Creating and executing a take-charge weekly plan for arthritis

Take-charge planning is a means of reaching your ultimate goal through a succession of short-term goals. Think of it as a weekly contract that you make with yourself.

Creating and executing a take-charge weekly plan for arthritis

Draw up your weekly take-charge plan

Each week you assign yourself a series of specific actions, then build on your accomplishments from week to week. Ideally, someone who could climb only five stairs at week one will be climbing three flights after several weeks.

Success is in the details

  • The key to a successful plan is to make your actions specific (so they will be easier to repeat) and measurable (so you can easily score your success in completing them).
  • If "walking" is one of your actions, for example, specify when you intend to walk ("before breakfast"), where ("around the block"), how often ("Monday, Wednesday and Friday") and for how long ("10 minutes").
  • If your plan is too ambitious, you may become discouraged by failure.
  • On the other hand, you won't make progress if your plan is too modest. Ideally, try to include actions that are doable but that require a little effort.
  • Once you've fulfilled those actions, aim for slightly more ambitious actions for the next week.
  • In writing up your weekly take-charge plan, be as specific as possible.
  • State what you plan to do, how much you intend to do, when and where you will do those actions and how many days a week you'll do them.

Put your take-charge plan into action

  • Now comes the hard part: following through on the weekly plan that you've devised. Be prepared to do some work and perhaps even make some sacrifices.
  • How many actions should you pack into your weekly plan and how often should you do them and how much effort should you expend on them?
  • The best advice is to take things slow and easy.Schedule just one or two actions for your first week.
  • Beginning with just a couple of actions increases the odds that you will follow through on your assignment and that your weekly take-charge plan will develop into a habit.
  • How often will you do them?
  • Doing something every day can be tedious. Probably the best frequency for any action is three to four times a week. The one exception is medication, which needs to be taken as prescribed by your doctor.
  • How much will you do? Take your present condition as your starting point and progress gradually from there.
  • If your knees hurt after you walk one block, your first plan should not call for walking a mile.
  • On the other hand, you don't want to be so easy on yourself that you don't progress. As with so much in life, moderation is the best policy.
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