The week comes to an end. I take a moment to settle down, reread the week, take note of how things are going and see what I had planned, what I did or didn’t do, what I would have liked to do. In the phases when I am not doing so well, there are often a lot of things I would have liked to have done, but didn’t do. It’s quite frustrating, especially since I’m more the type of person who wants to do a lot of things. However, at the beginning of my illness, I used to plan long to-do lists, without discerning why I wanted to do these things. But over time, I learned that knowing how to set priorities is essential when you have a chronic disease. It allows you to consciously choose how you use the little energy you have available.
Distinguishing what is imposed from what is chosen
The priorities in our lives are both imposed and chosen.1. What is imposed
The outside world constantly prescribes priorities for us: school or university deadlines, professional commitments, administrative procedures, etc. There are also things that are dictated by the disease: doctors’ appointments, other administrative files, hospitalizations, etc. All these additional constraints are often numerous and tiring. The list can quickly become long.
It goes without saying that, in the end, you also choose to do what is imposed on you. You could very well say to yourself that you give up and do nothing. But it’s not necessarily a very viable solution if you want to study, work, take care of an already somewhat failing health, etc.
Within the constraints imposed, I think it’s important to reflect on whether:
- You really need to do everything.
- Perhaps someone could help you with certain tasks.
- You can make it easier in one way or another, for example, by having the grocery shopping delivered rather than doing it yourself (yes, yes, this is a personal point of view, but for me, food shopping is more a constraint than a choice).
However, you should not forget to choose your priorities, what is important for you. No one else will be able to decide this for you, or else it will not really be chosen, but imposed once again, even under the guise of good intentions. I think that if you only carry out imposed tasks, there comes a time when you get saturated because you never really feel that you really determine what you do. Then grows a feeling of being permanently in the “I must “, and never in the “I want”.
Setting your priorities
It’s one thing to want to choose priorities, it’s another to actually do it. When you have a chronic disease, you have to take into account the fact that you have overall little energy at your disposal, more or less depending on the phase you are in.
In choosing my priorities, I therefore ask myself the following questions:
- What are my goals? What do I not want to regret? What would I feel I’d be missing if I didn’t do it?
- What is really important to me right now? Why? How does this serve my goals? Will it still be important in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years from now? If not, is it worth doing it?
- How much energy do I have at my disposal right now?
- Is it a priority at the moment, or something I would like to do and which can become a priority when things get better?
Once I have decided what is essential at that moment, I can rank my priorities according to my level of fatigue.
Ranking your priorities
Once I know my priorities, I can rank them in order of importance and urgency. Personally, I use Evernote to organise myself. I find it very practical with a system of notebooks and labels to classify notes. I make sure I don’t put too many things on my to-do list, otherwise I’m sure I won’t make it and I know it will annoy me.
Ranking your priorities also means wondering what you’re going to skip first if you are not doing so well. When I wake up in the morning and realise that it’s going to be a harder day because of my physical condition, I readjust my priorities for the day and change my to-do list. But I always try to do at least one thing during the day, even when I am not doing too well, so that I don’t feel like I’ve lost my day.
So, choice intervenes several times when you set your priorities: by choosing to do what is imposed on you, by choosing your personal priorities and by ranking them. Deciding to make one’s health a priority when you have a chronic disease can also become a choice, even if it was initially imposed on you. I think it is part of the path of acceptance of a disease to choose to take care of yourself and make it a priority.
Picture by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash