One day, as I listened to a life coach teach on the power of transformation, somebody asked him, “How can a person do all you’re talking about if they’re in constant physical pain?”

His response shocked me. He condescendingly said, “Just do it.” I was incensed by his insensitivity and lack of understanding—talk about adding insult to injury.

When you live in energy-sapping pain every day, you often do not have reserves to push through things and “just do it.” So how do you grow if “just doing it” is not an option?

I would love to give you three easy steps to make everything better so you can live the life of your dreams, but we both know that just is not possible. What I can offer you, though, is a few insider tips from someone who has lived with chronic pain for 17 years and has navigated the sometimes overwhelming and unsympathetic waters of the self-improvement industry.

Personal growth is about becoming our best selves so that we can contribute significantly to the lives of those in our spheres of influence. It is the intentional process of minimizing our weaknesses while developing our strengths and funneling them into use for a higher purpose.

Here are a few ideas on how to sustain personal growth when your body hurts a lot of the time.

Let Your Purpose Guide You

One of our greatest desires as humans is to know that we make a difference. When we are sidelined by pain, it is easy to start believing that we do not contribute anymore and do not have meaning.

But I want you to know that you are uniquely created to contribute to the world, in spite of—and because of—your special circumstances! You have a purpose. You can make a difference, no matter where you are in life and no matter what stands in your way.

When you grab hold of purpose in life and contribute to others, you naturally have more energy and are less focused on your pain. Developing a personal mission statement is a great way to clarify your purpose! It will help you make better decisions about how to spend your time and resources. My mission statement is “to inspire wholesome thinking.” I am able to do this in all areas of life, from conversations with friends, to my attitude toward physical therapy, and even my interactions with checkout clerks at the grocery store. A mission statement will empower you to infuse meaning into even mundane tasks, making your life much more fulfilling and rewarding.

If you are unsure of what makes you feel meaningful, try launching a PassionQuest. Spend two weeks watching for things in your life that you get excited and passionate about. What do you love to talk about? What stories do you tell? How do you contribute to others? What do you read? Your answers are good indicators of passion points. As you write all this down, looking for themes, you will soon have a strong idea of what to spend more of your time focusing on! This is not about squeezing more things into your already full schedule. It is a process of saying no more to some things and yes to others.

Set Yourself Up for Success

Growth and change rarely happen overnight. But that is often what we expect, is it not? Both with our health and our personal improvement. And then we get frustrated because we do not see it, so we short-circuit the process and quit. But resilience and personal growth are like muscles. They take training to build strength!

There are a few ways to end this cycle.

1. Set achievable expectations. It is important to set your expectations, taking into account your current health reality. Start out small, and work up! Success breeds success.
2. Adapt and alter methods. You are the best expert in what you need. When you embark on a path of growth, experiment with adapting and altering the methods to support your development. Self-improvement methods are not meant to be rigid. They provide structure and context but are flexible to move where you need them.
3. Track your progress. Chronic pain can make us foggy and forgetful. It can be hard to remember what we did yesterday, let alone the progress we have made over the last six months. Using an evidence journal to record your shifts in perspective and your personal triumphs will spur you on and keep you moving forward! I have a small journal that I record bullet point reflections in. This keeps it quick and easy to track my progress. In the mornings I write down five intentions I have for how I want to be or what I want to do that day. In the evening I write down at least five successes I had in attitude, mind-set, or action.

Reinvent Your Dreams

Your pain does not have to stop you! You can reinvent your dreams! I invite you to make a list of dreams and goals you have had in life.

Choose a few that leap out at you. As you do this, you might hear yourself saying things like “yeah right. Not anymore! I hurt too much to do that.” If that is true, I think you will get tremendous value from this exercise. Brainstorm creative ways that you could reinvent the dream so that you could still make it a reality. Ask for input from friends if you get stuck. For example, I used to love hiking, until my health problems turned any attempt at a hike into a painful nightmare. So I reinvented that dream—maintaining the essence, but adjusting the method. Now I enjoy the beauty of nature in a way that is conducive to my current health by going for short walks on flat paths in the woods, or sitting on the beach, or riding my bike leisurely through the park. Be committed to your dreams.

Be Gracious with Yourself

We are often our own worst critics! Try not to compare yourself to others. Just look at yourself. What do you want? Where did you start? How far have you come? What is your next step?

You do not need to force yourself to keep up or go to rigorous conferences if you are not up to it! Get the CDs or DVDs to listen to from the comfort of your own home. Teleclasses and online resources are another great way to learn!

Develop a Growth Team

Who in your life would support you and want to join you as you embark on a journey to become your best self? With a Growth Team, you can help each other learn new skills and research different methods and help each other master them. You can brainstorm when you face challenges and attend workshops together. The synergy of a great team has unstoppable potential! Make a list of potential team members, contact them this week, and see what transformations happen in your life with a supportive Growth Team!

Always keep in mind that you can be your best and make a difference in the world, even if your life is marked by pain. I invite you to embark on a journey to make the comeback of your life.

Do not let pain keep you from developing your full potential!

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit

Author's Bio: 

Joanna Wasmuth is an expert in the day-to-day impact of chronic pain, having lived with fibromyalgia for 17 years. But she is a thriver and now specializes in empowering achievers with chronic pain to make the comeback of their lives. She is a certified dream coach®, speaker, and author, and she created the LifeThr!ve Personal Coaching Series for People with Chronic Pain. Prior to founding Harmony Coaching Group, she was an award-winning marketing and design consultant for more than 10 years. She is sought after for her innovative and creative solutions that get results. You can contact Joanna at or at