No matter what kind of support you provide, caregiving is a journey with twists and turns along the way. Circumstances change. The care you provide changes. Options for care change.
Just like in other aspects of our life, one way of staying on course and reaching our destination is by setting clear and attainable goals for ourselves.
Knowing where you are, where you want to be, and having a caregiver action plan (plus the necessary tools to navigate change) can help improve your caregiving experience. Change doesn’t have to be scary! Use our tips to create your own caregiver action plan to start setting and achieving your goals today.
Benefits of a Caregiver Action Plan
Just like in other aspects of our life, one way of staying on course and reaching our destination is by setting clear and attainable goals for ourselves. Caregiving is no different! Setting caregiver goals can lead to benefits and rewards for you and the person you are caring for. Your caregiver action plan will help ensure:
- Clarity and Focus - Knowing your caregiver goals will help define the steps you need to take to achieve them.
- Optimized Resources - Placing your resources behind what you really need to do, rather than on things you are doing by default or by deflection, will help you make better use of limited resources.
- Improved Use of Your Time - Time is a resource, but it deserves special consideration because it is so important.
- Peace of Mind - Too often you can have too many things on your mind. Writing down your caregiver goals can help you take inventory of all of those ideas, apply perspective and priority, and then push you into commitment and action.
- Focused Decision Making - Knowing what you are trying to do means that you can now ask, “Does this activity get me closer to my goal?”
- Measurable Results – Exploring and setting realistic and clear caregiver goals allows you to measure how well you are moving towards achieving them and gives you milestones to celebrate.
- Freedom of Thought - Setting goals often helps to release your creative energies and allows you to see solutions in problems you never saw before.
- Enhanced Communication – Having a caregiver support plan enables you to clarify with other people what you are trying to do and also what they can do to support you.
Caregiving is only one of many roles, relationships, and responsibilities you have that requires focus, care, and attention. Whether it’s a goal, intention, or action – knowing your purpose and making a plan is truly a very easy process and a simple strategy that can be applied to any aspect of your life. You will also find it helpful in finding your ideal work-life balance.
Goals can be big, like bringing your dad home from the hospital after a stroke; or small, like taking an extra five minutes to chat on the phone with your sick mom. Caregiver goals can also be long–term, like downsizing a home; or short–term, like making a new healthy meal by the end of the week. They can involve accomplishing a task like disposing all of your wife’s old medication or overcoming a fear such as talking to your parents about their end-of-life wishes.
If you’re finding the idea of goal setting to be daunting, take a look at our checklist below to help you get started.
How to Achieve Your Goals
1. Set your caregiver goals and objectives
Ask yourself, “Where am I now and where do I want to be?”
- What exactly do you want to achieve?
- How and when will you know you have achieved the goal?
- Is this caregiver goal realistic with the time, effort, and resources you have available?
- What is really exciting about this goal for you? Why is it important to you?
2. Explore your options
- What specifically have you done so far? What worked and what didn’t?
- What research can you do to help you find the first (or next) step?
- What do you need to do before you do anything else?
- Who else could you ask for help?
Identify your roadblocks:
- What are your potential obstacles for not accomplishing your goal?
- What are the solutions or options to get you through, over, and beyond them?
3. Make your caregiver action plan
- What is the smallest or easiest first step for you?
- Who else can help you in completing your actions?
- What’s one action you can take in the next 10 minutes?
- What are the three actions you can take that would make the most sense this week?
4. Take action
How are you going to stay motivated and committed?
- Dare to declare: Who are you going to ask to support you and keep you accountable?
- Write it down and post it: Where are you going to write and post your action plan?
- Be ready for setbacks: How do you normally respond to setbacks? How are you going to respond differently this time?
- How will you feel after you have taken your actions?
- How will you reward yourself?
5. Evaluate your caregiver goals:
Did you accomplish what you set-out to achieve?
- Your wins (accomplishments, positive changes, etc.)
- What you didn’t get done, but wanted to.
- The challenges and concerns you are facing now.
- The opportunities which are available to you right now.
- Do you need to set new caregiver goals?
Strategies for Sticking With Your Caregiver Plan of Action
Setting goals is a great way to set about changing things for the better. Goals help you stay on track and proceed with a purpose. As with anyone setting goals, life as a busy caregiver has a way of interfering with your progress. Instead of getting hung-up on setbacks, re-evaluate your situation and your goal, you’ll find a way to work around any obstacle and find the success you’re aiming for.
Write Down Your Goals
Some people find writing their goals down can help keep them on track. Try to:
- Write your goals down in your journal
- Write them on a sticky note and place it somewhere visible
- Set a reminder in your calendar
When it comes to getting things done—which caregiving requires a lot of—the first thing you have to do is get your thoughts out of your head by capturing them somewhere. Your brain is not meant to hold everything you have (or want) to do, and keeping it all up in there can create a sense of chaos, frustration, and fear.
One great way of getting it all out is to do a brain dump. A brain dump is a strategy to help you get all of the clutter and thoughts out of your head, which can prevent you from thinking clearly and make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. By taking everything out of your head and putting it on paper, you should be able to keep moving forward instead of being stuck in the chaos and always looking back to see what might have slipped through the cracks.
Take some time to do your own brain dump and notice what is on your list:
- Is there anything that you can scratch off?
- What is important and what is not?
- Can you prioritize the important things?
- Is there anything on your list that you could accomplish today, tomorrow or in a week? If so take some time and work through your caregiver plan of action carefully.
Share Your Caregiver Goals with Others
Your caregiver goals and objectives will be more likely accomplished if they are shared with others. Dare to declare your goals! Consider sharing your goals with someone supportive that will hold you accountable and provide you with healthy feedback and encouragement.
Rewarding yourself once you’ve hit a milestone or accomplished a goal will also help you to stay motivated and improve your self-esteem. Example rewards include:
- Take a set amount of time just for yourself to do whatever your little heart desires.
- Have your favourite meal or treat.
- Buy a book or two that have been on your wish list.
- Buy a small item you have had your eye on.
- Call a friend and set a date to spend time together.
- Spend some quality time with the one you care for.
Plan for Setbacks
Keeping your expectations realistic to avoid self-defeat and judgement are critical when executing your caregiver goals and objectives. Beating yourself up over a setback or delay in accomplishing your goal(s) will only deplete your self-esteem and energy. Instead, understand that you will slip up and plan for it accordingly. This will help you get back on track quickly which is a key component of success in any endeavor. It’s okay if things don’t always go as planned; you’ll find a way to manage and move forward with success!
Whether your caregiver goals are personal or professional, don’t forget to set a strategy to ensure your caregiver action plan is successful! What are your caregiver goals for 2018? Let us know in the comments below.