The Value of Looking Ahead

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by Jamie Hughes |

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Next week, I will be celebrating my second “quarantine birthday,” which is both amazing and sad. I honestly had no idea we’d still be dealing with COVID-19 for more than a year, and what a strange and perplexing time it has been. I think the thing that has hit me hardest is the inability to plan ahead with any sense of surety. (If you’ve read my column for any length of time, you know how much I love planning and keeping things in order!)

Making plans and setting goals are how I keep myself motivated. It helped when I was working toward two degrees as an undergraduate, and it certainly kept me focused when I was diagnosed with MS in graduate school.

I felt so overwhelmed, especially when I didn’t feel well and had zero energy, so I took a look at the calendar, broke the semester down by week, and made it happen. It was easier to take on bite-sized chunks of time than entire months, and that’s how I approached it.

I also visualized how good I would feel at the end of the term, having accomplished my goals. And by reframing my thoughts, I found I had a little more energy to get things done. Keeping my eyes focused forward helped me break the inertia, and once I get started, I can usually keep going. I’m like a marathon runner that way.

For a while during quarantine, my calendar was a blank slate. Seriously. No school dates to write down, no kids’ games or practice schedules to keep up with. No family get-togethers. No hangouts with friends. No date nights. No nothing!

But now that I’ve had my second shot of the Pfizer vaccine and am well on my way to immunity, my calendar is starting to blossom like a garden, resplendent in a dozen different colors (because you know me, it has to be color-coded).

Heck, I’m even excited about the prospect of buying a new planner and filling it with things as 2021-2022 roll along. (For the record, I’m hoping to snag one of the Kelly green ones this go-round.) I’m not going to lie. Having things to look forward to fills me with such hope and joy.

The world is going to take its sweet time getting back to “normal,” I know. There are still pandemic hot spots, and we’re not out of the woods yet. It may feel like I’m walking uphill through sludge, but at least I’m on the way to something.

Rather than be mired in the muck or stuck behind a pandemic wall, try setting a few goals or making a few plans that are safe and are in keeping with your ability and comfort level. You’ll be surprised at the difference having something to look forward to makes in your body, soul, and spirit.

Let’s stay safe and finish this very strange season well.

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Note: Multiple Sclerosis 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 Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

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