I use recovering from a broken neck as an example of how to set a life goal to get through crisis or change.

In my last blog, I wrote about integrating my goal with my core values.

In this blog, I cover making the goal Measured, by setting Gateways to achieve the goal.

If you would like to discuss your own goals, then get in contact with me:

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Bernard McKeown IMPACT Goal to swim around Looe Island as a reward. Making his goal measured.

I want to swim around Looe Island as a reward for my recovery

Gateways to your goals

After setting my goal and acknowledging my current situation, integrated my goal with my values to give the motivation to pursue my goal.

Here, I cover setting the “Gateways” that I need pass through to reach my goal.

Gateways can be steps, rewards and habits.

They are called Gateways because it is a measure of my progress to my goal as I pass through them.

Setting an IMPACT Goal enabled me to identify the steps that I would need to take, the habits to reinforce them and the rewards that I would give myself along the way.

In long-term life goals, it is possible that you might not know exactly when you will pass through each Gateway.

Instead, figure out their order and set a date to do the first, then each the subsequent one as you complete them.

It’s possible to work on several Gateways at the same time, for instance on a step whilst you are changing a habit.

My first step was to rest

The best piece of advice I received for my recovery from a broken neck was to “put rest at the top of your To Do List”.

It’s something that I hadn’t considered: that my body was doing the most important thing that it could – that is to heal – whilst I simply rested.

If I felt tired or any pain, I would simply go and lie down till I felt better.

This didn’t come naturally to me as someone who wants doing something every minute of the day!

I prioritised having a sleep during the day, even though I really hate wasting any daylight during the winter months.

As I started to feel more frustrated as I felt better, I used this advice as a reminder not to overexert myself and risk taking a backward step.

It really underpinned achieving my goal, so I made prioritising rest a habit during my recovery.

Eat right

A broken neck can consist several different injuries because of the complexity of the spine.

As well as chipping and fracturing my spine, I traumatised my spinal nerves.

My right arm was paralysed immediately after the accident due to this.

I also damaged the ligaments, which are much more difficult to repair than muscle because of the limited blood supply to them.

So, I needed help knowing how to adjust my diet and supplements to take account of this.

Fortunately, my favourite nutritionist, Nicola Allenby, came to my aid.

As well as ensuring that I had a balanced diet, she augmented it with a range of supplements to:

  • Repair nerve and brain damage from the impact
  • Ensure the right minerals were available to rebuild the broken bones
  • Strengthen the ligaments to provide spinal stability
  • Boost my immune system to cope with winter viruses and help me avoid Covid-19

She also supported my recovery with homeopathy and other supplements to reduce inflammation.

This needed to be done at the right time, as inflammation also has an important role in repairing an injury.

With quite a concoction of supplements, I planned when to take them to best effect, so made this a daily habit.

Listen to the experts

Such supplements are specialised, so I recommend speaking to a professional nutritionist such as Nicola Allenby rather than self-prescribing.

The other expert that was central to my injury was my neurosurgeon.

I prioritised his advice above all, so when he told me at my 6 week review that if I felt any increase pain, I was potentially causing damage, I immediately stopped doing anything that had caused my pain to worsen.

This included putting physiotherapy on hold.

His advice made me recognise that I needed to let the healing take place before I embarked on muscle strengthening exercises provided by my physio.

Once my spine was stable and I was out of the neck brace, there would be time to work on that with my physio on strengthening the muscles affected by my injury and rehabilitation.

Rewarding a long recovery

I gave myself many small rewards for progress, but the reward that I really want is a long sea swim to show myself that I have fully recovered.

This might be swimming round Looe Island or doing one the swims arranged by the Openwater Swimming Society… I haven’t decided which yet!

In my next blog, I will share the how I made my IMPACT Goal “Positive” despite the scary situation I was in.

In the meantime, if you would like to get in touch, you can contact me here:

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