Healing is a journey that requires patience and perseverance. Without setting clear and meaningful goals along the way, it's easy to become overwhelmed, disheartened, and lose motivation. While SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) provide a useful framework, they may overlook a crucial aspect—gaining clarity about what you want and why it's important to you. In this article, we'll explore practical tips for setting goals that can aid in your healing process, with a focus on autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto's.
1. Gain Clarity on What You Want
Most of us with an autoimmune disorder, such as Hashimoto's, would state that our ultimate goal is to get health. But this statement is vague and lacks specificity. Take the time to delve deeper into what "healthy" means to you. What does it look like? What activities are you engaged in? Reflect on the importance of these activities and keep asking yourself why they matter. Explore how achieving these goals will make you feel and whether it would bring you joy. If the goal doesn't resonate deeply, keep digging until you find the core reasons.
2. Break the Journey into Smaller Steps
Once you have clarity on your overarching goal, it's essential to break it down into smaller, achievable steps. While the specifics will vary for each person, certain general guidelines apply. For example, creating a healthy environment for your body to heal is a crucial step. This can be further divided into actions such as increasing the consumption of whole foods and eliminating processed foods. Break down each step even further, creating meal plans, organizing your pantry, and dedicating time each week for planning and preparation. Seek additional information or guidance if needed.
3. Seek Accountability and Support
Embarking on significant changes can be challenging, and going through them alone can make it even harder. Reach out to your support network—whether it's family, friends, or online communities—who can offer encouragement and understanding. Having someone to share your journey with can provide valuable accountability and motivation.
4. Be Flexible and Adapt to Changing Circumstances
Remember that goals are not set in stone. Life happens, and circumstances may change along the way. Regularly evaluate the path you're on and be open to making adjustments if necessary. Adaptability is key to progress and growth. Changing your goals or approach does not equate to failure; it simply signifies your willingness to adapt and continue moving forward.
5. Celebrate Achievements and Find Joy in the Process
Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they may seem. Treat yourself to rewards that bring you joy, whether it's a massage, indulging in a favorite activity, or any form of self-care. These celebrations not only increase your motivation but also infuse more joy into your healing journey. Remember that healing is a holistic process, and appreciate the progress you make each day, even when faced with setbacks.
Additional Tip: Visualization Exercise
In addition to the aforementioned tips, incorporating a visualization exercise into your routine can be beneficial. Here's a suggested approach, given that you have already gotten clarity on your ultimate goal:
- Set aside a specific time each day, ideally for 5 minutes. Use a timer.
- Make it a ritual, like brushing your teeth or praying before bed, to establish consistency.
- Sit quietly in a relaxed position. Take a couple of slow, deep (not big!) breaths.
- Imagine that you've achieved your goal - you have energy and vitality, your symptoms are gone. What are you doing? Who are you with?
- Add detail.
- Allow yourself to feel the emotions associated with achieving that goal.
- Remember to put yourself in the picture.
I have found that using this visualization early in the morning sets the context for the day. I remember what I'm working towards and why. It helps me make the right decisions throughout the day.