As the end of the year approaches, it’s a great reminder for all of us to take time to reflect on the last year and set goals for the next 12 months. This is especially true for family caregivers—those who provide physical, emotional, and financial support to their loved ones. It can be daunting to take care of an aging parent or a chronically ill partner, but reflecting on what’s working, what is no longer serving you, and setting goals accordingly can help you stay focused and organized throughout the year. Staying focused on achievable goals can also help you avoid consequences like burnout or anxiety. Let’s look at how setting goals can benefit your role as a caregiver, and offer some suggestions for what those goals might be.
Why Set Goals?
Goal setting is a powerful tool that provides motivation, improves focus, gives you something to work toward, and helps you stay organized. Goals give us something to strive for—something that we can measure our progress against. They provide a sense of accomplishment when achieved and help keep us on track between achievements. Moreover, having achievable goals that are both measurable and realistic will ensure that your hard work pays off and you give your wins the attention they deserve.
It’s also important to remember that goal setting isn’t just about achieving targets; it’s also about creating positive habits that will lead to long-term success as a caregiver. When you set realistic goals, it gives you something tangible to work towards—which can help reduce stress and anxiety when faced with challenging situations or difficult decisions.
3 Goals for Family Caregivers in 2023
Goal 1: Get Organized and Reduce Mental Clutter
Being organized will help streamline your tasks as a family caregiver so that you have more time to spend with your loved one or dedicate to self-care activities (see the next goal). It can be overwhelming trying to keep track of schedules, appointments, and daily tasks as a family caregiver. Invest in some tools that will help simplify your life like an online calendar or task management software.
Beyond day-to-day affairs, here’s a short list of bigger things to consider getting organized to make your life easier and clear mental clutter in 2023:
Medical documents. Gather together your loved one’s prescriptions, diagnostic paperwork, x-ray/ultrasound/bloodwork results, etc., and put it into a portable and tabbed filing system. Having all of the medical paperwork you need in one place will make it easier to take to appointments or show to new specialists to get them up to speed much quicker.
Emergency plans and kits. Pull together all emergency contact information, create an emergency checklist (with a reminder to grab things like prescriptions and paperwork), and create contingency plans for different disaster situations that might occur in your area (for example, a natural disaster such as a flood, fire, earthquake, or a personal disaster, like a fall or medical emergency). You’ll feel much more confident and at ease without that back-of-the-mind fear taking up your mental space.
Personal affairs. Make sure you have advanced directives, such as a will and power of attorney (or any other such legal documents) created, reviewed by an attorney, and organized. In the event something happens (like your loved one becomes incapacitated, for example), having these documents on file and squared away will save a lot of stress down the line.
Goal 2: Make Time for Self-Care Activities.
Self-care is essential for everyone; however, it often falls lower down on our priority list when we are taking care of others. Make sure to set aside time each day (or week) just for yourself—whether that means taking a yoga class online, having dinner with friends via Zoom, or sitting on the couch for an hour with a good book.
Taking care of yourself should be just as much of a priority as taking care of your loved one. As the adage goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So schedule time each day dedicated solely to self-care activities such as exercising, reading books, or meditating.
Goal 3: Develop and Maintain Supportive Relationships.
Caring for someone else doesn’t mean sacrificing your own relationships. On a separate note, it is also important to build relationships with other caregivers who understand the unique challenges you face every day so that you have someone to turn to when needed. Joining support groups or attending events hosted by organizations related to caregiving can be helpful resources in finding understanding people who are going through similar situations as you are.
Closing Thoughts: New Year’s Goal Setting for Family Caregivers
Setting goals can be beneficial both emotionally and practically when you are caring for someone else—and there are lots of ways you can do this heading in 2023. They provide motivation and direction while offering us something tangible to strive towards each day. As a family caregiver in 2023, make sure you’re setting achievable goals that will benefit both yourself and your loved ones throughout the year ahead. With these three goal ideas in mind—get organized; prioritize self-care activities; develop supportive relationships—you’ll be well on your way towards achieving success next year.
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If you’re looking for a community of caregivers that truly understands what you’re going through. A group you can turn to when you have questions, frustrations, or need advice? Join our California Family Caregivers Facebook group today.
Our California Family Caregivers Facebook group is a safe space for caregivers across different communities in California to speak about their caregiving journey and interact with one another. Join us today.