If you were to ask my family, ex-boyfriends, and friends what my worst quality is, they would probably say that I can be extremely stubborn. Now, I’m also self-aware enough that I know that about myself and I can acknowledge when I’m being stubborn and that I should probably change what I’m doing. But my stubbornness can also help me because it means that I don’t give up on my goals. This is especially helpful when it comes to my health issues trying to get between me and my dreams. If you find yourself in a place where your health is threatening your goals, take my advice on how you can still achieve them.
Step 1: Choose Attainable Goals – The most important thing is keeping your limitations in mind. I don’t mean that you shouldn’t set goals that you might not be able to achieve; it’s just a matter of recognizing how your health affects things. For example, it’s not feasible for me to write and publish a book a year right now. I’m still going to write and publish as long as I can, but I recognize that trying to write that much isn’t feasible with where my health is right now.
Step 2: Create a Plan – As Antoine de Saint-Exupery famously said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” How can you expect to accomplish a goal without a plan to ensure that it’s going to happen? For example, my goal is to be traditionally published. My plan involves writing a book, the editing process, getting feedback on the book, reaching out to agents, etc. (By the way, my actual plan is much more detailed, but that is for another day.) If you want to accomplish your dreams, you need to make concrete plans for it, and you need to act on them .
Step 3: Keep Working Through the Ups & Downs – Succeeding at anything is never straight success. If you really, truly want it, though, it’s worth it. It might take a lot longer than you expect or your health takes a turn in a bad direction for a little bit or whatever, so you need to be patient with yourself and keep your health from keeping you down for good. Working for your dreams isn’t easy for anyone, let alone someone like us who have to deal with our own bodies on top of everything.
Step 4: Identify Problems & Deal with Them (including identifying if a goal isn’t attainable after all) – The unfortunate thing is that your goal might not be attainable, whether that’s because it never was attainable or because of things that happen in your life after you’ve set it. For example, my junior year of college, I was trying to get Aureole finally published after finishing the first draft 3 years earlier. I was finishing the drafting process to get it published before my birthday in June when I partially dislocated my hand. (I kid you not, this happened on April 1 when I was brushing my hair because that’s why my life is like.) It was the end of the semester, I was in 3 literature courses that required me to write at least 5 essays before the end of the semester, plus 2 exams, plus other projects and normal homework, and on top of it all I was trying to finish editing my first novel. My hand ended up in a splint, basically a removable cast, plus in physical therapy, and every single medical professional I saw told me that I needed to rest my hand as much as possible.
There was absolutely no way I was going to get Aureole finished by June 5. So I pushed the timeline back. I didn’t give up entirely, but I knew that if I was going to get it published at all and have proper use of my hand, I wasn’t going to be able to publish Aureole on time and do it the justice it deserved. It was more important to me that I adjust my timeline, my plan, and my expectations than it was for me to finish editing and publish it by June. I didn’t give up on my lifelong dream; I just acknowledged that it was more important to me to publish it later and edit it more than it was for me to publish it earlier.
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Step 5: Set New Goals as Necessary – Maybe you have to change your goal and start over again, or maybe you’ve achieved it so it’s time to go on to the next one. Regardless, once you reach that point, you repeat steps 1-4 over again when you have that new goal. If your dream is a big one, it might be a good idea to set several smaller once to help you along. For example, if you want to be a Hollywood actor, maybe you start with becoming a better one in your home town and trying to get roles in small productions before your make the goal to move to California. But no matter what your goals are, as long as you keep working and don’t let your health get you down, you’ll hopefully be set to achieve your dreams.