Goal Setting

Ovarian Cancer Survivor Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller is a seven-time Olympic medalist in gymnastics. She is also a mother, an author, a dedicated health and wellness advocate, and an ovarian cancer survivor. An unexpected cancer diagnosis, and the treatment journey that followed, forced her to discover a new normal and has further fueled her passion of empowering and educating women around health and wellness. The following is a first-hand account from Shannon on the importance of goal setting.

Looking back on my own life experiences, I appreciate how setting goals has seen me through not only my athletic endeavors, but also through my experience with ovarian cancer.

As a professional gymnast, my coach encouraged me to set strategic goals for which I held myself accountable. I would write down one long term goal on an index card, and then break it down into smaller milestones to accomplish over time to achieve my main goal.

Taking small steps can help us achieve the goals that are unique to those of us facing ovarian cancer: living our best lives with cancer, emerging from disease or even facing recurrence with courage and strength.

Following my diagnosis, my goals changed drastically. Some days, my only goal was getting up and walking twice around my dining table. A goal does not always have to be big; it can start with setting smaller, easily attainable goals, such as getting up and getting dressed when you think you cannot, or walking your dog for ten minutes instead of the usual five minutes.

Achieving small goals can empower you when so much of life feels outside of your control.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to set goals that are not related to your diagnosis. You can pick up a new hobby or pursue an activity you never had time to try, such as drawing. If that is your dream, you should set your goal and pursue it.

I employ a simple process when setting personal goals:

  1. Write down your main goal.
  2. Think through smaller steps needed to accomplish that goal and record them beneath your primary goal.
  3. Find an accountability partner. It does not matter who this person is, it only matters that you trust them. They will motivate you to achieve your goals.
  4. Follow through! Make sure to take one small step every day that brings you closer to your ultimate goal. Ask yourself, “What positive decision can I make that will keep me on the right path to my ultimate goal?”

These principles of goal setting helped me a lot when I was facing ovarian cancer and I hope they might also work for you. If not, consider coming up with your own unique goal-achieving strategy.

Be positive but realistic. Be kind to yourself and advocate for yourself. Get the help you need to accomplish the goals that will see you through your ovarian cancer experience.

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Take that first step and take it today!