Unlisted: Looking to the Future

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Over the past week, I discussed the importance of self-reflection while coping with a chronic illness. If you don’t have a chronic illness and feel stuck, one of the quickest ways to make necessary changes is to self-reflect. We want to see where we were (and are) to figure out where we want to go. From there we can create a personalized plan of attack on achieving personal goals.

Let’s look back at the goals we set back in January, and if you are just joining us, think about some goals you’ve always had for yourself. We may be in April, but it’s essential to revisit your goals often to see if you are on track. Today, we’ll reflect on these goals and work towards figuring out how to succeed now that we’ve learned a little bit more about ourselves.

Honesty about our illness, our capabilities, and desires allow us to create manageable goals. By reflecting backward, we can see what did not work and account for goal-making in the future. The answers you’ve provided to the questions I asked this week should show how unique you are and why “one-size-fits-all” does not work when it comes to self-improvement. Many sites, mine included, set a standard of how to make your goals with little discussion of the individuals needs.

For the sake of clarity and example, I will provide my personal answers. These are the answers that fit for me and should not be taken as value judgments. If you answer the same question differently from me, that’s absolutely fine. Variety makes us interesting.

In the next two sections, I selected some questions I created on Monday and Wednesday and provided my answers from my own self-reflection.

Looking Backwards; Pre-Diagnosis

Questions from Monday’s post with my answers below. I answered a lot of these in my post, but I wanted to show that you don’t have to go overboard with your own responses.

  • Did you have a significant other/intimate relationship?
    • Yes, Ash and I met in 2008 and we married in 2011. I received my diagnosis in 2013.
  • What did your friendships look like?
    • They felt strong and important, but I know I had several toxic relationships. I allowed people to treat me a particular way and I treated others poorly. While I had more friendships than I had at any other point in my life, I know I did not handle them in a mature manner.
  • If you were not spiritual/religious, what was your life philosophy?
    • I was spiritual after being raised in a particular religion, but I leaned towards trying to do no harm. I was aimless in this regard, so I don’t know if I actually achieved this like I wanted.
  • What was your physical activity?
    • I was in a yoga teacher training course immediately before my diagnosis, but I was not able to complete it due to needing to travel for school. I did yoga at least five days a week, but I wasn’t very active beyond the hour I did each day. Before the training, my activity level was relatively low. I hated exercise.
  • What were your eating/healthy living habits?
    • During the yoga teacher training, I was vegan, but as soon as I left I went back to eating meat, dairy, and fried foods. I ate a lot of sweet stuff and indulged all my eating desires because I am an emotional eater. I get stress, I eat.

Looking to the Now

Questions from Wednesday’s post with my answers below. Again, I may have already answered these in the post to some extent, but I wanted to provide my shortened answers.

  • How is my illness impacting my life?
    • It permeates many of my decisions. Can I go to this event? How late can I stay out? How do I plan for my fatigue and will this stress me out? When I know I am going into a high-stress situation I figure out ways ahead of time to not let anything get to me. Every time I practice self-care, mindfulness, or self-compassion I am doing so with the intent to manage my MS.
  • How am I best managing my illness?
    • I think starting exercise, dropping sugar, and working on being more mindful of my stress is the best way to manage my illness. I am not looking forward to getting back on Tecfidera, but I know it will be the best way to make sure I have my MS completely under control.
  • Am I taking what health I have for granted?
    • Not entirely. I realized a few weeks ago that I was allowing my fatigue to be an excuse for not getting everything done that I wanted. I since realized that my fatigue isn’t as bad as I believe and have been fighting through using it as an excuse to let things go, not push myself harder. I think when I used fatigue as an excuse, I was taking certain things for granted.
  • What is my current perspective with my health and life?
    • I am actually in a pretty good place about my life and the direction of my health. I am going to be shifting my diet soon to be more healthy. I fell into the trap of being lazy with my eating because I exercise, but my body reacts poorly when I have fried food now, so I have to move towards giving that up.
  • Do I allow negative thoughts impact how I approach my chronic illness?
    • We all have bad days and I acknowledge that. I find that I allow myself to get amped up and anxious when I am thinking about a lot of stuff/not organizing my time effectively. I think it’s good to have bad days and to allow them to happen, provided I don’t dwell on them. I used to stuff them down and avoid the bad feelings because I thought they were bad, but it would come out in other unexpected ways.

Looking to the Future

With the answers provided, I look between the differences to see where I was and the point I currently am in. The hope is that it has provided some evolution of self and I am a better person now than I was prior to my diagnosis.

If you found that you have not made many or any changes with yourself since you’ve received your diagnosis, or if you feel you are worse off – do not be discouraged. This is natural and normal. The point is to reflect on your life as it is now so that way you can change your future.

What you should have gained from that exercise of reflecting on the two different responses is the trajectory you are currently heading in. Then you know how you can best reflect on the way to handle your future.

Some Questions for my Future

Back in the newsletter, you’ll see a more robust list of questions to ask yourself for this week’s assignment. Below are a sampling of those questions with my responses.

  • Where do I see myself in a year?
    • I will find myself even farther along in my wellness journey. I want to feel more in control of my emotions, my actions, and my decisions. I want to be in a better place
  • Where will my health be?
    • I will be at my ideal weight for disease management and exercise goals (probably 10 pounds lighter). I will make my running goals (5k in 25 minutes; 10k in less than 60 minutes; half marathon in 2:15:00) and making healthier eating decisions.
  • What trajectory will my disease management head in?
    • I will be entering a second year without a significant exacerbation with my MS and back on Tecfidera to help ensure no further exacerbations shortly. I will continue to not need MRIs and only seeing my neurologist once a year.
  • The goals I came up with this year, do they get me closer to becoming my idealized self?
    • Yes, though I think they will help. I am finding that I am coming up with smaller goals that I meet throughout the year that do more to getting me in the position of reaching these goals.
  • If I made these changes, how satisfied do I think I would be?
    • I will be more satisfied because I would be getting myself into a better position emotionally and health. With my satisfaction, I will see more success in other areas of my life because I am open to opportunity.

Please note that I am using more definitive verbiage here: I see myself achieving these goals. There will be more on the reason why I took that route when I review this month’s book.

None of these self-reflection exercises are easy, nor should they be, but they are necessary in making positive and actionable changes in our lives. Next week will be about moving into that direction of becoming our more ideal selves.


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One thought on “Unlisted: Looking to the Future

  1. A really interesting post to put into practice all the tools of self-reflection, visualisation and so on. “The hope is that it has provided some evolution of self and I am a better person now than I was prior to my diagnosis” – That would be my hope, too. Great suggestions & prompt questions, thanks for sharing as these are really useful!
    Caz xx

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