I’m Challenging Myself to Set Goals in the New Year

Columnist Alyssa Silva discusses having control in life with SMA

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by Alyssa Silva |

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I’ve never been the type of person to set goals. I realize how this could be misconstrued. But the truth is I’m not lazy or unmotivated. In fact, I pride myself on being determined. I’ve always been willing to take on new challenges and write my own success stories. They’ve just never been methodically planned out in a goal-setting type of way.

I touched upon this idea in a January 2019 column while discussing why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. (Let it be known that 2023 won’t be any different. New year, same me!) But the same holds true for why I don’t set goals: SMA is too unpredictable for me to map out my life in such a way that I’d have enough control to accomplish them.

Feeling as though I’m not in control has been something I’ve struggled with for many years. I’m often at the mercy of my body and how it feels on any given day, which determines what I can or can’t accomplish. Moreover, unexpected health issues can happen at any moment, derailing me from any goals I set for myself.

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Setting Hopeful, Encouraging Goals for 2023 and Beyond

Trying to survive

Unfortunately, this was a hard lesson I learned this year. 2022 did not unfold as I imagined it would on Jan. 1. There was a point when any semblance of control I thought I had was gone.

After a monthlong hospitalization in February, my health became fragile. Every time I’d fix one issue, another would arise. I was constantly in and out of the hospital for procedures. I was adjusting to my new medical equipment, learning my body’s new limits, and trying to keep up with work and my personal life. Day to day, I was simply trying to survive. So the idea of having goals seemed like a great way to set myself up for failure.

But with hard lessons comes clarity. And as I seemingly lost control, I had to ask myself: Was I really losing control of my life, or was I just unwilling to adapt to new circumstances?

The more I reflected on this question, the more I began to realize that control can sometimes be an illusion. I may not be able to control what happens to me, especially when it comes to my body. But I can control how I respond. I can adapt. It may be difficult and I may be stubborn about it, but I can do it. I’ve adapted before.

This shift in perspective didn’t happen overnight for me. In fact, I’m still reminding myself to drop the need for control over many aspects of my life. But as soon as I started thinking in this new way, I began to reconsider this idea of setting goals.

Perhaps my goals don’t need concrete deadlines. Perhaps if I gave myself a little more grace and understanding, considering my circumstances, I’d be more accepting if I don’t reach my goals. As I’m envisioning this and the possibility of dreaming bigger, I’m getting more exhilarated for new and different challenges ahead. Could 2023 be the year I finally turn the page?

Note: SMA News Today 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 SMA News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


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