Being Well

Cancer Survivor’s New Year’s Resolution: How to Make It Count

Replacing a resolution with a life goal can transform your survivorship years. Try these tips for cancer survivor's new year's resolution inspiration.

With a new year beginning, as a cancer survivor, you may find yourself feeling less eager to make plans. Even being diagnosed as cancer free can leave you anxious, wondering if it may return. This January 1, your cancer survivor’s New Year’s resolution may look different than your friend’s pledge to lose weight or finally try Whole 30. Your resolution can be one of meaningful change and hope as you look to the future.

A cancer survivor’s New Year’s resolution is an important part of recovery. According to a review published in Psycho-Oncology, cancer affects the life goals of patients, which can lead to poorer psychological outcomes for patients. Setting new life goals and achieving those, however, can lead to a higher purpose in life and even decreased depression or anxiety.

Getting Started

As you consider your new life goals, take your current situation into account. If you’re newly coming off treatment or procedures, your body may be unable to take that cross-country trip or hike this year. Adapt your goals to suit your physical and emotional state; that way, you’re more likely to achieve those aspirations. If you aren’t sure where your limitations may be in the next 12 months, talk it over with your oncologist or counselor.

Ideas for Your New Life Goals

Many people enter into resolution-setting thinking the more resolutions they have, the better. However, too many goals can be overwhelming and cause you to lose interest come mid-February. Try setting one life goal that can be applied throughout the next 12 months.

A popular trend has been to choose a word for the year instead of a goal, as that word can be applied to many facets of life and used as a mantra for the year. For example, a word like “celebrate” could encourage you to relish the small victories you see in your recovery daily, as well as encourage you to connect with friends and family for celebrations throughout the year. A word like “intention” could inspire you to focus on eating well to feed your body with love, as well as spur you on to join that yoga or meditation class you’ve always wanted to take.

If a single word doesn’t inspire you, consider writing a more traditional goal. Choosing to invest in your physical health by eating well or going vegetarian, or in your mental health by going to your counseling appointments and giving back to the cancer community, can be life changing for the year ahead. Your life goal for 2018 is yours alone, and you should take time to talk or journal about it before you finally decide on the goal that will guide you this upcoming year.

When the clock strikes midnight, don’t be afraid to make plans and try new things. You will build new experiences, make new connections, and help your body be as healthy as possible when you set long-term life goals for yourself. Your whole team is cheering you on and wishing you a healthy new year!

If you're looking for a way to give back to the cancer community in the new year, consider contributing to the UVA Health Foundation.

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Haley Burress
Haley Burress