Setting goals in MS
The New Year isn’t the only time to assess how things are going or to challenge yourself to do something new. It’s always important to think about what you are striving for and anything that could make your life better.
Setting yourself goals can help you do this, and even the smallest of challenges can have a big impact on your life and over time transform into positive habits. To help you get started we’ve asked people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) about how setting goals has helped them, and any advice they would share – so you can feel inspired!
Why set goals?
Making small changes can be the first step on the path to achieving big things. When living with multiple sclerosis (MS), adapting your life around your condition can become a normal part of your routine – sometimes without you even realising – but it shouldn’t. You shouldn’t have to compromise your lifestyle or the things you enjoy doing because of your condition.
So have a think about what you want from life beyond MS and the difference it would make to you. If there is something you want to do, setting yourself a goal can help you achieve it with the support of your healthcare team and your friends and family.
“I think deep down I wanted to gain something from MS, especially as it had taken so much from me. When I was first diagnosed, I was struggling to complete my degree. Now I’m about to embark upon my PhD in the Autumn, all thanks to that initial step into the unknown.”
Barbara, living with MS
Everyone’s goals are individual to them and whether they are big or small, embracing change can make a big difference. It’s those first steps towards a goal that could change your life.
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.”– Naeem Callaway.
To give you some ideas, below are a few goals that other people living with multiple sclerosis have completed. Click on the dots to move through the examples.
“This summer I’ve gone for a swim nearly every week” - Community member, living with MS
“Got out of bed and walked the dog” - Community member, living with MS
“I started lifting weights after my diagnosis and I’m going for my first powerlifting meet” - Community member, living with MS
“I walked for 20 minutes without sitting down to rest” - Community member, living with MS
“I cycled 45 miles with old and new friends and I did some MS awareness raising along the way too!” - Community manager, living with MS
“I finished my Masters degree in creative writing” - Community member, living with MS
What, or who, inspires you?
Is it the people closest to you, your role models or the feeling you get when you achieve something you never believed was possible? Whatever, or whoever it is, finding something that motivates and inspires you can help when working towards your goals.
“My biggest inspiration of all is my daughter. But there are also some super heroes who inspire me such as the body surfer, Miguel Rocha and Naiara Schubert who is a Brazilian body builder – she lives with MS and helped me realise that it was important for me to do sports. And the challenge itself inspires me – it helps me to realise that I can do things. That I can overcome my own obstacles.” – Telma, living with MS
Tips and tricks
If you’re feeling inspired to improve your way of life, whether you have a specific goal in mind or not, it can be difficult to know where to start. So here’s some advice to help you both plan and achieve your goals when living with MS from people who have done exactly that:
Aim high but plan a path
If you want to aim for something big or long-term, break your goal down into smaller ones so you can work towards it step by step
Or set smaller goals
In fact, you don’t even have to aim for one big aspirational goal. You might want to set yourself smaller ones which you can achieve in a shorter period of time
Set goals that are right for you
Your goal doesn’t need to be based on the latest hype, it should be unique and achievable for you. So think about what you can do and adapt your goal to suit you
Survive the knock-backs
Nothing worth anything ever comes easy. There may be times when things get tough and you wondered why you started. At these times talk to friends and family and surround yourself with support. And remember it’s always fine to take some time out!
Get the right advice from the right people
Telling your neurologist or MS nurse what you want to do can help you achieve it in a way that works for you.
“When I told my doctor that I wanted to study a Masters in Creative Writing, he was slightly surprised but wholly supportive, as he explained it would keep my brain active!” – Barbara, living with MS
“When I shared my goal to start cross boxing, my doctor was unsure at first. But after several consultations and conversations, we have reached an agreement.” – Telma, living with MS.
Roll up your sleeves and get started
Sometimes you’ll experience set backs on the path to achieving your goal, but never give up. If it’s something that’s important to you, then it’s worth fighting for. Get inspired by watching our challenge leaders’ achievements. [Link to: MS Heroes showreel]
There may be times when daily life gets in the way or distracts you from your goal – so we’ve created a few resources to help you plan your goal and to help you stay on track.
You can also create your own Talk to Your Doctor guide to help communicate your priorities to your doctor at your next appointment.
A goal reminder for you to print off, complete and put up somewhere so you’ll see it every day. Keeping a record of your goal by writing it down can help you to remember it.
Step out of your comfort zone
Learn about the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone and how to take those first steps.
Talk to Your Doctor Guide
Create a personalised guide to help you evaluate and discuss your MS at appointments with your neurologist.
Truth or Dare
Challenge your perceptions of life with MS or step outside your comfort zone with our game of Truth or Dare.