Thursday, February 23, 2017

My Progress in 2016 and Goals for 2017

Here it is the end of February already, so it's about time I finally post about my new year goals, don't you think? My college sons were home all January for winter break and most of February for one infection after another, so it's been a hectic start to the new year!

I wrote about my goal-setting process in a recent article for ProHealth: Setting Goals When You Are Chronically Ill (you can read the full article at the link). There, I explained how I have lifetime goals and then set more specific objectives and targets for each of those goals at the start of every year and track my progress. It's a process that anyone can use - not to set unachievable resolutions that will soon be forgotten but to set reasonable step-by-step targets to help you actually get what you want out of life...even in a life of limits, like ours.

You can also look back at my 2015 progress and 2016 goals (those related to health & wellness anyway).

Lifetime Goals
This year, after writing that article for ProHealth, I realized that my Lifetime Goals probably needed some minor adjustments since I hadn't really revised them (only added to them) since getting sick!

So, here are my New and Improved Lifetime Goals:
  1. To nurture and enjoy strong, fulfilling relationships with my husband, my sons, my family, and my friends.
  2. To be a writer, writing about topics I enjoy and am interested in and getting paid fairly for my work.
  3. To spend time outdoors and to travel, doing activities I enjoy and that rejuvenate me, and sharing those experiences with friends and family.
  4. To create and maintain a comfortable and happy home environment - both physically and financially - that contributes to happiness, comfort, and loving relationships.
  5. To be as healthy as I can be and to take care of myself so that I can do the things I want to do.
  6. To give back, help other people, and be part of a community.
SO THAT, I feel happy and content and can spend my time doing things I love.

I feel good about this revision, as it more closely aligns with my life as it is now, with the limitations of my health, my sons now young adults, and no longer being able to contribute a lot to our income (though I contribute in other ways, like handling the medical bills).

2016 Progress
I'm a very data-driven person, so I won't bore you with the details of my progress in 2016, but you can look back here to see what some of my health-related targets were and here is a quick summary of my progress in 2016:

The bottom line for 2016 was an exciting one  -
2016 was my best year ever since getting sick almost 15 years ago!

How do I know this? Like I said, I like data. I keep track of how I feel each day on a 1 to 5 scale (1 being great & 5 being badly crashed/bedridden), as well as my exertion levels (also 1 to 5, with 5 being most active). I just jot those numbers on a calendar at the end of each day, along with any unusual symptoms, new treatments, etc. So, I've been tracking these numbers, with monthly and yearly averages, since I first got sick in 2002. I also look at % of time spent crashed (a 4 or 5 on my scale). This also helps me to tell whether a new treatment is helping. My annual average for 2016 was 2.2, which was an 11% improvement over 2015, and a huge improvement over my early years of illness. I was crashed only 5% of the days in 2016, a stunning achievement, since I usually range between 10-25% days crashed in a typical year! It was also one of my most-active years ever, another indication that I felt better and could do more.

How did I improve my health in 2016? Well, that's complicated - mostly an on-going process and the result of not one miracle cure but a whole bunch of treatments over the years that have each helped a little bit, building on each other over time. The best summary of what has helped me (and my son) the most is in the blog post, Effective Treatments for ME/CFS. In 2016, what helped me improve further was getting even better control over chronic yeast overgrowth (by staying on prescription antifungals) and starting B12 injections (I quit being such a baby about shots!) and glutathione injections. I think the glutathione injections have been especially helpful and will write a blog post about that soon.

2017 Health-Related Targets
I won't bore you with all my detailed targets for writing, family, home & finances, etc., but here are my health-related Objectives and Targets for 2017:

1. Try New Treatments (this is an objective every year - I never stop searching for things that will help my son and I to improve our health & our ability to function).

2. Take Care of Myself:
  • Rest when symptoms flare (3 or higher)
  • Do 2 quiet things just for myself each week (no multi-tasking!)
  • Meditate at least 10 minutes every day
  • No computer after 7 pm
  • Do 2 fun things each week that are not TV
  • Take one "day off" each month
3. Improve Stamina:
  • Walk at least 4x each week (I have worked up to this over the course of years, after first treating Orthostatic Intolerance).
  • 10 minutes of gentle yoga stretches every day.
  • Muscle strengthening at least 4x per week (same as walking, plus I do most of it on my back to keep my heartrate down).
Much of the targets under Take Care of Myself may seem pretty basic, but I still struggle with taking care of myself, taking time out for fun, resting when I should, and relaxing. In fact, as I've improved, I've naturally wanted to do even more, so these kinds of simple self-care actions are even tougher now. My time and energy are still so limited that I want to be as productive as I can when I am up and feeling I need these reminders to take some time out for myself.

We are each at a very different place in our illness journeys, even when we have the same illness, so your goals, objectives, and targets will necessarily be different than mine, but I hope that sharing my goals and progress with you will inspire you to embark on a similar process for yourself. This helps me to actually achieve my goals, instead of looking back at the end of each year and realizing that nothing changed.

Have you set any goals or objectives for yourself for 2017? How was 2016 for you? Please share in the comments below!


Unknown said...

I love that you made your goals so specific and attainable!

Sue Jackson said...

Thanks, Brittany! That's the key to actually achieving goals instead of being disappointed every December 31!

Lisa Ehrman said...

You must be very organized! Good for you :) It's hard to really work on goals, but yours are so important!

Helen's Book Blog said...

I like the idea of not doing computer work after 7:00pm (she types at 8:36pm). I'm sorry to hear that you have to deal with all of this every day, but it sounds like you really have a handle on it all.

Sue Jackson said...

ha ha - yeah, it's just so easy to get sucked into social media in the evenings, but I really need that downtime. That's when my husband and I watch a couple of TV shows together and then read in bed for an hour before lights out - a very relaxing routine that gives me downtime, reading time, plus time with my husband!

Good luck with your happiness goals this year, Helen!