Writing out your goals
When the new year approaches, I get excited. I start thinking about the paper planner I will buy, that includes sections for the planning for the new year, and the goals I will write in it. I like to put my goals on paper. It really is true, the act of writing out goals does something mentally. Something more concrete than just saying them out loud. Goals keep me grounded in life. I write out goals for my physical health, relationships, professional aspirations, my spiritual life and my personal well being (including fun in my life?). It may just be my opinion, but without goals, how can we really move our life, our one life, in a direction that gets us to the person we are meant to be. We must be thinking about ourselves and wanting the best for ourselves, to even think goals are necessary. My goals are about me, but they all allow me to be and become my best version of self for those around me and those that I will interact with.
If I were a caregiver right now, besides being a mom, I would also create goals for myself specific to my role. I would use some of the same five categories mentioned above as well as add a few to direct my role as a caregiver for the next year.
GOALS: Physical Health, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Fun, Finances and Future Planning
Let’s look as these one by one, in no particular order. Think about how we each feel whole or accomplished at the end of the day, each person’s “cup” and ingredients may look a bit different but should include some of the same things. What fills you up?
Let’s first look at physical health. Are you drinking enough water? The current goal in this area is half your body weight. Are you moving your body, I’m talking about exercising? When we move our body, it creates “feel good” hormones in our brain. If we aren’t physically healthy, how can we care well and long for someone else.
Let’s look next at your relationships, and because we are talking about caregiving, what’s your support team like? Who is on this journey with you? Have you updated them lately on how you are doing and the help you are needing? This should be a goal. You can’t go it alone. Have you looked for a local support group? Do you need to see a counselor to explore relationships related to your loved one and those involved in their care? This may take some thinking but asking yourself who do I need to add to my circle, update in my circle or adjust in my circle is important.
The third category to evaluate is your spiritual life. This means something different for everyone. What helps you make sense of your role as a caregiver? Where do you find peace in your day? Do you meditate, pray, study the bible or other sources of spirituality? Having an answer as to why you’re in the situation you are in and how you can make the most of it, is important. For me, I may tell myself that God wanted me in this very role or even though this is hard, there is something I am supposed to learn. Maybe I can help someone else along their journey, because I have been there.
The fourth area for goal setting, is fun. Did you know that fun is a need we all have? It’s important to enjoy life, to do things that make us laugh, that make you feel your best, that gives you a moment of peace. Caregiving is so hard, and you will need a way to reenergize. Is it lunch with some friends, a weekend trip to a new place, a pretend shopping spree online, a bubble bath with candles and soothing music, what is it for you? Put these things on your calendar and plan for them. If they are written down or typed in, you will be more likely do them. If you are a full-time caregiver and not sure where you will get the help so that you can take time for yourself, you may be surprised with the resources. You must ask for help. If you have never done that, make that one of your goals. Talk to your family, friends and local agencies. If your circle doesn’t know you need help, they can’t offer it.
The next area that may or may not need goal setting is finances. Many caregivers, no matter the relationship, are contributing some of their own funds to their loved one’s care. They may be funding for in home care, adult day care or they may be wondering how they will pay for these services in the future. As well, knowing what is available for future care is important too. Do you understand the difference between assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care and how they are each funded? If you don’t or have never visited these communities, make this a goal. Having a plan b and knowing the resources you have and how long they will last is crucial to the best quality of life and outcome for you and your loved one. The last piece of our goal setting for 2019 is future planning, which is included in the above. I know caregivers usually have strong opinions about their loved ones’ future care and what it will or will not look like. It’s hard to keep promises related to care and keeping someone at home especially when it involves diseases that require 24/7 assistance. I encourage you to know what’s out there for care if you were to need it. It’s much easier to know what’s out there and feel comfortable with options, if a crisis were to occur, when you have visited and seen what’s available.
Goal Setting Is Our Thing
I know formal goal setting isn’t for everyone, so call it planning, saving money to prevent a crisis or whatever you want, and it’s necessary. It’s necessary to keep you well and provide your loved one the best quality of life possible. If you aren’t well or you feel out of control in the driver’s seat of your caregiving journey, that road will be so much harder than a road traveled with some sort of map. Care Managers must have a brain made for things like this, goal setting, caregiver care and planning is “our thing”. If you are a caregiver caring for someone with aging needs, mental illness or development differences, who hasn’t thought about these things for 2019 and you need someone to coach you in this, LifeLinks is here. If you are at the start of your journey, in the middle or at some hard parts, and you are feeling unprepared or out of control, call LifeLinks’ today to connect with a Care Manager in Nashville or Raleigh. We really do like goals and would feel honored to help you in setting yours.