Reaching Your Goal

We are almost half way through November – National Novel Writing Month. Have you been writing frantically? Or has life dropped boulders all over the road, tripping you up and slowing you down?

Let’s talk about goals. I have writing goals, but they fall second on my list. My #1 goal is to get my life back. My old life was taken from me in April 2011 when the “you have cancer” bomb blew up in my face. Major surgery to remove all my girlie parts (that’s what they do with ovarian cancer), fifteen months of chemo, and lots of teal t-shirts later – I have beaten it.

Yes, victory is wonderful, but even with victory there is collateral damage. I gained 40 pounds from all the steroids I took to keep my body from freaking out while being poisoned by chemo. One of the chemo agents was a neurotoxin, so I have total body nerve damage and inflammation. I went from running with my dog everyday to hardly being able to walk. Each step hurts like someone has beaten my feet with a baseball bat. Some nights I wake several times because the pain, from regenerating nerves, aches so badly in my teeth, legs and shoulders that I can’t sleep.

Make sure your goals are really important. My #1 goal is to reclaim my healthy body. It is something I don’t just want to do, I must do it. I can’t be the mom I was to my three young kids without it or the woman my husband fell in love with. I can’t be a helpful daughter or a drop-everything-when-you-need-me friend. And I totally suck at dealing with constant pain. So I must reach my goal.

Each morning I wake knowing there will be pain. So I’m prepared. I keep special slippers by my bed so I can step right into them. I still end up wobbling to the bathroom like I’m walking on hot coals, but they help. I lay my work out clothes out the night before so I just put them on. If I had to walk back across my room to find them, I might not do it. I get ready before the kids get up so I have some time alone while I work the worst out of my shoulders and legs.

 I have a routine. Yoga. I both love and hate yoga. It hurts – enough said. But when I get through the slow stretching movements, amazingly I feel better.

 I have a back-up plan. Once the kids are off to school, I walk the dog unless my feet hurt too much and then I ride a stationary bike. When you have a back-up plan it is easier to stay on track.

 Accountability. Twice a week, on set days, my friend helps me work out with weights to build up my muscles and strength. Having a partner, who knows your goal and is willing to help you reach it, is golden. We are also friends on a calorie/food tracking free app (My Fitness Pal) so we can e-mail each other encouragement.

 I learn and read to stay on track. There are tons of people out there who know more than I do about maintaining an über healthy lifestyle. So I read what they have to say, and I try some of it. Yes, I’m a juicer. I juice kale and fruit almost every day (and I drink it : ). I’ve brought toxin neutralizing plants in the house and managed to keep them alive. I avoid nitrates, tephlon, and pesticides like they could kill me (because they could!). I do everything I can NOT to invite cancer back into my cancer-prone body.

I do even when I don’t feel like it. That would be the discipline part. I don’t feel like getting out of bed every single day because it hurts every single day. I don’t feel like starting the yoga DVD and I don’t feel like juicing the whole veggie aisle at Whole Foods all the time. But I do anyway. When you have a goal that you really, truly want to reach, you must follow your plan even when you don’t want to. You put on your big girl panties and just do it.

I reward baby steps. I’ve lost twenty of the forty pounds I gained and my strength has improved. That there is reward in itself! My pain is still here – damn blasted nerves! But at least I’ve taken twenty pounds off my poor feet.

I also take time out of my busy day to enjoy life. If I do my routines and eat well, I reward myself with a hot bath or some dark chocolate (which is also healthy for you BTW). Today I took the dog and kids to walk under the autumn foliage at a park. I LOVE doing that but never have the time. So today, I stole the time. Yes, I got less writing done, but that comes second on my goal list.


1. Okay, what are your goals? Write them down or know them by heart. Make sure it is something you REALLY want to accomplish.
2. What is your plan for reaching your goal? Be prepared, have a routine, learn how others have reached the same goal.
3. How can you measure your progress? Is it pounds, inches, words written, bulbs planted, grades?
4. Do you have a back-up plan and a partner to help you maintain discipline?
5. How will you celebrate as you reach each wrung on your ladder to success? Don’t forget this part or you won’t last to the end. Every good manager knows, if you want people to push the limit and reach a goal, you’ve got to pat them on the back on the way there. Praise and celebration is good for the soul and the goal : )

Reaching a goal requires determination and discipline. Beating and recovering from cancer teaches you both, although I truly can’t recommend it. A less painful way to learn to reach your goal is to follow the above steps. Just put one foot in front of the other and climb, and I will definitely see you at the summit! I’ll bring the celebratory chocolate (and kale juice)! Hugs! Heather

18 responses to “Reaching Your Goal”

  1. I’m so glad you’re cancer-free! My goals aren’t nearly as all-consumingly, immediately code red top priority as yours, but I do have them. Lose weight. Lots of it. Clean house and keep it orderly. Get my art and writing businesses up and running at much greater speed (and efficiency) than they are now.

    I listen to Tony Robbins tapes as often as I can. He’s all about The Goal and getting yourself to take small steps to reach it—and to enjoy it while you do. (We all know it’s the journey and not the actual goal that’s important, right?) Then there’s “The Four-Day Win,” which teaches us that those small, attainable steps should be accomplished in four-day blocks, after which we take another step.

    Just this morning I was looking around my great room and said, “By Jan. 1, this all will be clear, clean and organized!” Then I thought: “That’s less than 2 months away. Can this be done? AND keep up my writing/painting schedule?” But if I don’t do it, I can’t use the Total Gym (part of weight goal, see above), which is buried under piles of old Mad magazines that need to be sold. (Once I clear/clean/organize the guest bedroom, the Total Gym and treadmill move back there. I’ll have a real living room again!)

    I have no partner except Tony R. It does make things much tougher. (sigh)


    • Great goals, Carol! And yes, sometimes goals feed into other goals, like a domino effect. Have you ever checked out She’s WONDERFUL. She helps you get your house and life organized without making it sound difficult. Baby steps, she says. She always makes me feel like I can get things under control with just a little work each day. Check her out.

      I’ll see you at the summit : ) January 1st!


  2. Laurie Kellogg says:

    Wonderful post, Heather. And, yeah, it helped highlight what a cry-baby I would be to complain about any of the minor roadblocks preventing me from reaching my piddly goals. Thanks for the reality check. I’m so relieved and happy you’re making a comeback. Ruby heel-clicks for your continued progress! Hugs.


    • Thanks, Laurie! Hey – I’m a cry baby. I just keep doing after I’ve blown my nose. What else can I do? I love Winston Churchill’s quote “When you’re going through Hell, KEEP GOING!”


  3. Awesome post, Heather. First, “ouch” and hugs on the daily pain. I’ve often thought living with chronic conditions/pain takes such a tough mental attitude and you clearly have it. Second, “congratulations!” on the weight loss- phenomenal!

    I’m a big proponent of goals & managing them with To-Do lists- daily, weekly, yearly – whatever gets you there. I’ve started keeping weekly goals listed at the top of my planner, which reminds me that goals can change week to week and gives me some flexibility. There are 5 categories: Writing, Reading, Health, House, and Other – not always in that order. 🙂 My top goals are exercising four times a week with the hope of losing 15 pounds, writing 10-15k words a week, reading 1 book a week, and choosing one (manageable) household project a week. Right now, that’s preparing to house and feed 12 people for the entire Thanksgiving week. 🙂 Of course, things always pop up (especially with kids prone to getting sick this time of year), so flexibility is key for me.

    Stay motivated, sister – you’re doing fabulous!


    • Wow – you’re amazing! 10-15K a week! My editor would LOVE you. Writing out weekly goals is fabulous. I think I need to do that more often.
      About the tough mental condition – not so much. The pain comes in waves and I just try to relax when it ebbs and ignore it as best I can when it clangs for attention. You just do what you have to do. But I do think it’s helped me learn to appreciate things that don’t hurt so much more and to hold onto what is positive surrounding me.

      Hugs! Heather


  4. Tamara Hogan says:

    Heather, my sister! /high five/ I’m all about routine, too. Routine is not a dirty word to me; it’s how the important stuff gets done when you’re not quite sure how much energy you’re going to have, or how you’re going to feel, on any particular day.

    There’s nothing like not having your health to bring what’s important into very sharp focus, is there.


    • In many ways I’m lucky. I don’t have a choice but to pour all my focus into getting well. The alternative is unthinkable and the reward is utter relief. Talk about putting a carrot infront of my nose!!

      Hugs to you, Sis!


  5. Gwyn says:

    God bless you, doll. Another timely post that also adds a bit of perspective. Still praying for you, btw, and encouraged by your determination and drive. Keep fighting, Sis. You’re an inspiration.


  6. Rita Henuber says:

    Goals are many for me from daily to yearly and of late I’ve been ignoring them. Been attacked by too many flying monkeys. Anyhow. I find making secondary goals is important. Like- 1) I’m going to win the lottery this year. 2) buy lottery tickets.
    I’m with ya on the eliminating food loaded chemicals. Geeze. It seems as we learn more and do what we can to eliminate them, food processors add more.


    • You’re so right, Rita. The steps needed to reach your ultimate goal must be taken, and setting them up as secondary goals is just perfect.
      I love your visual of flying monkeys! They swoop in on my all the time. I need a big flying monkey swatter! I’ll put it on my Christmas list : )

      Hugs, Heather


  7. Jenny O'Brien says:

    Wow! That is such a motivating post… It makes me want to bite my tongue for all the silly excuses I have for not exercising and not meeting my goals. Thanks for sharing. I am determined to do better.


  8. June Love says:

    Oh, Heather, hugs on the daily pain. You inspire me in so many ways. I know I’ve said it repeatedly, but each time I say it, my admiration for you rises to yet another level.

    I used to be organized. I used to and still do crave routine. And, I used to be the queen of daily To Do Lists. In fact, I would get up early in the mornings just to have time to organize my To Do List while drinking a cup of coffee.

    My goal is to find a new routine and slip into it. My life has changed, and I finally realized I can’t keep trying to force my new situation into my old routine. While I think I knew that, your post just drove the realization home. Thank you, thank you, thank you!


  9. Jenn! says:

    Great post, Heather!
    My main drive in reaching goals is being held accountable. Nothing like unforgiving friends to make sure you go all the way.

    Extremely happy for your continued progress, Ruby sis. You are that spark of inspiration!



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