New Year’s Vision Planning Workshop for Chronic Illness Patients

January 15, 2024

Welcome to our Vision Planning Workshop for Chronic Illness Patients with Dr. Monica Blied, a licensed psychologist and lupus warrior who serves on Lupus LA’s Medical Advisory Board!

Did you know that setting clear intentions and vision planning can significantly impact the well-being and quality of life for those with chronic illnesses? Studies show that engaging in vision planning can lead to a 30% increase in life satisfaction and a 25% improvement in health outcomes for chronic illness patients. When you live with a chronic condition, your life can often feel unpredictable and out of control. Vision planning empowers you to focus on what you can control. It helps in creating a sense of purpose and intention, which can be help in navigating the challenges of a chronic illness.

Unlike traditional New Year’s resolutions that primarily focus on listing goals, this workshop invites you to articulate who you want to be and how you’d like to show up in the world in 2024! You’ll also create personal affirmations and intentions for the year. To download the “New Year’s Vision Planning Guide” used in today’s session, visit: https://beacons.ai/drblied or visit: Drblied.com/resources.



Hello. My name is Dr. Monica Blied. I am a licensed clinical psychologist in southern California. The founder of Faces of Health, the online education course suite and mental health skills training app. And I’m a lupus warrior myself! I’ve been living with lupus since 2012, and with fibromyalgia and a bunch of other chronic illnesses, because you can’t just have one! I’m also a neurodivergent individual, late diagnosed.

So, there are a number of unique identities that I bring to my professional work and also the resources that I try to provide for the Lupus LA community. So thank you again so much, Lupus LA, for having me today. Not just having me as a member of your medical advisory board, but also as a guest to share with everyone New Year’s vision planning.

What better time than the new year to think about the new year, to think about the things that you want to do, right. The things that you want to do, the things that you want to accomplish, all those goals. I want to eat healthier. I want to lose weight.

Well, guess what? This is not about that. This is different. So this session today is not about creating New Year’s resolutions, because what the research shows is that by February 1, 80% of resolutions have gone down the hill. And they’ve tracked the statistics, based on gym memberships and workout gym attendance. I usually say by February 15, like, okay, it’s time to start breaking those new year’s resolutions. So, as a clinical psychologist who studies, human behavior, I know that that is not always the most effective way to get something accomplished. 

So we’re going to do something a little bit different. This is a “Dr. Blied original,” Dr. Blied special: It’s called vision planning. I’m providing this information to you all today, and I’m actually going to share my screen. Brianna with Lupus LA, is going to paste links below so that you have access to this resource on your own, but you don’t need to pull that up right now. All you need right now is your mind, perhaps a smile. It’s okay if you don’t have one yet!

You willl also need a piece of paper or your phone somewhere to write things down. I will share my screen and we can get started. 

Okay, so this is your new year’s vision planning guide. So, different than resolutions. We’re not going to discuss today what you want to do or the goals that you want to accomplish.. We’re going to talk about who do you want to be and how do you want to show up in 2024 and beyond. But before we even start that, we’re going to down regulate our nervous systems.

Step 1: Relaxation | Down-regulating Your Nervous System 

We’re going to get our body into a better state of relaxation so that we can access our frontal lobe, that front part of our brain that helps us with our planning and our problem solving and our rational thinking, so that we can really make the most of this opportunity together.

So what I’d like you to do is wherever you are, just drop whatever’s in your hand, put your feet flat on the floor if you can, or maybe you’re sitting in a bed, that’s fine too. But place your hand on your lap and take a deep breath.

As you breathe in, I want you to try to focus on inhaling through your nostrils and that inhale, expanding your belly so your belly gets bigger as you inhale. That actually activates our diaphragm; it’s called diaphragmatic breathing. And that engages our parasympathetic nervous system and our vagus nerve, which again, helps our bodies to calm down, helps us to relax, lower cortisol, lower inflammation.

So again, breathing in through your nose, your belly is expanding. If it helps to put a hand on your belly, then go ahead and do that. And when you exhale, breathe out through purse slits. So it’s like you’re breathing out through a straw, blowing out birthday candles. This allows you to control the rate and the vole of your breath so that you can have a very long exhale.

Because that long exhale is going to help to, again, relax our body and give us access to those parts of our brain that will help with this vision planning exercise. Okay? So just take a few more deep breaths with me.

Remember, long exhale. So maybe breathing in for accounts of three and exhaling for a count of maybe seven or eight. Notice your shoulders lower. If you’ve been hunched up with your shoulders tight and your muscles tense, just allow that relaxation to come to your body and to your mind. Again, inhaling and exhaling.

And as you can see on this page, I’ll make it a little bigger. For those of you who are watching, I explained that in step one. Step one is relaxation. Take a deep breath by taking slow, deep breaths from your body. From your belly, which is diaphragmatic breathing, you’re activating your body’s or engaging your body’s vagus nerve and parasympathetic nervous system so that you can relax and use your brain’s frontal lobe.

Step 2: Brainspotting

Okay, the next thing that I want you to do is actually not on this sheet, but it’s a bonus for you. We’re going to engage our brainspot. So it’s the part of our brain that is directly associated and connected to that exciting part, that vision that we have for 2024.

So I want you to think about this year being your very best year yet. Or maybe you’re watching this on YouTube later and it’s 2027. Or 2037. Whatever the year is, imagine this being your best year yet. Imagine that. Notice what you feel in your body as you think about the excitement and the opportunity that a best year yet has to bring.

Then I want you to look over to your right, look straight ahead, but not at the video. Straight ahead of you. And then look over to your left. And where right, center left, did you look where you felt your body? More calm, more at ease, and more connected to that best year yet? That even better yet, was it to the left for you? Was it straight ahead to the right? Notice that. And that’s going to be your brain spot.

That’s where I want you to return to. As we’re doing steps two, three, and four in this exercise, go back to where you feel so connected to the vision for even better, the vision for joy, the vision for peace, the vision for managed and controlled health, whatever it is for you.

Okay? Go back to that place. Now we’re on step two. I want you to ask yourself, who not what do I want to do, but who do I want to be in this new year? So rather than focusing on your to-do list, we’re going to do something different.

Step 3: Setting Intentions

Write down the words or the phrases that describe who you want to be this year. Go ahead. Get out your pen and your paper or on the notes section on your phone. Me and my husband typically do this together each year. So we can go back and we have it in the notes so that we don’t lose a piece of paper, but write it in your journal or in your notes.

Who do you want to be? I want to be more patient. I want to be someone who’s hopeful. I want to be someone who is more kind to everyone, even that sibling who gets on my nerves. I want to be optimistic. I want to be “fill in the blank” and I implore you (I just picked up that new word from a colleague a couple of hours ago. I mean, I knew it, but, using it today) I implore you to not put who you don’t want to be, but use the affirmative who you do want to be.

So instead of saying, I want to be less critical, say, I want to be more kind, because, again, we’re activating and training our brain towards the behaviors and the activities that we want it to focus on. And so if we’re bringing up what I don’t want to do, then that is what your brain is going to focus on, even if you’re saying, I don’t want to do that.

So I do want to be more kind instead of more. I don’t want to be so cynical. I do want to be more optimistic. I do want to be more hopeful. So write those things down. I’ve been talking for, like, three or four minutes, so hopefully you have some of those things down.

Now: What are the characteristics that you want to embody now? Maybe you’re doing a little bit of it now. Maybe you want to do a little bit more. Maybe it’s so different than how you are. Maybe normally you are a glass half full kind of person, and that is what has been safe for you, and that is what has helped you to survive.

But in 2024, this new year, I want to be further along in my healing journey. I want to be a healed healer. I want to be more thankful, more gracious, show more gratitude. What is it? Want to have more faith? Writing down those characteristics. All right, we’re going to move on to step three.

Step 4: Value Statements

Now, I want you to write down value statements. Okay, so what are the things that you believe in, the things that are your values, the things that are important to you? Or maybe they’re not yet, but you want them to be important to you. And again, writing it in the affirmative, what you will do, not what you won’t do.

Okay, so write it in this format, and you’re going to write full sentences. Okay. I value x. Uh, therefore, I will y, for example. I value my health and my family. Therefore, I will limit my work time. I value sticking with health. I value my health, therefore I will choose the care team of medical providers that are supportive of me.

I value my peace. Therefore, I will be conscious and deliberate about who and what enters my space. I value my wellness, therefore, I will be compassionate with myself. I will be forgiving of myself. Write down those value statements. I’ll give you about a minute. Write down a few more.

I’m just going to open up the chat just in case there are some comments coming in. I’ll be able to monitor those along the way. Writing down those value statements, remembering to look back up at your brain spot if you’re out of ideas or if you’re starting to feel kind of pessimistic, if you’re starting to feel like what’s the point? Look back up at that brain spot, that best year yet, and access that. Take a deep breath and write down another characteristic that you will embody, another value statement.

Okay, next we have the last and the most important part. If I’m going too fast, please do go back and watch the recording. And as you’re watching the recording, you can pause while you write out even more value statements, while you write out even more characteristics that you will embody or while you just spend more time in your brain spot so that you can access more ideas and opportunities.

Step 5: Positive Affirmations 

Okay, we’re going to move on to step four. Next, I want you to transform your characteristics from step two and your values from step three into positive affirmations and your intentions for the year. The power of life and death are in the tongue. Therefore, it is so important to monitor how you speak to yourself, even if it’s just within your mind and how you speak to others.

It’s vital that you speak life onto yourself on a daily basis. You’re going to speak life over your health. You’re going to speak life over your circumstances, over your family, and over your finances. You’re going to speak life. And so, using the characteristics that you wrote down in number two, you’re going to add a preview to those: “I am” or “I have.” So if you wrote patience as one of those things, I have patience. Or if you wrote patient, I am patient. I am hopeful. I have optimism. Go ahead and write out each of those affirmations right now, just with those characteristics adding in the little tag in the beginning, I might have lost for words, but I am or I have.

Okay, next, take the I will statements that you already wrote down from the values in step three, and you’re going to turn that into intentions for the year. So previously you wrote, for example, let me just scroll back up. I value my health, therefore I will limit my work time.

Your intention is I will limit my work time. I will be forgiving and compassionate with myself. What are your wills? I will. These are the things I will do. That’s why I said write it in the affirmative, because these are your intentions. I will be selective about who and what enters my space.

Write down each of those things. And then these are the things now that you have it written down that I want you to repeat to yourself aloud every day. On the days when you do not have the strength or the willpower to repeat it out loud, I want you to look at it.

And so something that I recommend to my clients, I’m going to stop the share – something that I recommend to my clients often is to have it on post-it notes that you have it in places that are visible around your house, bathroom mirror on your refrigerator on the dash in your car, have these visible.

The beautiful thing about mirrors in your home is that you can actually use a dry erase marker and write down. And so when you have this affirmation, I am humble, I am thankful, and you feel like it’s really soaked in and you haven’t started to embody that characteristic. Then you can erase that dry erase with the dry erase marker, and you can write down the new affirmation that you need to start working on that you need to connect head and heart and allow to start to manifest and be true for you and something that you actually embody in your life in the way that you speak to yourself and others and in your relationships.

So, yeah, that was the quick and dirty if you have any questions, then of course you can reach out to me. You can reach out to Lupus LA for additional support. I have community. Maybe that was one of your affirmations. Community is available through Lupus LA. You can find me at drblied.com and also faces of health F-A-C-E-S Facesofhealth.net, where you learn more about the online courses and the app.