How to Set the Most Helpful Intentions when you have a Chronic Illness

In my first post last year, I wrote about my intention setting process and how much kinder it is when you have a chronic illness than my old approach of resolutions and goals. This year I thought I’d share in more detail a powerful process I’ve learned, that helps me focus on the most powerful intentions I could set, to move from where I am now towards where I could be in 6 months or a years’ time.

I take my time with this process, in fact, I take a whole month to set myself up for the year. Here’s how I start.

My alternate reality self

The first part of this process can be playful or based on science, depending on how you like to look at things. It’s based on the quantum mechanics principle that there are an infinite number of alternate versions of reality all happening at the same time. It doesn’t matter if that doesn’t fit with your world view though, just playing make believe will still make this a process powerful.

Imagine an alternate reality version of yourself. This version of yourself is extremely motivated and extremely skilled in all aspects of illness management and self-help. She (or he) is happy, peaceful and trusting, however, she’s starting again exactly where you are now. Imagine where this alternate version of yourself could be in 6 months’ time and in a years’ time.

I like to take my time with this and explore it in detail. I take 5 days to journal about what a difference could be made in 5 different key aspects of illness/ lifestyle management and then on the 6th day, I put together a more general picture of an ideal day 6 months or a year from now. This becomes the long-term vision I described in lasts years post. The 5 areas I explore are energy management, nutrition and hydration, movement and exercise, happiness regardless of circumstance, and peace and trust.

Once you know where your alternative reality self is going to be in 6 months or a years’ time, it’s time to put yourself on her (or his) timeline. There are two ways to work on this. Essence and moving through the gap.


The first thing to explore, is how could you bring the essence of your vision into your life as it is now. For example, within 6 month I hope to be walking every day and managing a 2km walk in nature once a week, in a year that could be 3 or 4km. I can recreate the essence of that by walking around the garden or walking to the end of the street and back, looking at the nature that’s there and watching with appreciation, wonder and joy, how it changes from day to day and week to week. Many of the ways I can bring the essence of my vision into the now involve being careful about what I pay attention to, and choosing helpful ways of being.

Moving through in the gap

The gap is the place between where you are now and your vision or intention. For me the most important part of this process is enjoying the momentum of moving through the gap. Let me state right now, this is not about reaching a destination. Instead, it’s about finding the easiest most enjoyable way to take aligned action that will not only move you forward but will also make your now better.

Before we can start moving through the gap we need to get really clear on where we are now. I usually take another 5 days to explore exactly what I’m doing right now in those 5 areas mentioned above and the steps that will move me through the gap. Being accepting and realistic about where you are right now, is incredibly important to being able to identify you first small steps.

You don’t have to be able to identify every step in the gap just the first few, and the most important thing of all is to break them down into the smallest, easiest micro-steps that you could take. Let’s take the example of moving through the gap towards being able to walk 2km. Presently I can only walk about 4 or 500m without crashing the following day, and this week I’ve only been for a walk outside twice. A small easy step might be to walk 400m outside 3 times in a week. Another might be to stroll around the garden on the days I don’t go for a walk. Another might be to make one of the walks 600m.

You may have realized that by the time I’ve described fully where I could be in 6 months and identified the essence and the micro steps, it’s already a couple of weeks into the New Year and I still haven’t started taking any deliberate action. However,  I often find that during the first couple of weeks of the year I’m still getting over the holidays, so it’s not the best time to start taking new steps anyway. This process has its own special kind of magic though and I usually find that as a result of the attention I’m paying through the journaling, I naturally start to take easy, aligned action, without any intentional effort. For example, since I first drafted this article, I’ve walked 3 times this week.

Pin showing someone walking as an example of an intentionUnfortunately, I’m going to end on a bit of a cliff-hanger today, and keep you in suspense about how to increase the momentum of moving through the gap in the easiest most effortless way. The rest will come in another post, in a week or so, when you’ve had time to get clear on your own powerful intentions, the essence and the micro steps you could take to move through the gap.

In the meantime, check out the videos on my Facebook page, as I’ve been sharing my own process in Facebook lives, as I take each of the steps I describe above!

Image courtesy of Kostin77 at

4 thoughts on “How to Set the Most Helpful Intentions when you have a Chronic Illness”

  1. Julie – I love this post! You’ve hit on such an important aspect of the process – that intention needs to be coupled with a clear vision and a plan. The act of specific visualization is truly powerful.

  2. Great post, Julie! As you know, I have my own pretty detailed start-of-year process, though this year it’s been derailed by COVID. I really like your 6-day process of imagining your ideal life – I think I will add that in this year once I am up to it.

    Thanks – I always find your posts inspiring and comforting!


    Live with ME/CFS

    • Thank you Sue, I often find that I don’t get my year started until way into January, sometimes even February! I hope you and your family get through the COVID derailment with minimal setbacks and maximal resilience. Hope you have a wonderful year!


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