7 tips for sticking to New Year goals

12 January 2017 | Annie Miller
Woman exercising

Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Here are our tips for making, and keeping, healthy new year resolutions.

1. Make it SMART

Set a SMART goal – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For instance ‘I will do a 30 minute walk three mornings a week on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, starting this Monday for the next month’. At the end of the month when you have achieved your goal, reward yourself with something worthwhile, such as a massage, or a movie date with a friend. Just as you set your resolution at the beginning of the year, also plan your reward. That way, when you are three weeks in and want to throw in the towel, you can remember that sweet reward is only a week away! When you have achieved your first SMART goal – then set a new one for the next month along with a new reward.

2. Set a performance goal

Setting a performance goal, and not a weight-loss goal, will help you stay motivated. For example, a goal to be able to touch your toes or do10 sit-ups each day. Keep in mind that in order for your body to move smoothly and freely, your joints need a range of motion – which is why flexibility is so important. Think of a performance goal that really motivates you, and enjoy the process as you strive for it.

3. Keep a diary

Keep a record of what activity you do and when you do it – and also a food diary. This will keep you focused on your goals and also on what you accomplish each day.

4. Find a buddy

Exercising with a friend allows for a little friendly competition and increases accountability. You can also support each other to achieve your goals. It’s always easier when you know someone is supporting you and waiting for you at the gym, or at your front gate to join you on your walk!

5. Pick a precise number

A very common New Year’s resolution is a weight loss goal. If this is your goal make sure it is realistic and give yourself a specific timeframe in which you want to reach your goal. There are a lot of things that go into changing our weight and it’s often not a simple calculation. People can get hung up on reducing calories by a very specific amount and not get the predicted weight-loss outcomes that they want. So create goals that you really think you can reach, like: ‘Today I will do my exercises and the next meal I eat will be made up from healthy food choices and the portions will be appropriate’. When setting weight loss goals be clear about the factors that you can control and factors that you can’t control.

Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Our Healthy Living after Cancer program offers free health coaching over the phone, with experienced health consultants. The program can help you get active, eat better and feel better, so that you can do more of the things that are important to you. The program is available to people over 18 who have completed cancer treatment. You’ll receive up to 12 health coaching calls over a period of six months from a Cancer Council Consultant.

6. Don’t stress about it

Move how it feels good for you to move every day. Don’t stress about it being an hour workout, but just be consistent. Even a short 5 or 10 minutes can set you up for feeling great so you can make healthy choices all day long. Keep positive and continue to develop a healthy you.

7. Find the fun

Focus on the joys of exercise and movement. Take pride in your new healthy self and in your body becoming stronger. Think about the boost of energy you get after exercising. Do set SMART goals, but keep them fun!


If you would like to join our Healthy Living after Cancer research project and find out more about a personalised diet and exercise program, call Cancer Council 13 11 20, or visit the Healthy Living After Cancer webpage