I feel like there is a lot of talk about goals these days and for good reason. In my day job life, I think about goals a lot. As a coach, as a person who builds community, as a navigator to resources, I think about what is the desired goal or outcome and then set a plan in motion.
I feel that sometimes we get so caught up in being patients and getting through the everyday, that we sometimes lose focus of what our goals are.
Thinking about asthma goals: It's a good thing
I have heard about this question being asked at more and more appointments. I think this is a good thing. I have had both a negative and a positive experience with this question at appointments. In one hand, it brought to light by my physician and I realized that we did not actually have the same goals. They sincerely thought we did. My inner voice wanted to ask them what planet they were on but instead I took a moment to pause and restate what my goals were. This prompted a whole discussion on actually identifying and redefining our goals and also an opportunity to discuss what is realistic. Goals are great, I am a firm believer in go big or go home. The challenge can be, while there is not currently a cure for asthma, there are ways to manage it well and live a vibrant life.
Goals change with your asthma journey
If I think about my asthma journey my initial goals were to be able to make it up my stairs. What did the plan for addressing this goal look like? At that stage, it was finding a medication regiment that worked for me and provided me with relief and control to get back to doing the things I wanted to do. My goals at that time were to have the best “normal” I could have. I still use climbing stairs as a bit of an acid test. Can I make it up them without being out breath? Interestingly enough it is also how I gauge a chance in symptom control. My goals are not always scientific but they surely are related to my quality of life. This can also be used in setting new goals, since I have been going through a period of improvement. I used goal setting as a way of identifying new goals, how can I ensure that I can participate in a greater intensity of physical activity? Using this goal, I made it known to my care team/village that my primary goal is to have improved, sustained participation in physical activity. I made a plan for myself. An abridged example is below.
Q: What is the goal?
A: Sustained participation in physical activity.
Q: How will I get there?
A: Using my care team, careful monitoring of my symptoms, prophylactic treatment when appropriate. Try to add intensity or a new activity at regular intervals.
Q: What is the vision for the future?
A: Participate in a cycling race in 2018.
Q: What is the priority?
A: Stay healthy and keep actively training
Q: What is my strategy for getting there?
A: Working with my care team to stay heathy. Working with a cycling coach for an asthma friendly training plan. Practice, practice, practice!
Q: How will know that I have met them?
A: I am still working on this part of the plan but I am developing macro and micro goals. Participating in x number of days of physical activity is my first goal. Right now, I am trying to get 2-3 intensive days of training in a week. I also have a new job, so it has thrown me a bit off my goal. However, I am modifying my training to reflect this. My goal for this is avoiding exacerbation. Sometimes, you need to be flexible on your goals.
My next step is to map out an asthma goal trajectory. For now, it is one step at a time.
Do you get muscle cramps caused by your asthma medicine?