Chronic Pain Management Goals For The New Year

Those of us with Chronic Pain have to structure our life and our goals differently than we did before Chronic Pain and Illness.  Some of us may think “How can I make a New Year’s resolution when I can’t even determine if I will be able to get out of bed today?”  As a person living with Chronic Pain, I think it is more effective to write goals, rather than “resolutions”.

I like to use the “SPOT on” rule when creating goals.

I also like to choose goals that will enhance my overall health and wellness.

Pain Management – This area is dedicated to goals related to pain management activities like improving our regimens for sleep, diet, exercise, relaxation and mental health.

Life Engagement – This area is for goals that are related to our level of engagement in life’s activities such as social interaction, spiritual practices, hobbies, employment and financial wellness.

Short term vs. Long term – It is good to have goals in both categories. Usually the long term goal is broken down into smaller pieces so that we engage little by little towards our long term goal.  This reduces frustration and can help us to feel a sense of achievement when we’re making even just a hint of progress. You can also set daily goals, like making sure to remember taking medications and/or supplements!

Be “S.P.O.T.” on with your goals!  Here are some characteristics that can be applied to both short and long term goals:

S = Simple Have you ever heard the phrase “Keep It Simple, Stupid”?  I personally like the other options of “Keep It Short and Sweet” or better yet, “Keep It Simple, Sweetie!”  Let’s not over-think it. Simple, short, and sweet is the way to go.
P = Positive and Personalized Have you ever had a goal that you set because you were beating yourself up about a failure in you life?  Or you were comparing yourself to others?  Keep you goals positive and focused on what is best for YOU and what you can achieve.
O = Organized In January, journal your list of short and long term goals.  Make a copy and hang it up somewhere so you can review it daily or at least once a week.  It is also great to review these goals and journal about them 4x a year (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall).  Do they need to be modified?  Have some of them been completed?  Do you need to completely get rid of one?  WARNING for the Type As out there (that includes perfectionists, over-achievers and the like…you know who you are) – Do NOT create a spreadsheet! Sorry, no pie charts or graphs either.  Remember the S in SPOT? Keep it simple! 🙂
T = Time Each goal should have a time limit attached.  Try to keep the short term goal completion date 1-6 months at the most and long term goals 1-2 years at the most.  This will help to keep you from getting overwhelmed.  It will also help you to be able to “check” some things off your list when you achieve your goals and increase your sense of self esteem.

Here are a couple of examples from my own list. The short term and immediate/daily goals support my long term goal:

Long term goal: By 2021 I will decrease the overall inflammation in my body to help with pain management. This one is hard to measure but I know my body well enough to know when the inflammation response has increased, because my fibromyalgia symptoms and joint pain increase.

Short term goal: Learn how to cook (and enjoy to eat) 2 new recipes by June. These recipes will include vegetables and spices that help to decrease inflammation in the body.

Immediate/daily goals: Do my physical therapy exercises 1x a day. Go for a 10 minute walk 1x a day. Take all of my supplements as scheduled.

What are your long term goals for 2020? What are some of the short term goals you will use to get there? How do you keep your momentum?

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