Why is Goal Setting important for patients with chronic pain?
Whether your pain is caused by chemotherapy, surgery, Lymphedema, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, or an injury- pain is a pain! New Year’s Resolutions for patient’s with chronic pain can seem overwhelming. If you experience pain, goal setting is a crucial part in restoring a sense of order, normalcy, and control into your life. Making goals and reaching milestones gives you tangible proof that you are still in control despite the obstacles you may be hurdling. Below are some hints on how to set a goal and reach it while dealing with chronic pain.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
We know this is easier said than done. But try to remember that no two people are affected by pain the exact same way. Conditions and illnesses that cause pain vary and pain tolerance and personality are different in each person. What may come easily to others may be difficult for you and vice versa. Before setting a goal, take into account what is reasonable for you.
Set goals that you want to achieve.
Don’t set yourself up for failure! No one, whether they have to deal with chronic pain or not, wants to put time into a goal that they aren’t passionate about. Set goals that you feel are achievable. Achievable goals are functional, specific, and realistic. Ask your therapist to help you if you are having difficulty thinking of an achievable goal. Look at some basic resolutions and see if you can personalize them to your needs and desires for the New Year.
Break down your goal into smaller achievements.
Ask yourself the following questions about your new goal:
What do you want to be doing? How is your chronic pain keeping you from doing these things? What is a reasonable goal that you can work towards to get to where you want to be? If met, what function will this goal have or bring to your life?
Look at the big picture first. Maybe you want to be able to return to work, reduce stress, walk for 30 minutes at a time, or feel more in control of your body. Now break down your goals into a smaller (but still very important) achievements. Let’s say, for example, your big goal is to get back to playing the piano. To do this you need to set smaller achievements- do your home program from Physical Therapy, set aside time on your schedule to practice, dust off the piano, get new sheet music, etc. These little achievements are the foundation of your goal.
Be kind to yourself.
Achieving a goal can be difficult in of itself. Add chronic pain into the mix and it can feel impossible. Remember to be kind to yourself. You are the only one experiencing your exact journey with pain. While you can try to push yourself to reach your goals, don’t feel upset if you have some slip ups. It’s all part of the process! Be proud of yourself for trying even if you have some failures.
“The only goals you don’t achieve in life are the goals you don’t set.”
― Matthew Fox
For patient’s with chronic pain, setting New Year’s Resolutions can help to increase self confidence, regain a sense of control, and add a bit of normalcy back into their life. Try setting a New Year’s Resolution this year. You may surprise yourself with how much you learn along the way!