the time - that was my worst month since the very early days of my illness.

On the plus side, I made progress on quite a few targets last year:
  • I made more time for myself, a constant struggle for me (though much of that tended to be TV time, and I tend to multi-task while watching!)
  • I did very well with my writing, not only meeting my goals for sending pitches to old and new markets but actually earning some (small) income for the first time in a couple of years! Yay!
  • I exceeded my weekly walking and yoga goals and improved on muscle building, so I did succeed in being more active for most of the year.
  • My husband and I had two trips alone together (though less vacation time with our growing, busy sons).
  • I spent more time outdoors and was able to get out for a short hike or kayak paddle more often.
  • I meditated more often, recommitting in the fall to daily meditation.
  • I did better at resting when I felt bad...though there is still lots of room for improvement!

2016 Goals 
So, some of my health-related goals for the new year include:
  • For time to myself, I revised my targets to at least 2-non-TV fun things a week and at least 2 quiet fun things for myself (without multitasking) each week. So, TV can count but only if I'm not also checking e-mail, Tweeting, and looking at Facebook at the same time. Hopefully, this will also encourage more reading time - I really need more downtime built into my days.
  • I added new targets for connecting with far-flung family & friends (just one letter, card, or phone call a month)
  • Walk 4 times a week (vs. 3) - I try to take short walks whenever I am able to.
  • Continue yoga stretches every day.
  • Muscle building 4 times a week (vs. 3) - these are usually just 10 minutes, lying on my back, but it really adds up.
  • Renewed targets to rest more & reduce stress by:
    • Meditate at least 10 minutes a day
    • No computer after 7 pm (forces me to chill out & completely relax in the evening)
    • Rest when symptoms flare (rating a 3 or more)
    • Take one "day off" each month - a real struggle for me!

I won't bore you with the rest of my targets, related to writing and family, but those are the major ones related to health and wellness.

It has felt like a rough start to 2016 so far. I haven't felt well (not terrible not not good either), and I feel overwhelmed and behind on just about everything. So, I hope that some of these goals related to reducing stress, resting more, and having more fun will help remind me to slow down and take care of myself.

If you are new to the blog and interested in how I improved enough to be able to do these bits of exercise and get more active, check out this summary post on Effective Treatments that helped both my son and I.

I realize most people aren't this detailed, but what are YOUR personal goals for 2016? What would you like to improve this year or how do you hope to improve your health?


Jenni said...

Here's my goals
- continue my paid part-time work (almost all from home) and very part time MA study (via distance learning)
- continue to support my autistic brother to learn to be more independent - last year I taught him to cook (via Skype), but I order his shopping online, so I plan to teach him how to do that next.
- send birthday cards to my relatives. I can't complain about not getting cards if I never remember to send any!
- attempt to leave the house at least once per week every single week (going into the garden for a few minutes counts, if I'm really sick)
- reach my weight loss goal (2lb more to go, I average 1/2lb loss a month at best) and maintain my muscle mass at its current level (I lost about 2" muscle off my legs within my first year of being sick).
- work towards being able to be out of bed for more than 1hour a day on most days.

(for context, I'm classed as having severe ME with orthostatic intolerance, as this all sounds way less impressive than your 'walk 4 times a week).

Sue Jackson said...

Wonderful, Jenni! You have a lot going on - so wonderful that you are trying to help your brother when you are so disabled yourself :) Those seem like reasonable, measurable goals - good for you! Hope that 2016 is a good year for you!


P.S. Sometimes my "walk" is a very slow-paced 10 minutes to the mailbox & around our tiny cul-de-sac! Like you, I find that just getting out of the house helps - emotionally as well as physically - even if it is just lying in a chair on our back deck :)

Angel2k said...

Hi Sue
I came across your blog before Xmas as I was searching for ''how to live with cfs/m.e". I was diagnosed myself a year ago but been suffering for the last three years. I have enjoyed reading your blog and have resonated with many of the things you have been brave enough to share. The fact others are struggling the way I am has really helped me start to accept the condition - so thank you. I hope your goals for 2016 come to fruition and I wish you a happy and hopefully healthy year ahead. X

Sue Jackson said...

Thank you so much for the kind words about my blog and the support! You are right - it helps so much to know you are not alone :)

Hope you have a good 2016, too!