A woman takes a selfie with a man outside.
Who do you want to be and what do you want to do in the future? Make a plan to get there. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Patients often come to me with several issues and questions, but sometimes it’s just one thing. There’s that one complaint that really needs to be addressed.

One of my patients, who I’ll call Jill, came to see me with her one thing: “I just don’t feel like myself.”

Jill was going through menopause, and she felt like she was turning into a different person—one she didn’t particularly like. She asked me to help her achieve the goal of feeling like herself again.

Fortunately, I had some answers that I was confident would help her feel better.

We started by talking about Jill’s Picture of Self and how we could use it to set some goals. I explained that her Picture of Self is her health goal—how she wants to be at a certain age or how she sees herself at a certain event in the future, such as her child’s graduation or her own retirement.

Picture of Self is an important component of menopause treatment, and each woman’s picture is unique.

One patient may struggle with the inevitable gray hair and wrinkles that come with age, while another person may become more annoyed with her mood changes and fluctuating hormones.

For Jill, it was that feeling of not acting like her usual self.

As a menopause practitioner, I have learned that goal setting is one of the most important things we can do to help us maneuver through menopause.

In order to set these goals, there are three essential questions you must first ask yourself:

  1. What is my Picture of Self now?
  2. What do I want my picture to be next month, next year?
  3. What do I want my picture to be five years from now?

By answering these questions, we can set individualized and incremental goals that can help us attain our final goals.

If you know what you’re working toward, you will stay focused on the outcome instead of finding excuses not to succeed. You can adjust your goals over time if you need to, especially if your Picture of Self changes for any reason. But setting small, measurable goals in the beginning will make your progress tangible and allow you to celebrate each success along the way.

For some women, working toward their picture may not mean becoming someone new. Instead, it may mean returning to the person they were before starting the menopause transition.

As Jill moves forward with her individualized plan to become the person that her family once again recognizes as their wife, mother, daughter and sister, she will keep her Picture of Self in focus.