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Many people with a long term condition will stop doing a range of activities that they used to do, sometimes without even realising it. These can include day to day activities such as completing housework, shopping and looking after the children to hobbies and interests such as gardening, going for a walk, seeing friends and watching films. Often other members of the house may take over roles and responsibilities and this can make you feel frustrated and worthless.

Setting goals can help you to take back responsibility for some of these tasks while accepting that there may be some things you can’t do.

Goals are often focused on things we want to achieve and things we enjoy. For example you may want to achieve more things around the house. This may be because it gives you a feeling of worth, a valued role, purpose and increases confidence rather than because you particularly enjoy cleaning the house. Other goals maybe concerned with returning to an activity that you find enjoyable such as playing an instrument. These goals can be highly motivational and provide a sense of achievement and a boost in confidence.

The most important step in self-management is to decide what you want to achieve. This can also be the most difficult step.  

Goals need to be
Questions to help set goals

The goal needs to be realistic and specific so it is clear to see when it has been achieved. The goal needs to be something that is meaningful to you as this will make you more motivated to achieve it. Goals can be both short and long term but should give a time frame from the beginning so you have something to aim for. It isn’t always easy to identify a goal which is important to us and achievable but with practice it does get easier.

Goals which are clear, definitely stated and slightly challenging lead to better results than goals which are vague and easy - Remember easy goals are easy to ignore

A good process to follow for setting goals is SMART:

S: Specific - goals should be specific and answer questions such as What? How? Where?

M: Measurable - think about how you will measure your goal, this will make it clear when it has been achieved and provide you with feedback

A: Attainable - goals should push you but it is important that they are achievable

R: Relevant - consider whether the goal is relevant to your day to day life and self-managing your condition

T: Timely -consider a timeframe. This will help you stay motivated. 

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The goal needs to be realistic and specific so it is clear to see when it has been achieved. The goal needs to be something that is meaningful to you as this will make you more motivated to achieve it. Goals can be both short and long term but should give a time frame from the beginning so you have something to aim for. It isn’t always easy to identify a goal which is important to us and achievable but with practice it does get easier.

Goals which are clear, definitely stated and slightly challenging lead to better results than goals which are vague and easy.

 REMEMBER- Easy goals are easy to ignore

A good process to follow for setting goals is SMART:

S: Specific - goals should be specific and answer questions such as what? how? where?

M: Measurable - think about how you will measure your goal, this will make it clear when it has been achieved and provide you with feedback

A: Attainable - goals should push you but it is important that they are achievable

R: Relevant - consider whether the goal is relevant to your day to day life and self-managing your condition

T: Timely -consider a timeframe. This will help you stay motivated. 

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Action Plan Questions

Once you have completed your action plan you need to ensure you keep track of your results. It is common for action plans to not work first time round and if this is the case you need to make changes and problem solve solutions. The important thing is not to give up.

Reward yourself when you do achieve your action plan, this could be something as simple as having a luxurious soak in the bath or watching your favourite film.

Remember:

  • Think about what you can do already and take small steps
  • Give yourself some time off, rest and relaxation are important
  • Make sure your action plan is realistic and achievable
  • Write down your action plan and refer to it regularly


This process of goal setting and action planning is a very effective tool to use for self-management as it helps to maintain focus and motivation. Why not try setting simple and achievable goals for the different areas of self management that apply to you and you have an interest in. 

Goal Setting Sheet


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Problem Solving Cycle

We frequently spend time looking to find solutions to the problems and difficulties we experience in managing life with a health condition.  We might do this while working to identify and set a goal or perhaps during follow-up, when we have looked at some of the challenges we met as we worked on our goals. We might also consider using others in the group, family or friends as a resource to help us do this.

Many of us are already good problem solvers - in the past we have regularly used our problem solving skills in our work and home lives. Problem-solving is a helpful self-management skill and allows us to use our skills and techniques to best effect.

The first step is to identify the real problem - it may seem like an obvious step but it is not always as simple as it sounds. Sometimes we might identify the wrong source of the problem and this will divert our efforts and energy in the wrong direction.

You may need to spend time exploring the problem, to find out when or why it happens. Then come up with as many solutions as you can; the best problem-solvers come up with the most ideas not necessarily the best ideas. Sometimes it can help to write the ideas down before you decide on one to try out.

Next, you need to try out your idea. If your idea works, the problem is solved, but if it doesn’t you can go back to the list, pick another idea and try that one out. If the problem hasn’t been solved and you have used up all the ideas on your list, you could ask other people for their ideas; it is surprising just how many different ideas there can be to solve one problem.

If the problem isn’t solvable at the moment then we may need to accept this - or it might help to go back to the first step, re-explore the problem and make sure we were trying to solve the real problem in the first place.

Problem-solving can be used at any time, but it is especially useful when working towards goals. It may be that there are barriers to our success. Sometimes the barriers come from other people or external sources and sometimes the barriers come from within us. By identifying and exploring the problem and suggesting solutions we will begin to feel more confident in our journey to optimal self-management. 

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