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You’ve Healed from a Chronic Illness: Now What?

Goal Setting

You’ve done the hard work of healing from a chronic illness and have regained your health. Congratulations, that is so huge! But now that you’ve healed, you don’t really know what’s next. You’ve spent so much time and energy with a single-minded focus on healing and you don’t know how to spend your time now. Your future is like a blank canvas, and you’re not sure how to fill it. You’ve got a goal in mind, but you don’t know how to go about achieving it.

Feel the Fear, And Do it Anyway!

You may have had some dreams you wanted to chase before you got ill, but everything was put on hold when your health became your priority. You hear a small voice in your soul telling you, “maybe I should try that again,” but not even a minute goes by before you hear another voice saying “no, I’m too old to change my career”, “I don’t have enough skills” or “no, that’s too frivolous.” How do you work with these beliefs and gracefully move into a new path?

First of all, realize how amazing you are for having healed. You put in the work, and you’re now seeing the benefits. You undoubtedly had to face many challenges and go through a lot of inner work and transformation in order to get to this place. So, you are already very resourceful. Embrace that and know that you have more strength that you realize.

Second, understand that anyone who starts something new in their life – whether it’s switching to a new career, taking on a new challenge like training for a race, or putting themselves out there in the dating world – is taking a risk and feeling some fear. It’s a totally normal response. You just have to realize that fear is not real. It’s just an emotion that comes up when you’re stretching yourself, and it goes away by just doing the thing that’s scaring you. The more you do the thing, the less scary it becomes. You’ve probably heard the saying : feel the fear and do it anyway. Even people who are very successful feel nervous sometimes. But they don’t let that stop them from pursuing their dreams.

But HOW do they do it?

Well, one technique is to become mindful. The next time you feel the anxiety coming on, just stop what you’re doing and become really present. Observe the sensations in your body. What does it feel like? Do you feel tightness or pressure? Just list the things that you’re feeling. And do your best not to judge anything that comes up. You want to become a curious observer of what is happening, and by doing so, the feeling will just rush over you and then go away. If you continue to resist it, it will just persist. Embrace it, and it will be over before you know it.

Another common thread I’ve noticed people in leadership positions commonly do is a regular morning ritual including some kind of mindfulness practice. Whether it’s a daily meditation practice that quiets the mind and allows you to tap into your intuition, or yoga and breathing, it’s really up to you what to include. Maybe you already used one of these to heal – it might not be a bad idea to keep it in your stress relief toolkit.

Finally, work with those limiting beliefs. Every time you notice yourself saying something that’s not in the direction of your dreams, note it down. You may notice that you have a lot of these beliefs, and they may not be that obvious until you start really paying attention. It’s okay – the more aware of them you are, the more power you have to change them. For each belief that you’ve written down, try and come up with an opposite belief that is positive. And start saying that to yourself instead every time you hear your original belief. You may not believe it initially, but that’s normal. The more you say it, the more you will believe.

Put a Plan into Action to Reach Your Goal

Next, you’ll want to put together a plan. Start by finding a quiet place where you can write. If you meditate, maybe do a meditation right before. Then check in with yourself, and start dreaming. Ask yourself a few questions and write your responses, without judging yourself for any of them. It’s helpful to do this in a stream of conscious way, where you write anything and everything that comes up.

  • If I could do anything, what would it be? This could be related to career or enjoyment, or both.
  • What am I really good at?
  • What do I want my life to look like five years from now? Describe a perfect day or where you live and what you’re doing.
  • What’s on my bucket list?

Once you’ve gone through these questions, step back and take a look at your answers. Circle anything that inspires you. Rewrite them on another piece of paper, with some space to write under each one. Then come up with an initial goal around these things. Write as many as feels good to you, and then circle one from each category. Get to work on that one, and then go to the next when you’ve finished that one.

Another thing that may come up for you is you want to do EVERYTHING. This is common for people who have healed from a chronic illness. They feel like they want to make up for “lost time” by doing everything they’ve ever wanted to do, right now. That is ok, but just realize that you have all the time in the world. Just identify a few things you want to do, and go from there. If you pick too many, you may get overwhelmed with too many choices. It’s best to slow down and pick things that really inspire you.

Help is Out There

If you get stuck, it can be helpful to talk to a coach. The beauty of working with a coach vs. a trusted friend is that you’ll get an unbiased listener who doesn’t judge you or steer you in the direction they think is right for you. Also, coaches are trained to listen for limiting beliefs and obstacles that might be coming up for you, as well as blind spots you may have. They can help point these things out if you’re not already seeing them. And they support you with the inner transformation that may need to take place before you feel ready to take on bigger things in your life. Finally, coaches provide accountability because you need to check in on your goal progress every few weeks. If you’re someone motivated by that kind of check in, it can really push you along further in your path.

Schedule a free consultation with me if you want some help.

There are lots of great resources out there for planning that may be helpful to you. There are online courses and even things like planner notebooks that can be helpful to visualize, and then actually implement, each goal. If you’re a visual person, they help you see what you’re working towards and having each goal broken down into smaller, manageable chunks is really useful. Maybe splurge on a really beautiful planner that inspires you to take action. Keep everything about your goals in one dedicated place that you look forward to using. If you like writing things down, I’d recommend the Passion Planner. And even if you don’t use a planner, another tip that many people use is actually scheduling time into your calendar on a weekly basis for building your dreams.

Goal-setting: Get Clear on Your WHY

I feel this is one of the most important steps in the goal-setting process, and something many people leave out. For each of your main goals, write down WHY you want to achieve this. What will it do for you and your life? How will you feel? Also, what will not achieving this goal do for you? Put this down on paper and take a look at it every time you feel your motivation waning.

Also, it’s ok to change your goal. As you grow, you may realize that something you wanted a few months back isn’t the right goal for you or something else is popping up and wanting more of your attention. It’s ok to reprioritize every so often. You can use the first of the year or maybe a half-year checkin to do this for all of the goals you’re working on.

Don’t Forget to Add Joy

Once you’ve identified the new things you want to create in your life, don’t forget to add some joy! Of course, you should have chosen goals that light you up and inspire you, but even those things may come with some hard work and dedication in order to get there. So, plan a fun activity, take some time for yourself, or check something off that bucket list! After all, you worked hard to get here, so you want to enjoy yourself during the process!

Download my How to Overcome Your Limiting Beliefs to Create an Amazing Life eBook for more helpful exercises.

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