Set a goal and make a plan
Whakatauhia he whāinga ka whakatakoto mahere

Sometimes, even though we know where we want to make change in our lives, coming up with a plan for getting there and sticking to it can be hard.

Check out the guidelines below for problem solving, setting goals and action planning and hear from others about their journeys in changing their health.

Identifying the problem

Over the next week take the time to solve a problem you are facing.

  • Write it down
  • Brainstorm your options. How can you deal with this problem? Write down all possibilities - good and not so good.
  • Write down the ADVANTAGES and DISADVANTAGES of each option.
  • Identify the BEST option(s) to deal with the problem.
  • List the STEPS needed to carry out a solution. Consider the resources required and potential setbacks.
  • If it is a problem you are facing with someone else — a parenting problem, or a work project problem — then try and work through this process with the other people involved. Together you may think of greater range of options and you will be able to share this skill.
  • Review your progress in carrying out your chosen solution. What have you achieved? What still needs to be done?

Set some goals

Setting goals allows us to really consider what we want to achieve. When something seems overwhelming it is useful to break it down into smaller chunks and develop a plan for achieving these.  You may have heard of the term SMART goals  - these are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

SMART goals

Setting SMART goals may take some time, but the advantage of doing it properly and thoroughly is that it leads to a defined action/outcome.

Once you have set your goals work out your plan for achieving these by prioritising and problem solving.

Planning for change

We can have the best intentions to change our behaviour but without careful planning, we know that people often don’t tend to actually make changes, or at least don’t maintain changes for very long. This is why New Year’s resolutions so often don’t stick, even though we are motivated and set SMART goals.

Effective planning for behaviour change can be broken into two steps.

  1. Action Planning – Deciding when, where, and how you will make a change.
  2. Coping Planning – Anticipating what barriers will stop you from making and sustaining that change. Then putting in place strategies to get over those barriers.

Action plan

These are the steps you are going to take to reach your goals. What do you want to achieve?

Priority areas for focus My Actions Who might I ask for help











Make sure your actions lead to specific and measurable outcomes (your goals)

Action plan  
What new habit do you want to develop? I will…
Coping plan  
What barriers might you face? If they occur, what will you do about them? If…                           I will…

Coping plan

Staying on track. Sometimes we start with good intentions but things get in the way. It’s a good idea to think about what some of these ‘derailers’ might be, and what you can do about them.

What barriers might you face? If they occur, what will you do about them?

If . . . I will . . . Looking after yourself.


Action plan

I will run to and from work, instead of driving, three times a week.

Coping plan

Obstacle 1: Poor weather - I will get some cold/wet weather running gear.

Obstacle 2: Injury - I will seek and follow professional advice to recover as fast as possible. 

Obstacle 3: Time - I will prepare lunch the night before.