Turning Aspirations into Goals
In the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis podcast, Rebecca and I had a great discussion with Dr. Dawn Eckhoff, a nationally certified telehealth provider and educator by the Center for Telehealth Innovation, Education & Research (C-TIER) at Old Dominion University. Her research focus is on goal setting & telehealth, and she joined us to discuss the art of goal setting in managing the chronic pain of arthritis.
In my job, I have the pleasure of talking with patients about what matters most to them in their care & how the healthcare system can improve to be more conducive to their needs. One of my favorite conversations to have with patients is the discussion about how they know when their arthritis treatment plan is truly working for them.
I’ve heard many things over my years in patient engagement, some of my favorite outcome goals come from Arthritis Foundation patient leaders who have said things like,
- “I’ll know my arthritis is well managed when I can take a walk around the block with my husband at the end of a long day, without having to cut it short due to my pain.”
- “My arthritis will be under control when I can brain my daughter’s hair and tuck her into bed without pain in my hands after typing all day.”
- “I am in control of my arthritis when I get a good night’s sleep – six-eight hours a night, consistently.”
These are the moments in our days that are so critical to our quality of life – the moments that we spend enjoying leisurely activities with our loved ones, taking care of our children, getting a restful night’s sleep. These are the outcomes that are hard to fit onto a medical chart. There is no lab work that will tell a provider that my arthritis is preventing me from taking a beach vacation because the pain in my ankles will be make it impossible to walk along the sandy shore.
But these can be the outcomes that matter most to our ability to live yes with arthritis. Over the years, when I’ve listened to patients in our community remark on their “what if’s” with their arthritis – I’ve always wanted to reframe their statement, transform it from an aspiration into a meaningful plan of action that could help people with arthritis achieve these moments that mean so much to their quality of life. I even think that desire to reframe what’s possible with arthritis was one of the motivating factors that led Rebecca to study occupational therapy. Early on in my experience with arthritis & patient engagement, I didn’t quite have the language to describe that sometimes the hopeful aspirations we hold in our heart to determine if our treatments are effective are quite simply: goals.
In the latest episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, we talk with an expert about the role of goal setting in pain management and arthritis care. The conversation helped me understand the art of setting and accomplishing our goals in a new way. It isn’t just the aspirational statement, but a self-care mindset that is ready to make and follow a tactical plan to help you adapt your lifestyle and accomplish your goal.
Accomplishing the goals we have, our aspirations for life with well managed arthritis, is no easy feat. It takes a village to get there – we need support from our physicians, from our loved ones, from our employers, and our friends. And it can be hard to find others that understand what an accomplishment it is when you can walk to the end of your block, three times a week, despite your chronic pain. That’s one reason I’m so excited for you to listen to this episode of the podcast – and why I’m so excited to tell you about a new goal setting and pain management app from the Arthritis Foundation. You can learn more about the app at arthritis.org/vim.