Just before Christmas I received a very nice comment on my Bucket List post from a lovely person named Melanie Bowen. Melanie is a part-time contributor to The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog and an absolutely wonderful writer. She asked me to email her directly and of course I obliged. Her response was one of the most surprising and flattering emails I’ve ever received.
I asked that you contact me after coming across and reading the great content on your blog— to log and catalog desires, wishes, and things you plan to accomplish is by far the most important aspect to actually undertaking goals! Most people do not put their thoughts on paper—consequently leaving them without tangible reminders and constant ambition. I’m sure you can imagine how important this idea could be for those going through health struggles regardless of what they may be. An individual going through treatment, in remission, and even the family members of those with chronic or terminal illnesses face everyday challenges of maintaining a quality of life—self-motivation and inspiration is the key!”
I was thrilled to hear that someone outside my circle of friends and family had found my blog to be something special. How interesting that Melanie was able to see that quality in my Bucket List writing – this is something I had never considered before, although now I realise how important it is to keep track of our dreams. I was happy to fulfill her request for a guest post on my blog, so please take a moment now to read and understand Melanie’s message.
Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance
Power of Personal Goals in Treatment of Chronic Illness
Though the experts in charge of establishing your treatment program may neglect it, everyone is aware on some level that improving quality of life is an important goal in the struggle against chronic disease. Improved quality of life is linked to relief of symptoms associated with both diseases and treatments. Studies have shown time and again that two of the most important changes for patients to make are establishing a regular exercise routine and eating a healthy diet. Addressing individual fitness is widely acknowledged to relieve many common symptoms of chronic disease, such as fatigue and emotional disorders, and improve the quality of life.
Though the recommendations have been out there for some time now, patients still struggle with implementation. Even when nutritionists and physical therapists are included in treatment programs, it is difficult to change established habits no matter how detrimental. One powerful method is to establish personal goals and share those goals with others in a lasting way. A verbal commitment can be effective, but writing tends to work for more people. A written set of goals kept in a visible location, like a blog that can be visited by friends and family, is a constant reminder of what you want and why you want it.
Establishing Goals for the Short and Long Term
Successes in the short term are necessary to maintain motivation for the long term. Since chronic diseases differ in prognosis and all patients are different, there is no one formula for choosing appropriate goals. It is only important that the first goals have a high possibility of success while still requiring work to get there. From mesothelioma to diabetes patients, this could mean establishing the goal of learning more on ways you can outside of treatment have a lasting effect on your path to wellness or healing. A specialist can help by designing a program to help you meet the goal or you yourself can motivate yourself! Read other people’s stories and share your own. Write down your thoughts, wants and desires and motivate yourself but maintaining that idea that earlier goals should progress to the more difficult ones.
Others, such as those battling breast cancer or heart disease, may be in the position to plan further out. If you’ve always wanted to climb Machu Picchu, definitely put it on the list! Its good to get your thoughts out on paper—the little things pave room for bigger things. Be sure to create short-term goals that will take you closer. Big dreams give us all something to live for, and you can use this power to live a fuller, longer life.
- Melanie Bowen