Oh, Hey. I’m a Person. I Need Goals.

Chronic Illness can rob you of all of your goals. This is how I'm slowly rebuilding mine.

Goals After Chronic Illness

I know a lot of people post their goals at the beginning of the month, but I do things on my own time table. It’s part of accepting my limitations with chronic illness. For years, I thought because I couldn’t “get things done on time,” there was no point in trying to set goals for my life. I had to leave my dream job, drop out of grad school, move to a strange city, and gradually lose more and more ability to care for myself. I’ve always been goal-oriented, so losing the ability to reach even self-imposed goals has been heartbreaking.

Honestly, I never quite saw the point of posting monthly goals, other than accountability. I thought, hey, I could just write these down in private. No one would know that I can’t reach them...

Then I thought, oh, wait. I’m a person, too. Just like I need hobbies. I need goals.

Current Attitude:

Recently, though, I started thinking about my own goal-oriented-ness. I know that I can’t do everything that I want to do at once, so I made a list of HUGE, broad goals. Ones that could take years and years to accomplish. I wrote down the ways that I would measure if I accomplished them, so writing them down was helpful. I will probably start being one of those monthly goal people, but mine’s a running list! I promise that future posts will be shorter and more concise.

Now, I am keeping that really long running list of small goals for along the way. Much like the way that a runner who wants to run a marathon sets small goals along the way, I think of new things that will eventually get me to where I want to go. As I make tiny bits of progress, I add a new daily/weekly/monthly goal. I just have to accept that I won’t achieve everything all of the time, but there is something powerful about writing it down and at least thinking about taking control over my life, since I don’t always have control over my body. I have the kind of goals that take some energy, but some that can still be accomplished as long as I’m not totally screaming in pain.

I really enjoyed reading people’s goals this month for some reason. Maybe it is because I have a little bit more motivation than I had in the past? Because I’m writing my own goals down in my binder? I even got some good ideas for goals! It was fun to celebrate with my favorite bloggers when they accomplished their goals or even to offer a bit advice or encouragement. Because, honestly, I always skimmed through blogs on the first day of the month (too many goal posts). Maybe now that I have goals again, I won’t feel an unconscious resentment.

Some of my goals are meaningless unless you understand my physical conditions, but I thought that I would share a few things that I’m going to try to work towards during the next few months.

I’m not naive enough to think that I can accomplish anything in a single month. Most of these are long-term. Some are like “do this once a month,” or things like that might just get done once. Others are super obvious goals that other people do without thinking twice, but once I got sick, I stopped doing them.

Aside from creating a little accountability, I hope maybe my tiny goals will inspire other people who have felt like they can’t accomplish goals anymore.


A few timely posts from a blog that I love came to my attention after I started working on my own goals. Life in Slow Motion talks about reframing your setbacks and how to symptoms to prevent flares. Personally, I use a mix of apps and paper to track.

Starting at Home

  • Purposeful reading
    > Read a memoir each month
    > Read a literary theory book each month
    > Read a book towards a reading challenge each month
    > Read a book about writing (this may take longer than a month)
    > Read at least part of an anthology of anything
  • Organization
    > Keep my goal list running and add as possible
    > Organize emails for immediate response, respond as soon as possible, and answer when my health allows me to write the best response
    > Track my goals and schedule, as my health allows! (I found some printables on Pinterest that work well for me)
  • Blogging
    > Since blogging is one of my few current hobbies, I set a few goals for it.
    > Keep a running list of ideas.
    > Try to write when I feel well, so I will have a surplus of posts to publish when I don’t feel well.
  • Life
    > Plan one activity with Brian per weekend where we put away all technology at the house or leave the house, if possible.
    > Treat myself to a favorite TV show or two every few days.
    > Keep a “get ready/go to bed” list taped to the bathroom mirror.
    >>>That’s how bad things can get when you’re sick. You need a list to remind you how to take care of yourself.

I’m working on all of these things slowly, but surely.

How do you set your goals? How do you set goals, especially after a prolonged illness?


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Categories: Chronic Illness, Goals | Tags: , |
  • these are some good goals and I’m sure you will accomplish them. Some of my goals.. there’s a lot for this year. But I can only tackle so much in a month.

  • technology free days are awesome! 🙂

  • i think it’s great the way you have your goals set out. i have never had a prolonged illness, but i find it sometimes helps me to write my goals out and share them with the blog world.. but then again some of them i don’t share because i feel silly or whatever. and most of the time i don’t reach the goals i shared so perhaps there is no point for me.

  • I just want to let you know that your posts have helped me with a few of the clients I am working with. Just yesterday I suggested a client set a goal of beginning to read magazines (she’s become depressed and no longer enjoys it). She may not be able to read her novels yet but I think she can read a simple magazine. These are great goals and I think that even healthy individuals need a list to remind them how to care for themselves.

  • I have had plenty of periods of ill health during my life and I grew up without ever really setting long term goals. I prefer to say, ‘I’ll aim to read 2 books’ or ‘I’ll apply for that job now’. Illness taught me that life is unpredictable.

  • Zoe

    I really like the idea of before going to bed and after waking up lists – I might use that! Good luck Sarah xx

  • I struggled a lot with not setting goals when I was in my deepest period of pain, and it’s something that I regret. I’m a very goal-oriented person, and I think keeping goals in mind would have helped me in my darkest days. I am also going to send this post to my sister who is struggling with Lupus. They’re so helpful for both of us, and I’m so glad to have connected with you through blogging!!

    • After I got sick, I realized I wasn’t going to have the first career I wanted, so I decided on a different career. Then, things got so bad, I couldn’t go to school and work, but I obviously had to have good insurance, so I had to stay with my job. I didn’t have any goal other than to survive.After I stopped working, I was utterly without goals. I didn’t even think about the fact that I didn’t have any. I stopped eating well. I stopped taking care of myself. I deteriorated completely. I don’t think goals would have completely prevented me from being as sick as I am now, but mentally, I probably would be in a better place. It’s a slow process, but just having a “to-do” list that includes reminders to bathe, eat, let your mom drive you to the doctor, and make a meal plan is good because then I feel accomplished. I was doing only some of the before, but I was aimless.I hope this helps your sister! I wish I would have figured out that I didn’t have goals sooner. (They’re about to retest me for all the auto-immune stuff. I’m pretty much scared to death…).

  • Caroline

    These are fantastic! Goals are really important to me too.

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