by Jenni Prokopy, with a big assist from Shannon at Nip Pain in the Bud

It’s the time of year when many of us are thinking about 2015. What will our life look like? What goals do we wish to achieve? Where do we want to be?

Not everyone’s a fan of new year’s resolutions, but I am. I adore them, in fact—I think that, done right, they can help us achieve enormous change in our lives.

For those of us with chronic illness (especially conditions that are somewhat unpredictable), it can seem like a fool’s errand to write new year’s resolutions. After all, we could do all this planning and nothing could come from it!

From where I sit, the resolutions actually help you continue to achieve things in spite of roadblocks. So rather than blow off doing them at all, I suggest making them… and then being ready to GUILTLESSLY abandon them if they stop working.

Let’s look at a couple of my new year’s resolutions for 2014, shall we?

1. Lose 60 lbs. Well, that didn’t happen. But am I beating myself up over it? Heck no. I lost 10 lbs. which ain’t anything to sneeze at, especially when the average American adult gains about 10 lbs. a year. So I’ll just revise for next year: Lose 50 lbs. Even if I don’t make my ultimate goal, I’m making progress.

2. Work out 3-4 times a week. Well, that didn’t happen for much of the year, for a variety of reasons. But I had it in the back of my mind—and for the past two months, I’ve worked out, on average, 4-5 times a week. So I made it! Not as fast as I planned, but I’m here now. So that one stays with me “as is” for 2015.

3. Book two speaking gigs a month. Urm, I had months with no gigs. But I had months with four gigs. Overall, I didn’t have the equivalent of two a month. But did I abandon the goal? No way—in fact, I’m starting to book up for 2015.

4. Be a spiritual warrior. Totally, bad ass, I’m there. I’m meditating (mostly), I’m not judging others (mostly), and I’m choosing peace (mostly). This one’s hard to quantify, but I work on it every day, so I’m proud to say I nailed this one.

5. Publish first book in 2014. Nope! Not even close. I made some progress, but it won’t be out until the first quarter of 2015. Did I lose heart? Sometimes. Did I want to abandon the goal? Never—I just had to regroup and redefine my resolution.

Are you seeing a trend here?

I don’t often achieve the entire goal of my new year’s resolutions, but I often make some progress. And what I know about myself (and most people) is that without any goals, we make NO progress. So when I set new year’s resolutions, they’re much more big picture… nothing of the “I’m not eating red meat ever again starting at midnight on January 1” which, you know, you’re going to break after a couple glasses of champagne when mini sliders are on offer, amirite?!

What I suggest for you:

Use the SMART goal model to craft at least one new year’s resolution for 2015. Make each resolution:






Here’s an example: I want to lose weight. That’s such a blah resolution, without any pizzazz. It will be hard to stick to. Here’s one that’s SMART: My goal is to lose 15 lbs. by the end of 2015. It is specific (15 lbs.), measurable (you’ve got a scale, right?), achievable (assuming you have the weight to lose), realistic (that is a do-able number for most people under doctor supervision, eating healthy, etc.) and time-related (by the end of 2015). A resolution like this is much easier to stick to, because you can check in each month and ask, how am I doing? Am I closer to my goal? What should I change?

So stay SMART with your new year’s resolutions, babes. I would love to know what you’re pledging for the new year, so leave them below, OK?

champagneTo further aid you in your efforts…

My pal Shannon is an excellent internet researcher, and has pulled together some resources on new year’s resolutions for us. From one ChronicBabe to another, here they are:

Make Chronic Pain Management Your New Year’s Resolution by Karen Lee Richards

New Year: 7 wishes that I hope come true for those with health problems by Toni Bernhard

A New Type of New Year’s Resolution by Linda Sapadin, PH.D

Healthy New Year by Shannon

How to Make Achievable New Year Revolutions by Karen Brauer

A New Year’s Resolution for Generosity by Marie Hartwell-Walker, ED.D.

What if the only resolution you make this year is to finally accept yourself, chronic illness and all?  by Helena

The Art of Letting Go in New Year’s Resolutions by Lisa Lorden Myers

New Year’s Resolution: Celebrate the Victories by  Lana

Do One Thing Differently This Year: Make Your Chronic Marriage Extraordinary by Helena

5 New Year’s Resolutions for those with Chronic Illness by Kimberly Rae

A New Year and a Challenge: Appreciate your spouse by Helena