Goal-setting for a Great Life
I see you. You’re raising a child (or two) with special healthcare needs. You have moved mountains to help your child – and you will move more in the future. You’re extremely busy balancing everything from childcare, school and parenting, to medications, therapy sessions, doctor appointments, insurance, waivers, and so much more. Maybe you’re doing this alone, maybe you’ve got a partner, maybe you have five children in 6 different after school activities.
Whatever life looks like for you right now, I’ll take a guess that self-care and completing your goals always falls to the bottom of your list. Many times, it doesn’t even make it on the list.
I’ve met many wonderful parents just like you during my years as a physical therapist at ChildServe, as well as through my work as a life coach. Whether they truly don’t have a moment to spare on themselves, or they feel guilty doing so, parents raising children with special needs tell me frequently how challenging it is to spend time on their own needs.
At ChildServe our mission is to partner with families to help children with special healthcare needs live a great life. I’m writing to remind you that in order for us to help your child live a great life, we need you to feel your best too. You deserve a great life, too.
How can you bridge the gap from spending zero time on yourself, to creating a life you love? Below, I offer some specific steps that will help you do just that. These steps also work to help you achieve nearly any goal you set your mind to.
How to Set Goals for a Great Life
- Step one: Visualize Your Happiest Self
- Picture yourself in a year. How do you want to feel? If you want to be healthier, more joyful, more content, more active? How do you want to be spending your time? Spend a few minutes dreaming about how you want to feel, and why it matters to you. Imagine that you’re looking back over the year – what are you most proud of?
- This step is the most important. If you don’t pin down why a goal is important to you, or if it even is important to you, it won’t stick. You need to learn what makes the goal important to your life and values. Goals with a value attached might sound like this: I want to be in good health so I can live longer…I want to be in good health so I have more energy to enjoy time with my family…I want to spend time in self-care so I can spend energy on others with joy.
- Step two: Write It Down.
- Research says that when you write a goal down, you increase your chances of achieving it by 42% percent. Writing down your goal is a promise that you make to yourself. Put this promise somewhere you see often – whether it’s a cute screen saver or a sign on your fridge. Remind yourself where you are going!
- Step three: Break It Down.
- A giant yearly goal is just one more thing to loom over your head. You want to break your big goal into a small daily goal you can accomplish every day.
- Let’s say your brainstorm goes something like this: “I want to start playing the piano again…It relaxes me, I feel creative, and I feel more like myself when I make time for this often.”
- What’s the smallest step you can take today to play the piano more often? Maybe it’s cleaning off the piano bench. Maybe it’s asking family or friends to help keep your child engaged for 15 minutes. Maybe you can only play for 5 minutes a day for the first week, but if it matters to you, it’s worth taking baby steps to make more time for it. Each small step will add up throughout the year.
- Step four: Celebrate Small Successes
- Come up with a list of small ways to celebrate your progress. That might be a cup of iced coffee each time you complete 5 days of practice. I know many adults who love using a sticker chart or a fillable graph to mark their efforts each day. Anything you love can become a way to honor the time and effort you’re spending to give yourself and your family a great life.
- Step five: Choose a Support Group
- Encouragement and support will help you reach your goals. Ask a few close friends or family members if they are willing to cheer you on. When you know your family, friends, and community are celebrating, it makes it that much easier to reach your goals. If no one in “real life” feels like a good fit to encourage you, find a support group online…the options are endless!
- Step 6: Give Yourself Grace
- When life happens, give yourself permission to change the plan or put it on hold. Big goals will take time, hard work, stumbles, victories, and everything in between. When you hit a rough spot or skip a day – give yourself grace and compassion. Talk to yourself, like you would a close friend who needed encouragement.
I’ve seen many people change their lives when they break their biggest dreams and goals down into small steps. I know you can do it, too!
All the best,
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of 5,200 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.