Goal setting in cancer

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Why should I set goals for managing cancer?

Before you learn new ways to manage your cancer, it is important to set some goals for yourself to help keep you on track. Each person may have different goals for what they would like to see happen with their cancer treatment or other aspects of their life, such as school or sports.

A goal is something that is important to you, that you want to have happen or want to accomplish. Here are some examples of common goals for people with cancer.

  • Cope with how my cancer makes me feel (nausea, pain or tiredness)
  • Spend more time with my friends and forget I have cancer for a bit
  • Go back to school or keep up with my school work
  • Go to my school graduation or dance
  • Do the things I like to do and to not let my cancer get in the way
  • Talk to other teens with cancer who understand how I feel

Keep goals realistic to keep you motivated! They should be something you can achieve. Setting unrealistic goals can be frustrating when you realize you cannot meet them. For example, taking part in this program will not make your cancer completely go away; this is an unrealistic goal. See the pointers below for help on setting goals and making them realistic.

Getting started with goal setting

An easy way to create goals is to follow the SMART method. Each letter stands for a key element in creating achievable goals. Here’s how it works:

  • S: Make your goal(s) specific. You have a greater chance of achieving a specific goal than a general one.
  • M: Make the goal(s) measurable. You’ll only know if you’re on track to achieving your goal if you can measure your progress. To know if your goal is measurable, ask questions like "How many?," "How much?", or "How often?"
  • A: Make it achievable. Start with a small goal and then build on it. This will help increase your chances of sticking with the goal. You can achieve almost any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and give yourself enough time to carry out those steps.
  • R: Make the goal realistic for your lifestyle. Goals should be possible or realistic, but also should push you. For example, going wilderness camping might be unrealistic especially when you are on chemotherapy. However, going on a picnic with your friends might be more realistic.
  • T: Make a time frame. This sets a deadline for when you hope to achieve your goal. By having a date to work towards, you will be more likely to put effort into achieving your goals.

You can use "My Journal" on this web-site to help keep track of the times you achieve your goals. This way you can really see your progress. Don’t forget to reward yourself for achieving your goals as you go along, no matter how small they are!

Here is an example of a SMART goal.

I will use distraction three times a week to reduce my morning nausea. I hope to achieve this goal in the next month. If I can manage this and it is helpful, I will then increase it to four times a week.

As you can see, this goal is one specific goal. You can measure it because you can keep track of how many days a week you use distraction. It starts small and then builds from three days to four days a week. It is hopefully a realistic goal for your schedule, and there is a time-frame of one month to try to have this goal become a part of your life.

What are your goals for managing your cancer?

Think about what you are hoping to get out of this treatment program.

Try to think of three goals that you would like to work towards to better manage your cancer during this program.

Are your goals SMART goals?!

Last updated: September 22nd 2018