Goal Setting Is an Important Strategy in Managing My Lung Disease

Charlene Marshall avatar

by Charlene Marshall |

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Last week, I wrote a column about needing to slow down as a patient living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Since its publication, I have spent a lot of time strategizing about how to do that. I am often guilty of saying I need to do something but neglecting to identify tangible steps that will enable me to follow through.

When a task is important enough, I always find a way to accomplish it. However, it can be stressful and exhausting to complete certain tasks, especially when I already feel stretched to the limit. One strategy I want to employ is goal setting, as I explore how to slow down in the coming months despite taking on an additional method of managing my lung disease.

Balancing responsibilities

This past week, I spent time examining my responsibilities and whether they bring me joy — a real Marie Kondo approach. The “problem” I’ve found, and I use that term loosely because it’s a great problem to have, is that almost everything I do in a week brings me joy. With the exception of mundane tasks like laundry and housework, I enjoy everything: my time with friends, career requirements, crafting opportunities, quiet time, and IPF advocacy work.

Not only do all of these responsibilities bring me joy and benefit my mental health, but some support my financial needs as well. There are many costs involved in living with a life-threatening lung disease, so I can’t drop these important sources of income.

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Living with IPF Has Shifted My Financial Priorities

Earlier this week, my transplant team recommended another round of pulmonary rehabilitation due to my declining lung function, and I quickly became overwhelmed by the idea of adding something else to my plate. I don’t know how to manage it all.

I regularly use goal setting in my work as a child and family therapist. Most of the support I provide to families involves helping them set and achieve both long- and short-term goals. Applying this strategy to my own life may help me manage my fatigue and the requirements of IPF, such as this next round of pulmonary rehab.

Research has shown that setting goals can result in a less chaotic, more relaxed lifestyle, which is what I’m seeking. But where do I start?

Setting priorities

I’ve been following advice from several reputable online sources, including a 2019 article published on Lucemi Consulting’s website about how to set and achieve your goals. This process may seem simple to some, but for me, it seems like I am good at helping others reach their goals, but struggle with this skill in my own life.

One thing the article recommended was to identify your priorities, which may include financial security, physical and mental health, and family obligations. Your goals should then align with your priorities.

My pulmonary rehabilitation will directly improve my physical health, making it highly important. I must prioritize my other IPF-related responsibilities as well, such as taking medications on time, getting enough sleep, and exercising.

While setting goals for all aspects of my life seems overwhelming, I foresee this prioritization strategy enabling me to manage my lung disease more effectively. Maybe in time, when I’ve had success setting and accomplishing IPF-related goals, I can expand this strategy to help me identify where and how I can slow down.


Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.


Karen Martin avatar

Karen Martin

Not to plug a magazine, but quite some time ago Good Housekeeping magazine instituted their "good enough" column. It has made me think about some things differently. Maybe I haven't done a super deep clean of an area of my home or made a gourmet dinner, but if I have made a heartfelt attempt to do a job that is "good enough," that will do for now. We are so often our own worst critics. This has helped me to be a little more lenient. :)

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Karen,

Thanks so much for reading my column and reaching out via the comments. I will definitely check out that column as I like the idea of things being "good enough" and challenging ourselves to accept that...very important in our battle against IPF. Thanks for sharing, I'll definitely take a peak at it.

Holly W Patient avatar

Holly W Patient

Hello, Charlene!
I think that one step you can and should take, is to hire someone to help with your housework. You may look on having a housekeeper as a luxury-- I certainly always did, yet I was encouraged to get help this past summer when we were preparing for an at-home wedding. She tackled "big"jobs like cleaning and organizing the pantry, mucking out under-sink cabinets, moving washer, dryer, freezer and fridge to clean behind. You get the idea! Then she moved on to making bathrooms sparkle and furniture shine. The wedding is over, and she continues to help out a couple of days a month. Yes, I could use that money elsewhere, but what a grand feeling to not have those domestic chores hanging over my head, and always feeling guilty about the state of my home. If you feel you cannot afford it, perhaps suggest professional housekeeping fees as a possible Christmas or birthday gift. We've all saved money during covid by skipping meals and drinks out with friends, no movies or concerts, etc. Just direct those funds elsewhere. You deserve it!

Charlene Marshall avatar

Charlene Marshall

Hi Holly,

So nice to hear from you! As always, thank you for reading my column and reaching out via the comments. I think you raise some really good points about the housework; it would preserve so much energy and be able to tackle some things that trigger a terrible cough for me such as vacuuming and dusting. Really good ideas about Christmas or birthday gift; both of those are coming up in the next month and it is something I could likely fit into my budget to continue as well. Like you say, the peace of mind it creates is beyond a dollar figure :) Thanks for writing.


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