How can I set and achieve goals to improve my heart health?
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

How can I set and achieve goals to improve my heart health?

Question of the month blog

Your behaviours, the actions that you take every day, can help to have a positive impact on your heart health. 

Read over these questions, and think about your answers and steps you can take towards taking better care of your heart: 

  • Are you being active enough? 
  • Is your diet good for your heart? 
  • Do you take the right dose of your medications at the right time? 
  • Are you smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol? 
  • Do you know your blood pressure and cholesterol and how to manage them?
  • Have you seen your GP for a heart health check? 

Whether it’s in the lead up to a new year or a milestone birthday, after a holiday or in response to a change in your health, many people decide: It’s time to do something about my heart health! 

Sometimes, we announce this to our family and friends. Otherwise, we might just start pounding the pavement, eliminating junk foods from our pantries, or we could join the gym. 

These are all great things to do for your heart but, when you take this “just do it” approach, there are many things that can get in the way: 

  • Your motivation could run out of puff 
  • You may find it hard to give up on temptations like junk foods 
  • Your social life, family life or work life becomes too hectic 
  • You don’t see “instant progress”, so you give up 

This happens all too often.  Think about the beginning of this year: maybe you started off in January with a goal to “get healthier”. But, by March, you found yourself facing a monthly direct debit even after you had stopped going to the gym. 

How can I set goals and develop long term habits to improve my heart health? 

If goals are the first step towards behaviour change, habits are the key. 

Let’s begin by taking a deeper look at how setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely goals can help you achieve better heart health. We’re talking about SMART goals: 

  • Specific to give yourself the best shot at success, set a heart health goal that is specific. Instead of saying, “I want to eat healthier foods”, set a goal that goes like this: “I will eat oily fish for dinner three times each week”. As an alternative to saying, “I need to get fitter so that my heart is healthier”, set a goal that is crystal clear: “I will walk for 30 minutes every day”.  
  • Measurable each of the goals mentioned above are so specific that progress towards achieving them can be measured. By keeping track of how you are advancing, you will see your results in real-time. This helps you to build momentum and encourages you to keep going. 
  • Achievable maybe you have heard of the concept of “Couch to 5K”? The idea came from a young runner who wanted to motivate his mum to get active. The core of the idea is that you begin by running for one minute, and you build up from there. Most of us can go for a one-minute run. Plus, it’s a lot easier, more achievable and more realistic than going from the couch to instantly running a marathon. 
  • Relevant your goal should be relevant to you and your point in life. This relates back to the idea of keeping things achievable. Don’t commit to cooking healthy dinners each night if you typically come home from work late. Remember that your heart health goals are yours; don’t try to achieve them by following someone else’s cooking plan or exercise regime. 
  • Timely Set a timeline by which you want to achieve your goals. If you want to quit smoking, for example, set a specific date. Having a timeline gives you greater motivation to achieve your goals and develop new, heart-healthy habits. 

What are some tips for sticking to my heart health goals?   

We all know that setting goals and sticking with them can be challenging. When you don’t see quick improvements or if you find it challenging to keep motivated, that’s OK; don’t look at this as a failure. Instead, see it as a chance to review your heart health goals to make sure they are realistic and achievable. 

Reach out to a friend or someone in your family for support; it helps to have a “goal buddy”, someone who knows what you are working towards. Your goal buddy can help you stay motivated and keep on track. 

If you find it hard to stick with your heart health goals, you are not alone. Even world-famous comedians can face an uphill battle when it comes to setting and achieving goals. That’s why Jerry Seinfeld developed his unique method to stay focused on writing jokes. While your heart health is no laughing matter, you can also bring this approach to developing and sticking to heart-healthy habits. His method is called “Don’t Break The Chain”. 

Here’s how Don’t Break The Chain works: 

  • Choose your goal. Let’s say that yours is to walk 5 kilometres every day. 
  •  Put a calendar on your wall. Stick a large format calendar on a wall in your bedroom, lounge, study or kitchen. You could also use a calendar app on your phone if that works better for you. 
  • X marks the spot. On each day that you achieve your goal, mark the day with a red ‘X’, or write ‘Done’ in your calendar app. 
  • Commit to the ‘X’. Feel the reward, experience the sense of achievement, when you mark the X on your calendar. Every time you do this, you are one day closer to achieving your goals. 
  • Don’t Break The Chain. You will feel so empowered each time you mark the X, each time you create a new link in the chain, that you won’t want to break the chain: you will just keep going. 

After a few weeks of following this method, you will have set, and met, your goal of working towards better heart health. Plus, you will be more likely to stick to it. Please get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter to let us know how you go! 

You might also be interested in

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

What is FoodTrack?

FoodTrack supports the collection and monitoring of nutrition and product data for foods and beverages in Australian supermarkets. ...

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

Feelings and emotions after a heart attack

This is a guide to how you might be feeling after a heart attack. ...

7 tips for staying healthy over winter

7 tips for staying healthy over winter

7 tips for staying healthy over winter

Tips for healthy eating and recipe ideas over winter and how to exercise when it's cold outside. ...

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your family moving

Get your kids active and set them up for healthier habits into adulthood....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Active Australia Innovation Challenge

Active Australia Innovation Challenge

Active Australia Innovation Challenge

Make your bright idea a reality....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Benefits of physical activity for your heart

Physical activity and exercise can do wonders for your physical and mental health....

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

Blueprint for an active Australia 

The Blueprint for an active Australia provides evidence-based actions to help address physical inactivity....

Physical activity action plan

Physical activity action plan

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Physical activity after a heart attack

Discover what you need to know about being active after a heart attack....

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods....

Psychological and social health action plan

Psychological and social health action plan

Key steps that can help you manage your emotional health....

Exercises to do at home

Exercises to do at home

Exercises to do at home

All you need to know about keeping active during COVID-19....

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Lower your cholesterol, whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even a snack....

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Fats, oils and heart health

Get the right balance of healthy fats in your diet ...

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

Food and nutrition position statements

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Reading food labels

Nutrition information panels and ingredients lists are a good way of comparing similar foods so you can choose the healthiest option....

Physical activity resources

Physical activity resources

Physical activity resources

Resources for health professionals interested in physical activity....

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

Fruit, vegetables and heart health

How to boost your fruit and vegetable intake to help protect your heart. ...

Get active during winter

Get active during winter

Get active during winter

Get ready to go with our winter workout tips....

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Healthy Active by Design

Improving the design of our cities, towns, streets and buildings makes it easier for Australians to lead heart-healthy lives....

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

Healthy eating to protect your heart

What does a heart-friendly diet look like?...

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

Heart Foundation Tick

The Tick Program has made a substantial contribution to the health of Australians over the past 26 years....

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Heart Foundation Walking

Learn more about Heart Foundation Walking and find your local walking group....

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

How can I beat the barriers and get active for a healthy heart?

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

Improving food supply

Improving food supply

Improving food supply

The Heart Foundation supports initiatives that guide people to healthier food and drink choices. ...

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

While water is clearly the most heart-healthy drink, there are ther drinks that can be enjoyed in moderation. ...

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart

Jump Rope for Heart teaches school children how to keep fit and healthy through skipping!...

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

Lessons learned: recovering from open heart surgery

After having five open heart surgeries between the ages of 13 and 41, Peter knows a thing or two about recovery....

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Mental health and heart disease

Having a mental health condition can have a negative impact on your heart health and increase your risk of heart disease....

Looking after your emotional health in uncertain times

Looking after your emotional health in uncertain times

Looking after your emotional health in uncertain times

Blog by Carlye Weiner, Clinical Psychologist...

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Building physical activity into urban planning and design

Resources available for built environment professionals to help guide in the development of active outdoor and indoor spaces....

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Love mends broken hearts on Valentine’s Day

Today, Cupid is busy slinging arrows. Perhaps, you are frantic buying flowers or chocolates, booking dinner or penning a pitter-patter inducing poem....

Physical activity resources for patients and consumers

Physical activity resources for patients and consumers

Physical activity information for professionals...

New diet recommendations matter to your heart

New diet recommendations matter to your heart

New diet recommendations matter to your heart

Heart-healthy eating is not about one specific food or nutrient; it’s about regularly eating a variety of healthy foods over time....

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Getting active at school

Physical activity resources for school staff....

Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian

Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian

Associate Professor Nadine Kasparian

Understanding the connections between our physical and mental health....

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Physical activity in the workplace

Resources to help you create a more physically active workplace....

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Sharing scars, and more, on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day; some people celebrate, other’s vehemently oppose it. Whatever your opinion, it’s important to remember that the day is about love. All forms of it....

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and your heart health

Physical activity and exercise can benefit your heart, body and mind....

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

25 June 2018...

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Finding time for physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart...

Sorting fat from fiction

Sorting fat from fiction

Sorting fat from fiction

It seems when healthy eating is the subject, everyone wants to talk about fat. It can be a confusing and polarising topic....

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

Spring back to heart-healthy eating with these delicious tips

With spring sprung, now is the time to get back to heart-healthy eating. ...

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Surprising ways your family can meet the challenge to keep active

Surprising ways your family can meet the challenge to keep active

Surprising ways your family can meet the challenge to keep active

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

Sit less, move more

You may be surprised to know that on average, adults sit for nine hours a day....

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

Have you thought about what you are getting for your children this Father’s Day?...

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

Walk away from heart disease

Walk away from heart disease

Walk away from heart disease

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Nine out of 10 Australians could reduce the risk of heart disease by walking as little as 15 minutes more each day....

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

When The Heart Gets Heavy: Emotional Wellbeing and Heart Conditions

Emotional wellbeing is like having a garden, sometimes it grows green on its own, other times it needs watering, cutting back or fertilising....

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

How your waist measurement contributes to your heart health...

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

Why are you playing this game? It’s putting your heart at risk.

The game is “hide and seek”. You play it without even realising. The shock is that when you play this game, you could be placing your heart health at risk....

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

Wholegrains and heart health

All you need to know about wholegrains to put you on the right track...

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

You’ll love our heart-healthy winter recipes

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

Everything we do is possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. ...

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Aussie men among the world’s most obese, new data

Media Release - 16 November 2020...

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Heart conditions in women

Like men, women can be diagnosed with a range of heart conditions....

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

Heart Health Check Toolkit – Register Your Interest

The Heart Foundation will soon be launching a Heart Health Check Toolkit for GPs, practice nurses and practice managers....

Coronary Angiogram Test

Coronary Angiogram Test

This is a common test done to find out angina symptoms, or during or after a heart attack. ...

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

Permanent Pacemaker (PPM)

A small, battery-powered device that is fitted under the skin of your upper chest....

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Australian Heart Maps

Our Heart Maps allow you to take a closer look at heart disease indicators across Australia....

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Search our lunch recipe ideas...

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Heart attack recovery – quit smoking

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease. Get the facts on quitting and how it can help you recover. ...

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril credits cardiac rehab for getting his life back

Cyril suffered a heart attack in 2015. Cardiac rehab helped get his life back on track. ...

Advocating for healthy hearts throughout Australia

Advocating for healthy hearts throughout Australia

We're addressing the disparities in heart health so all Australians can live longer, healthier lives....

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Managing your funding

Resources to help manage your grant, scholarship or fellowship....

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Smoking and your heart

Understand how smoking can impact your heart health. ...

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

A nurse shares her top recovery tips for young cardiac patients

Pauline is a nurse and shares advice for young people who have had a heart event or are recovering from surgery....

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Kylie defied the heart attack stereotypes

Cardiac rehabilitation was a turning point for Kylie and essential to her heart failure recovery....

Coronary Artery Calcium Score

Coronary Artery Calcium Score

A Coronary Artery Calcium Score or CT Calcium test can be used to estimate your risk of heart attack or stroke....

Heart stories

Heart stories

Heart stories

Stories of hope from Australian men and women fighting heart disease....

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Support and resources for health care professionals

Our range of clinical and patient support resources are available for you to use in your daily practice....

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Health Professional Ambassador Program

Would you like to improve the cardiovascular health of your patients?...

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Media Release - 26 June 2020...

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Research funding programs

Research funding programs

Research funding programs

Our research funding supports outstanding researchers who share our vision of an Australia free from heart disease. ...

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Get started with more physical activity

Finding time for physical activity is one of the best things you can do for your heart...