Sickle cell disease and setting goals

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A goal is something that is important to you and that you want to accomplish. You can set a goal for any part of your life, such as your general health, your activity, your social life, your school grades, your sleep and so on.

Key points

  • Effective goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART).
  • Setting a goal and making a plan will help you see your progress, understand what you can do when things don't work out and give you a better idea of how you can manage your symptoms.
  • When setting your goals, choose goals that are important to you and that are specific.
  • Make sure to follow through on the steps to reach your goals, but keep in mind that you may sometimes need to adjust your plan if you have a sickle cell pain flare.

As you work through the iCanCope with Sickle Cell Pain program, you will be asked to set a number of goals. It's important that these goals work for you.

Effective goals are SMART goals. This means they are:

  • specific (clearly defined)
  • measurable (you can measure when you've reached it)
  • achievable (possible to reach)
  • relevant (important to you)
  • time-bound (there is a deadline or an end date)

Why set goals?

When you set a goal, you make a plan for what you will do. This way, you take control of your activity instead of letting your sickle cell disease symptoms, like pain, control it.

Creating a plan will make it easier to see your progress, understand what to do when things don’t work out and help you get a better idea of how you can manage your sickle cell symptoms.

Set a plan and stick to it but be ready to change it if circumstances change. For instance, if you have a goal to walk for 30 minutes three times a week but get a sickle cell pain flare, you may need to change your plan or give yourself more time to accomplish it.

Goal setting and planning will help you learn about what you can do.

How to set goals

It takes practice to create successful goals and plan to achieve them. Follow the steps below to create some SMART goals to work towards.

Step 1: Start by asking, “What do I want to do?” and “What are my long-term goals?”

These goals can be simple and general, like:

  • “Improve my mood”
  • “Make more time for hanging out with friends”
  • “Catch up on homework”

Step 2: Break down your ultimate goals into something measurable.

  • Improving my mood: “Think about something that I am grateful for every night before bed.”
  • Hanging out with friends: “Visit a friend at least once this week.”
  • Homework: “Finish reading the science chapters by Friday.”

Great! Now you have your SMART goals in place.

Step 3: To help you start on your SMART goals, break them down into logical steps.

Let’s take the example, “Finish reading my science chapters by Friday.”

The steps on the way to achieving your goal might look something like this:

  • “Clear a spot in my room where I can sit down and read.”
  • “Read for five minutes at a time, completing 10 pages a day.”
  • “At the end of each chapter, go back and make sure I understand the main ideas.”

If you already read every day but avoid your math homework, setting a goal to read five times a week might not be very relevant. In this case, it might be more useful to set a goal to work on your math homework for 30 minutes each day before you do other more enjoyable activities.

Remember, the goals here are just suggestions. It’s important to choose goals that are important to you.

Your goals should also be specific. For example, "going to school more" is a general goal, but “spend at least four days a week in school" is more specific. Saying how often you’d like certain behaviours to happen makes the goal more precise and helps you keep track of your progress.

Several things can help you reach your goals.

  • Think about things that have stopped you achieving your goals before. Make a plan to remove any of these barriers. Get help if you need it.
  • Follow through! You are the one who needs to carry out the steps in your plan.
Last updated: November 6th 2023