Saturday, 9 September 2017

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Goals

'I'm planning to swim the English Channel.'

Goals was the topic of our weekly discussion - our desires and initiatives and how we go about achieving them.

When we are diagnosed with cancer, our goal becomes about survival. We want to live. An outcome that feels highly uncertain in the face of our fears. For women with secondary breast cancer, part of the psychological challenge is coming to terms with an incurable disease and survival becomes about the here-and-now. Naz explained that these anxieties form one of the biggest contributors to depression - because of this fear in the 'bigger picture', the 'process' of attaining this ‘huge’ outcome can receive little attention, and the building blocks or pathways by which the process can shape are usually difficult to identify.

When we set ourselves goals, we can open up a vast desire for living in the now, and doing what we usually postponed to tomorrow. Do we ever make a list of things we want to do, or do we question whether we can do them given the uncertainty we face?

As a group, our goals were both small and ambitious, varied and unique, reflecting our individual personalities and values, but here are a few examples: Move house. Change my job. Read Anna Karenina. Sing. Learn to ride a horse. Swim. Do one thing that scares me. Lose weight. Dance. Write a novel. Learn to say 'no'. Get through the day without breaking. Swim the English Channel.

Many of us described wanting to live to see our children achieve independence, support them, teach them, love them. Setting long-term goals was something many of us found a challenge - we felt we might 'tempt fate' to take our hopes and dreams away from us. Some of us identified setting goals as a source of energy and inspiration. Others described drifting without goals or giving up goals that no longer reflected who they were, or because they realised that they  reflected the expectations of others. Many of us were re-evaluating what was important to us, making changes to our lives to reflect our changed values and were as yet unsure of the path ahead.

Naz described the process of setting small steps towards achieving our outcome, for example, doing small things to live well and to enjoy our moments. It can feel as though cancer robs us of many of the opportunities we had prior to being diagnosed with breast cancer, but boundaries are relative and we can still set ambitions within our limits. We may even find we exceed them! Re-prioritising is hard and if we can't achieve our goals, we feel disappointed, but our joy and reward from what we can do is limitless.

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