Well, here we are on the first day of December! If you have COPD, you probably focus on getting through each day, one day at a time. But… when we turn that calendar to January, we are looking at a whole new year. And you may be asking yourself one, or all, of these questions: “What does this coming year hold for me? What part do I play in making it as good as it can possibly be? If I am feeling overwhelmed by COPD, and it is controlling my life, how can I do anything about it?” Well, there’s actually a lot that you can do - and you can start by setting a goal.
But, before we dig into that, it’s important to know that setting goals is not the same thing as making a New Year’s resolution. Here are some interesting facts: Of those individuals who make a New Year’s resolution, after one month, only 64% are successful in keeping it. And after 6 months, just 46% are still successful in keeping it.[i] These statistics are not very promising! So, what makes setting goals different? And why is it important for a person with COPD to set goals?
It’s not just good for us to set goals, it’s important to set goals. Setting goals can give you hope that no matter where you are on your journey with COPD, you can do something to improve your quality of life. Even a minor improvement can make a big difference in your everyday life. Setting goals can also help you think positively that it’s possible for change to come about, even if you are very limited by COPD.
Rather than say, “I am going to exercise,” it often works better if you have something specific to focus on. For example, you might set a goal to walk every day for a period of two weeks (we’ll talk more about the specifics of setting goals for greater success in our next check in) according to your current exercise ability. At the end of that time period, check if you have increased your walking time or distance. For information on exercise, go to: COPD and Exercise | COPD Foundation.
Hopefully you’re alert to early warning signs of exacerbations (flare-ups). But, if you’re not, you might set a goal to follow the My COPD Action Plan every day for two weeks, noting what color zone you’re in, and becoming familiar with the “taking action” sections. At the end of those two weeks, look back and see if you made progress in avoiding an exacerbation. For information on exacerbations, including the My COPD Action Plan, go to: What is an Exacerbation or Flare Up | COPD Foundation.
There’s something about writing it down, putting pen to paper, or words on a screen, that gives more weight and permanence to what we say. Also, if we tell other people, even if it’s only one other person, what we intend to do – the goal we will work toward, we become accountable for doing that.
In short, making goals helps us feel hopeful, focus on specifics, and hold ourselves accountable.
Is goal setting important to you? If so, in which way is it important? I look forward to hearing from you!
[i] New Year's Resolution Statistics (2021 Updated) - Discover Happy Habits accessed 11-29-2021.