Setting Goals Instead of Resolutions Can Benefit Those With LEMS

How this columnist's family is creating specific, achievable goals for 2023

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by Lori Dunham |

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New Year’s always prompts such optimism for the future. It’s as if the world pauses from the chaos of the year to welcome a more promising time.

I’m certainly hopeful about what the days ahead will bring. I’ve lived through the previous year’s challenges and now wish for brighter days.

Those of us living with or caring for a loved one with a rare disease know all too well how a year can leave bruises. In the past year, members of our Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) community have faced falls, new health challenges, failed treatments, and a lack of access to much-needed medication. The hope for better days is often what gets us through the hard things we currently face.

With this renewed optimism often comes a resolution to better manage the aspects of our life that we can control. Eat healthier, exercise more, save more money, travel often — these are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make.

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Unfortunately, as Forbes notes, only 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions, while more than 75% give up on them by February. However grim the statistics, I still find myself scribbling down areas I’d like to improve in the upcoming year.

I’ve heard it said, though, that we should set goals rather than resolutions. Resolutions tend to be vague, while goals are more specific and achievable. So, this year, I set out to create some attainable goals for 2023.

My goals don’t look the same as they did four years ago, before our daughter Grace was diagnosed with LEMS at age 14. Prior to her diagnosis, I admit that not much thought went into my New Year’s goals. Now, I find myself setting very intentional ones to assist our daughter as she transitions into adulthood while living with LEMS.

The following techniques help me follow through on my New Year’s goals:

Write them down

The first thing I do is write down my goals for the year. If they’re on paper and posted somewhere I’ll see them daily, I’m more likely to follow through. Whether it’s in a private journal or on a whiteboard in the kitchen, writing down my goals is the first step to achieving them.

Be specific

Secondly, I get specific with my goal setting. For example, instead of resolving to “eat a healthier diet,” I write down things like “no fast food” or “replace sweet tea with unsweetened.” This gives me attainable ways to achieve my goal. If your goal is to exercise more, write out a plan for when you will exercise and what it will involve.

One of Grace’s goals this year is to learn to cook. Once she set that as a goal, we began collecting specific recipes she wanted to learn to move us to action.

Be realistic

I know that if I’m not realistic, change won’t happen. Our goals must be attainable. I’ve learned this lesson from watching my daughters set New Year’s goals. We help them set realistic goals to build confidence and give them a feeling of accomplishment.

This year, Grace also wants to focus on exercise and strength training to combat her LEMS symptoms. We shared her exercise goals with her physical therapist, who was able to incorporate them into Grace’s sessions and help her make a specific plan to achieve them.

During this goal-setting process, I realized I hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to see the differences in my daughters’ goals. Our youngest has already learned to drive and has a social life that keeps us running. Many of her goals would not be realistic for Grace, due to LEMS.

I also noticed that some of Grace’s goals involve doing normal teenage activities that our youngest doesn’t have to think twice about. Grace’s desire to be more social and continue to learn to drive was a reminder that many things are harder for Grace than they are for her younger sister and most other teenagers.

It’s important for us all to remember that New Year’s holds no special power to initiate change. Each day we wake up on this earth we are presented with an opportunity to make improvements in our life.

May we encourage one another as we set realistic goals to bring about positive change in the new year. Let’s all be part of the 8%!

Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia syndrome.


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