5 Tips to Help You Conquer Your Goals with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Last updated: March 2022

Have you ever felt like because you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you will never be able to achieve your future goals or accomplish things you’ve dreamed about? Perhaps before your diagnosis, you spent years working towards a career goal, only to be sidelined by rheumatoid arthritis.

Does that mean that because we have rheumatoid arthritis, we can no longer pursue goals or work towards our dreams? Not necessarily. Through my many ups and downs with RA/RD, I’ve discovered 5 tips to help you conquer your goals with rheumatoid arthritis.

5 tips to help conquer your goals

1. Choose your priorities

This is certainly a more difficult part to accept about life with RA/RD. Realistically, we can’t do everything. We are limited in what we can do by our own bodies. There are only so many bits of energy sitting around. What is the most important for you? Maybe you are in a place where your priority is to get out of bed. That’s okay. Do that. So that begs the question, what are your priorities? They have likely changed since your diagnosis, but that’s okay.

2. Change your vision

Is there a way to look at what you love a little differently? For example, before my diagnosis, I was a middle school teacher. I loved everything about the classroom - the first day of school, spending time with my students, and watching them grow. I absolutely loved it. But teaching (especially middle school) is a job that demands incredible amounts of physical energy and mental focus.

I’m pretty certain I won’t step foot in a traditional classroom ever again and, over time, I think I’ve come to accept that. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I will never teach again. I just have to change my vision of what "teaching" looks like for me. My body can’t handle a 6 AM to 4 PM teaching day, but I can handle an hour class here or an hour class there. I can handle teaching from home. And believe it or not, I even homeschool my children now. (Of course with plenty of help!)

3. Get creative

Moreover, I really believe that it is necessary for my health, both mental and physical - even if it is difficult sometimes - to continue to have dreams and to make goals. Sure, it may not be the exact same goal I started with all those years ago before diagnosis but, by changing my vision a little, I can still do what I love.

Get creative here. Is there a workaround you can come up with that allows you to still keep what you love about your career? Perhaps you can move to a consultant position or leverage some freelance skills.

4. Focus on the positive

What CAN you do? Sometimes when we think about what we’d like to accomplish, we get stonewalled by thinking about everything we can’t do. Going down that road will only lead you nowhere good.

Even if everything you list that you can do seems so small, that’s okay because small steps can lead to big changes. Put together a list and write down every single thing you can do. You might be surprised how long your list ends up being.

5. Take things in teeny, tiny, manageable steps

Perhaps you were dealt your diagnosis midpursuit of your college diploma. Our wonderful advocate Monica Y. Sengupta can really speak to some of the challenges of managing school and RA/RD. So maybe you can’t go full time; but part-time, a class here and a class there is manageable. Sure, when you take things in smaller, slower steps they might take longer. But, any progress is always better than no progress.

Breaking your goals down into bite-size pieces makes big tasks easier. And allows you to see success which, let’s be honest, feels pretty good.

So let’s hear them! What wonderful goals do you hope to accomplish in the future?

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