How to set goals during cancer

Clare Reed, our CBT for Cancer Therapist, joins us today with a post on the importance of living during cancer treatment – including the setting and achieving of goals.

Don’t let end of treatment be your goal – make life your goal

Imagine if you let life be your goal instead of the end of treatment. What would you be doing differently? What goals would you set for yourself?

I am going to give you an easy to use tool, that will help you decide on the goals that are achievable in your life right now.

The Goal Viability Tool

I want you to think about what goals you are putting on the long finger. Write them all down.

Now assess them for viability under these six headings:

1. Financial Viability – is it financially doable?

2. Timing Viability – is it the right time?

3. Health Viability – is your health good (apart from the Cancer)?

4. Energy Viability – have you got enough energy to achieve the goal?

5. Happiness forecast – how happy will attaining the goal make you feel?

6. Actions to take, if viable

Let’s take an example of how this can look:

Goal identified: Getting a new bathroom

1. Financial Viability

Surplus money is available

2. Timing Viability

Chemotherapy finished, half-way through radiotherapy, perfect time to schedule the plumber and decorator

3. Health Viability

Good health (aside from Cancer), doing fine through the treatment plan

4. Energy Viability

Ok energy – but I won’t be doing the renovations so I don’t need much. It will take me 1 trip to the DIY store to pick out the suite and tiles.

5. Happiness Forecast

I will be so happy to have a new bathroom to walk into every day, a fresh and clean environment

6. Actions to take

  • Book the plumber and decorator

  • Check the DIY store website and see what I like the look of. Visit the DIY store to see those items and order.

What if some goals are not viable right away?

Some of your goals may not be achievable right away, if that is the case, can you schedule them in for a later date? There may be some goals which are dependent on your health being improved, and that’s Ok. There is no need to feel down about some goals being non-viable. Instead reach a compromise. Change your health dependent goals for something that is doable in the circumstances.

For example, the goal might be some quality time with friends so a shopping trip to London at Christmas might be organised, but this may not be doable, particularly if you are close to the trip and just starting treatment and the trip is costing a lot of money up front. that may not be worth the risk. Why not organise a day out with your friends, closer to home with a shopping and spa day? Think outside the box and get creative with your goals.

There is no point getting stressed about whether you will be able to do something, or not, in 6 months’ time. Change the goal to something achievable but don’t move it.

How to Compromise on Goals

A client of mine was in this very position a few years ago. She and her husband normally booked their holiday at the start of the year. The month before she was diagnosed, in January, they had their hearts set on a trip to India. Planning was interrupted when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and was due to have chemotherapy, an operation and 15 radiotherapy sessions. This would take her through to mid August. The holiday to India was on the cards for October. It was a big financial outlay for them.

She decided it wasn’t viable not just for the cost and timing but the pressure she would put herself under to be well for the holiday just wasn’t worth it. They decided to postpone and replace the trip with two holidays. One holiday at the end of chemo, by boat, to Northern Spain. And the second holiday in October, but to a health retreat in Ireland, where she could recuperate with some rest and relaxation and her husband could play some golf. She wasn’t missing out. Instead she felt relieved and nurtured. I’m pleased to say they did go to India 2 years later and loved it!

So don’t let life pass you by start living by choosing your goals wisely and planning them. You will enjoy life more and have things to look forward to that make you happy. I would love to hear what goals you have planned for yourself. Me? Well I’m getting a new bathroom installed!

About Clare

Clare offers a life enhancing service in her CBT therapy to Cancer Patients both past and present and Carers. She was a Cancer Carer herself once, she is also a breast cancer survivor and understands both sides of the story really well.

Clare loves to help people get through their treatment journeys and out the other side with their sanity and relationships intact. She uses Cognitive Behaviour techniques to provide you with great coping mechanisms, plus coaching in communication skills and actions to help you be the person you want to be.

You can contact Clare for more information through her website All her therapy sessions are conducted by Skype which makes her therapy accessible wherever you are in the world.

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