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HealthInfo Aoraki South Canterbury

Goal setting after an illness

Whakatū whāinga ā muri i te māuiuitanga

After you've been unwell or spent time in hospital, your physical ability and confidence can take a knock.

Rehabilitation aims to restore you to your greatest possible independence. Rehabilitation can happen in hospital and then continue in the community with the support of community teams.

You need to decide what you want to achieve from your rehabilitation. You should set goals that are important to you. People who set goals generally do better in their rehabilitation than people who do not set goals. See below for some goal setting ideas.

While you're in hospital, the hospital team will discuss your goals with you and your whānau (family). They will also set a review date for your goals.

Setting goals

Your goals may include:

Physical rehabilitation

  • Regaining movement or strength.
  • Walking without help.
  • Losing or gaining weight.
  • Stopping smoking.
  • Getting to the toilet without help.

Family and household

  • Doing housework.
  • Seeing whānau.
  • Cooking.
  • Gardening.
  • Paying bills.
  • Using the phone.

Social and recreational

  • Taking part in club activities.
  • Playing music.
  • Going to rugby games.
  • Knitting.
  • Travelling.
  • Playing cards.

Work related

  • Returning to work.
  • Completing study.
  • Writing.
  • Using a computer.
  • Using specific tools.
  • Driving.


  • Being able to live, shower or dress independently.


Choose measurable goals

Be definite about what you want to achieve. Some examples are:

Break down long-term goals into stages

Long-term goals can take weeks or months to reach. A short-term goal is something you can achieve in one to two weeks.

Each stage of a long-term goal can become a separate short-term goal, with progress recorded and celebrated.

A long-term goal might be: I want to go back to living independently. One of the short-term goals on the way to achieving this might be: I want to be able to go to the toilet by myself.

The hospital team or community team can help you break down your long-term goals into short-term goals.

Click the image to see examples of short-term goals.

Goal-setting sheets

Use these long-term and short-term goal-setting sheets to try setting your own goals.

Based on Goal planning, Older Persons Health and Rehabilitation (OPH&R), Canterbury DHB, ref. 3653. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2022.


See also:

Getting back into community-based activities

Page reference: 232075

Review key: HIGSI-232075