Family members want you to be happy, and even if they cannot express that any more, you know that if they were able, they would encourage you to find joy and success.

But right now, their happiness becomes the priority and you have to put your own plans on the backburner for a while.

Sometimes you have to realise you may not be able to accomplish your own dreams or ambitions right away, but that’s no reason to give up or stop making progress. A climb up Mount Everest begins with a single step, and that’s how you have to treat your own projects.

Here are some steps we encourage for keeping your dreams alive alongside caring.

Plan your timeline

Draw up a plan, listing all the activities you want to accomplish and state a deadline for each task. Activities can be something simple, such as planning, researching, or devising a financial plan. It could be developing skills with an online course to prepare yourself for a career transition.

Create a vision board

Succeeding in your vision is as much about remembering it as about working towards it.

A vision board is a physical collage containing images and messages that inspire you. Place it on a wall you see every day to remind you of your goals.

It doesn’t need to be a work of art; it can be a low-fi cut-and-paste job as long as it works for you.

Monitor your success with a tick off list

It could be a spreadsheet, a pen and sheet of A3 paper, a whiteboard or a fancy project management tool, but there needs to be a physical copy of your document somewhere you see every day. Just like your vision board, it will spur you on to make little steps of progress and remind you of your successes, which in turn will create the motivation to plough on.

Weekly reviews

It’s easy to go off the boil with some of your plans if you’ve had a week where you haven’t slept well or your care responsibilities have increased, so check in with yourself weekly. This may mean moving your deadlines and amending your timeline, but it’s better to adapt than to give up on the plan altogether.

Find an accountability partner

This is a friend you give permission to ask you about your project and catch up with from time to time on the phone or on Skype. Their job is to remind you of what you are supposed to be doing. This is not to create guilt (we don’t approve of you feeling guilty, that’s just a waste of energy!) but to keep your attention on your big picture.

Reward yourself

Rewards are essential for making progress, so each time you take a positive step towards your dream, ensure you are giving yourself a pat on the back with a gift to yourself or a meal with your best friends or partner.

Reframe your feelings about caring

If the negative emotions get in the way and you become despondent, don’t beat yourself up. Recognise your feelings.

But remember that caring has many upsides. It’s an honour to look after your person in times of need, and doing so can help you grow in love and compassion.

Also, realise that spending time with someone who is unwell or not able to do all the things they used to can help you focus what’s really important to you. This means you can get rid of the things in your life that you were hanging onto out of habit or loyalty and get to work on what makes your soul come alive.

Even if you spend 20 minutes a day performing one action that brings you closer to your dream, you are making a lot more progress than most people who don’t have someone they are caring for.

If you need a little more time to plan, prepare or build your dream, the Me2U Centre is here to give you that extra day or two so you can start to put your dreams in motion.