Why NOT to do a New Year’s Resolution if you have a chronic illness.

by Amy Shoemaker

If New Year’s Resolutions are your thing, and it works for you, awesome. I normally try it myself every year. I pick something I want to accomplish and try to do it every day. A gratitude journal, bedtime prayer, scrapbook, quit biting my nails, daily Kegel’s, limit Facebook, you name it. January goes fairly well. I’m on my way to success. Sometimes in February, I’m holding my own. As one of the most dedicated, persevering people you will ever meet, by March even I’m burnt out. 

So let’s look at this realistically. There is way too much pressure on December thirty-first. Make a decision at midnight and give up your old ways forever. In all honesty, you can start a resolution any day. In fact, if you choose to change something and your heart is really in it, you will. Not because you flipped the calendar, but because you truly want to change.

As a person with a chronic illness, major commitments may be too much to handle. Life priorities of mere survival take president over resolutions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to talk you out of it. Instead, look at it differently.

Consider on New Year’s Eve promising yourself you will take January to whole heartedly ponder what you really want. Where do you want to make changes? How can you get there? What can you go without? What can you add? Where do your priorities lie? What is most reasonable for you to manage? What’s the best sound plan? 

January take time to plan. Write it down. Scratch, erase, contemplate, rewrite. Put it somewhere visible. Sink it into your brain by looking at it. If you haven’t already, on February first make steps to move forward. Practice or implement what you decided. March first start initiating it full force. Take it from there. Ultimately, no matter what, life changes take work.

I’ve found beginning with a small amount of time and building by the week is a better way to go. Running five miles on the first day only leads to a pulled muscle. Cooking a healthy meal once a week is a great start. Twice a week a habit is forming. Three times and you have a pattern. A daily one minute meditation can build to a beneficial five. Slow and steady wins the race.

When I have a flare up, I can’t always do the things I want. It’s an unfortunate set-back. The last thing I need is to beat myself up. This is the very point where all your hard work can go kaput. Don’t let your illness keep you down. Talk yourself into what’s going to happen next. Make it happen. Dig deep for your strength. Go right back at it and put your foot in the stirrup. If you finally worked up to twenty minutes, there is no harm in going back to five just to keep your momentum going. Take each stumbling block to learn about yourself.

A good friend once asked me to write down everything I accomplished in the last year. When I read back my list, I wasn’t that impressed. I’m an over achiever so naturally I wanted it to be more. Then, she reminded me that I did all those things with a debilitating disease. Wow. I’d never thought about it that way before. Each thing I did took so much more energy than the average person. And yet I still did it. 

Remember, the purpose of a New Year’s Resolution is to accomplish something to improve your life. So ask yourself. What’s the first step to making my life the best it can be? Then, move your toes and go forward. Even if it is one toe. Keep wiggling until you’re dancing. And for goodness sakes, find a way to make it fun. Good luck. Comment, share your thoughts and plans. It’s more enjoyable doing things together.

Life’s what you make it, make it taste good. Cheers!



9 thoughts on “Why NOT to do a New Year’s Resolution if you have a chronic illness.

  1. Lovely piece. Two years ago, on New Years Eve, my companion and I filled out our medical powers of attorney and medical directives, and made multiple copies to distribute throughout the year. I am still coasting on that task!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually neither, right now, as we are just ending our polar vortex plunge, and are still hibernating. Coasting, and toasting will come when I can finally shoo the dogs out!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice blog, Amy. Awesome you reached this goal! I started my resolution Jan. 2. But then, I was SO ready. I couldn’t wait to be healthier…and I feel tons better. Like you said, we start these changes when we’re ready. Spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

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