Making changes & goal setting

Making changes can be hard. Is there an area of your life that you would like to change?

Ever tried to break an unhealthy habit such as smoking? Or attempted to start a new and healthy routine – like a morning walk or jog? Many of us attempt to change, make some progress but end up in the same spot we started in. In this section, we give you a few ideas that can help you to make that change.

Talking about change – what's important?

Whether talking about helping another person to make a change or thinking about making changes yourself – there are questions that you can ask that will help identify why making a change is the right thing to do. Finding out what’s important to you is the first step and helps you keep motivated. 


Find out what others have said and write down what’s important to you here.

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Is something getting in the way or stopping you from making a change?

Lots of things can make it harder or get in the way of making changes. It’s important to identify these things early on and work out a way of dealing with them. This will help you be successful in making the changes that are important to you. 


Identify the things that are stopping you here.

What can you do about the things that are stopping you?

Now that you have identified the things that are stopping you choose two or three that you would like to work on. Choose the things that are stopping you doing what’s important to you. Think of some things that you can do to make things better and write them down here.


Having difficulty working out what to do? Try problem-solving

Unsure about making changes?

Making changes can be hard, and to be successful you have to be confident that you are making the right change, for the right reasons. 

Now that you have identified what’s important to you and what you can do to about some of the things that are getting in the way; it’s time to think about how you feel about making changes. 


Think about:

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(Source: Heart Foundation: Taking Control)

Try talking about it with a friend or family member. You can also use this handout to write down your thoughts.


Having difficulty working out what to do? Try problem-solving

What makes a difference?

Decided to make a change? Whether it’s related to your health, wealth or happiness there are common factors which have been shown to increase success:

  • Set a goal that is really important to you and write it down.

  • Plan how you are going to achieve the goal.

  • Get support from those around you.

  • Learn techniques that help you to overcome challenges and build your confidence.

Set a goal & make a plan

Goal setting is one of the best ways to help you make changes. It is a good skill to learn and can be used in many areas of your life, not just when thinking about your health and wellness.


When setting a goal and making an action plan, it’s important to choose something that you want to do. Make it easy on yourself and build up slowly. People who set small and realistic goals are more likely to achieve them and make long-term changes. Try SMARTER goal setting – see below.

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SMARTER goal setting

S - Specific

What am I going to do? (What, when, where, how)?

M – Measurable

How will I know when I have got there?

A – Achievable  

Is this something I can do? Is it in my control? What will I need?

R – Realistic    

Am I being realistic? What are the likely problems?

T – Time-bound

Do I have the time to do this?

E – Enjoyable & evaluate

Is this something I want to do? If not, it's much harder to keep at it. 

What worked, what didn’t? What can I do differently next week to make it easier or help me succeed? 

R – Record & reward

Writing your goal down and placing it somewhere where you will see it often can help to keep you on track. Adding in rewards also helps!

People who just think about their goals tend not to achieve them. Studies have shown that people are more likely to achieve their goals when they:

  • Write them down.

  • Develop an action plan.

  • Share their plan and progress with a friend or someone close to them.


Try using this goal sheet 


There are also many goal setting and action planning apps and online tools for you to choose from.

Build a support team

Did you know?
People who are most successful at achieving change usually have support from others (friends and whanau). When you have decided on your goal – think about who you need to talk to and who can support you.

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Who is my support team?
You are the most important person in looking after your health. However, it really helps to have support from those around you – your very own ‘health support team’.


To get the most out of your support team, it is helpful if you understand the role each person plays and how they can work together. Write them down here.


There are also other tools: such as online blog sites and social network sites where you can share ideas with others who have been through the same issues as you. Try a few from the resources section below.

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