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  • Writer's pictureDr. Meghan Ryan

New Year, New Me?

Happy new year to all you Take a Pain Check fans! My name is Meghan Ryan and I am a pediatric rheumatology fellow (aka trainee) and a member of TAPC medical advisory board. I am honoured to write the first blog of the year and thought I would talk about goal setting and new year’s resolutions.

Have you thought about what you want 2022 to look like? Do you have a New Year’s resolution? Honestly, I am still trying to figure out what my new year’s resolution will be. The typical resolutions of eating healthier or exercising are always at the top of my list, but over the years I have found it more and more challenging to stick with a new year’s resolution. In years past, I would set a goal of eating healthier by not eating chocolate or desserts. Each day, I would give myself a pat on the back for sticking with my goal, but then temptations would creep in with excuses to justify why it was okay to enjoy a tasty morsel of chocolate. My favourite excuse being that dark chocolate is healthy, so really, I am being healthy by eating this. Once excuses roll in, I am done for. This sequence of events has happened more than once and has led me to not even bother making a new year’s resolution the last two years.

As I sat down to write this blog post, I came across a Forbes article titled “4 Reasons To Make New Year’s Resolutions (Even If You Don’t Keep Them)” written by Dr. Tracy Brower who has a Ph.D. in sociology. This article began with some stats about new year’s resolutions. About 25% of Americans make new year’s resolutions, 20% believe they will accomplish them, but only 8% achieve them. Huh, so I am not alone. Despite these low numbers, 86% of people expect 2022 to be the same or better than 2021. Dr. Brower goes on to explain that setting a new year’s resolution, though you may not keep it, is a good practice. First, it allows you to honestly self-reflect on your current condition and, with intention, determine how and what you want your future condition to look like.

Okay, so a current condition that I can think of for which I would like to see improvement…hmm. I currently do not exercise much, a reality that my 20-year-old self would have scoffed at. I should exercise more. Check! I think I have come up with my area of focus. Now how on earth do I follow through on exercising “more.” Being SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) is a great way to set achievable goals. My smarter goal should instead be to do a 25-minute home exercise video at least 4 times per week. Perfect! Now I have a resolution. How about you? Can you come up with a New Year’s Resolution using the SMART goal?

Goal setting can be especially beneficial for individuals with chronic disease. As a provider, I encourage my patients to set goals because at the end of the day, patient-driven goals are more meaningful to that individual’s life. Can you think of a SMART goal related to your arthritis, rheumatic disease, or any health condition in need of improvement? What changes in your life will help you achieve this? If you are having a hard time coming up with some thoughts, try thinking about what you are passionate about or what energizes you. If your health condition makes it hard to do what you are passionate about, then maybe this can be an area of focus. Know that you don’t have to do this by yourself and be open to asking for help.

Dr. Brower goes on to say that, though this is a resolution created by and for you, the impact of your resolution is likely to affect and can even inspire others. I couldn't agree more. Though my resolution is focused on exercise, I know I am a better mom, wife, and person when I take care of myself. I encourage you all to set the stage for 2022 by taking the time to come up with your SMART goals for this year.

It also allows me to know what drives my patients. For those who love a certain sport, crafting, reading, or even being a host of a podcast, knowing what energizes you may even impact treatment choices in a way that improves your quality of life.


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