Realistic goals are an essential part of becoming resilient on a cancer journey. Unfortunately, too many people have unrealistic goals. This leads to frustration; frustration with others and frustration with themselves. Thankfully, with some time and practice, these habits can be changed.
Baby Steps toward Your Realistic Goals
Realistic goals start by realizing that life is made up of baby steps, more than grand leaps and bounds. If you’ve ever been a runner, you know that a person can sprint at a very high speed for a short distance, but they could never run a marathon at that same speed. They would quickly burn out. It’s all about pacing, to ensure they can go the distance.
Starting is Easy
In the beginning, we start with a lot of drive and energy. Much of it comes from the adrenalin. You get yourself mentally pumped up to reach a certain goal. But, if the goal is one that will be difficult to reach, that initial drive will eventually wear off. So having smaller, more realistic goals that you can reach can help you to utilize that initial energy. Then, once you’ve reached that goal, celebrate your victory and set a new one.
Constancy is Hard
This is especially true when you are facing a cancer battle. Some days, just getting out of bed can be a herculean task. Other days you feel energized and ready to face the world. And, it’s not just physical. Your emotional well-being plays a huge role in your ability to stay consistent. Setting realistic goals will help make this easier.
It is also important to be gentle with yourself. Talk to yourself like you would a friend, with compassion and understanding. Too many people mentally beat themselves up for not reaching some arbitrary level of achievement each day. So often they don’t even have realistic goals, so it’s unfair to pour out that self-criticism.
Strengths Focused Goals
Know what you can do, now, not back before you were a patient or caregiver. Those are 2 different worlds. Also, do the things you have the strength for. If you are physically weak, it might be a day to quietly read to your grandchildren. if you have extra energy, you may want to fix the leaky faucet in the kitchen.
We began a system of “One Thing a Day.” When we look at our calendar, we should only have one big thing to do each day. It might be a doctor’s appointment or going to breakfast with a friend or cleaning the bathroom. Once you’ve achieved that realistic goal, give yourself permission to take the rest of the day off with no guilt attached.
Realistic Goals don’t include Comparisons
The biggest hindrance to this is comparison. You see the things your friends are doing on social media and you wonder why you can only do this one thing each day before wearing out. One of my mottos is, “Comparison is the devil’s favorite weapon.” Don’t let him use it on you by comparing yourself to someone else. It will only lead to frustration.
How do you ensure that your goals are realistic goals?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?
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In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.
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I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker