In my last blog post, I explored the importance of discovering your why, embracing accountability, setting SMART goals, and having grace when it comes to goal-setting in a chaotic season of life. Throughout my most difficult years after the diagnosis of my BRCA1 genetic mutation and mastectomy, I’ve discovered that simplicity is the key to achieving goals successfully. In this blog post, I will share with you some simple and practical goal ideas that worked for me as I navigated my own well-being in this previvorship journey.
“Keep It Simple, Silly” or KISS, is a simple acronym I like to remember when I start to feel overwhelmed. Most people’s New Year’s goals revolve around physical health, eating habits, and weight loss, according to research. For someone living with a genetic mutation, getting active cancer treatment, or living in cancer survivorship, goals may be similar or they may be more related to upcoming treatments, managing side effects, optimizing energy, or simply surviving!
Here are a few very simple goal ideas from a lifestyle medicine perspective that are sure to leave you feeling better.
- Add more movement. If you want to move more, start with something achievable, like taking a 10-minute walk three times a week. This will set you up for success and help prevent burnout or setbacks, especially if you are fresh out of surgery or actively undergoing treatment.
- Eat mindfully. If you want to incorporate more whole plant foods into your diet, try committing to “Meatless Mondays” or one meatless meal a day for five days out of the week. Or choose to snack smarter by replacing prepackaged, processed snacks with whole fruits, nuts, or seeds a few days a week.
- Drink more water. Hydration is important for everyone. Even more so for those dealing with a chronic illness or undergoing treatment. Try setting a goal to drink X glasses of water per day, or swap out sugary drinks for water. If you typically drink alcohol, consider exploring some fun mocktail recipes to swap out instead.
- Get outside. Being outside is good for both the body and the soul. Getting some early morning sun can be a great way to boost your mood, immune function, and even improve your sleep at night, per Stanford Lifestyle Medicine. You can take a 10-minute walk or just sit out on your porch and enjoy the sunshine!
- Embrace social connection. This can be hard when you are dealing with a health challenge since you can’t always do your normal activities or attend social gatherings. Make an effort to connect with family or friends. It can be as simple as a weekly video chat or as fun as a weekly game night. You can also challenge yourself to reach out to someone new or join a support group to meet others on a similar journey who may “get you” in a way your inner circle can’t right now.
- Protect your mental and emotional health. Sometimes the best thing you can do is have more grace for yourself and all you are going through. Genetic mutations and cancer can bring on a lot of fear, worry, and stress. What I’ve learnt is that gratitude serves as the best antidote for fear, and you can’t experience both emotions at the same time. After my surgeries in 2020, one of my goals was to simply write down three things I was grateful for each night. This brought me back to the present moment to reflect on the good in my life, which brought me a sense of peace before bed.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. You can get as creative as you’d like, and you don’t have to do everything at once or do it perfectly. Just focus on what is important to you and take it one step at a time.
Navigating a new diagnosis of a genetic mutation or a cancer diagnosis is challenging. Sometimes the best goal you can set for yourself is no goal at all because you already have more than enough on your plate. You are enough just as you are right now, in this moment. Check in with yourself often and celebrate your small victories along the way. You got this, friend!