Setting Mental Health Goals: How Setting Goals Can Help With Your Mental Health Journey

My personal journey didn’t start until I started setting goals for myself, maybe a little before that. The act of setting a goal for me before I decided to tackle working on my mental health was a daunting task. It was scary to think of something that I wanted to happen in my life, let alone actually work on a way to achieve it. In this post, I want to clarify and show you ways that setting goals can actually help you jumpstart your mental health journey.

According to healthdirect (Australia’s easily accessible health website provided by their governmental entity), setting goals is an effective way to increase motivation and to help you create the changes you want. Setting goals is a great way to take control of your life. It’s probably one of the most crucial first steps to take when you start recovering from mental illness.

See, if you struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or any other illness, it can make day-to-day tasks harder to keep up. In my personal journey, I would forget to take showers and I’d find myself stuck in a rut of zero self-esteem, but once I got myself on a schedule then I started feeling better about myself overall. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) actually teaches you to set goals as a first step in getting yourself on track.

By setting goals, you can focus on the important tasks so you can allow your brain to work on the things that will help you achieve your goals.

Types of Goals

Your goals can be short-term, medium, or long-term. There is no limit as long as you aren’t hindering your progress by overwhelming yourself.

  • Health: weight-loss or healthier lifestyle, training and completing for an endurance event, learning a new sport.
  • Career and Business: improving work performance, gaining a promotion or changing careers. Or in my journey, taking control of your business. Building your own brand.
  • Education: completing a diploma or degree, learning a new language, achieving certain results in school (Dean’s List).
  • Relationships and Family: spending time with children or partner, reducing conflict or making friends. Or my personal favorite, cutting negative (nonsupportive) family/friends out.
  • Creative/Artistic: Learning a musical instrument, cooking, starting a photo album/blog, writing a novel (my favorite)
  • Community or Volunteer Work: coaching a sports team, starting a charity project, or spiritual practice
  • Financial: saving money, reducing debt, achieving investment goals
  • Collective Goals: working on a community project

Setting SMART Goals

No matter how big or small your goals are, the first step in achieving them is to decide what exactly they are. Start with things that you enjoy as we are always happier when we use our strengths. Once you’ve decided on your goals, you can use the SMART theory to achieve them.

  • Specific: Be clear about what you want to achieve. If you want to be more financially stable, then your goal can be “I will save 10% of every paycheck” or “I will work 40 hours every week” or “I will invest in a financial advisor”. If you want to lose weight, you can say “I want to lose one pound a week” or “I want to fit my jeans from two years ago”
  • Measurable: Set goals that you can measure. Financially, you can use a savings account. Health-wise, you can use a weight tracker or apps for what you’re trying to measure.
  • Achievable: Set goals that you are able to do. I’m sure we all want to take over the world, but we have to be realistic. (Joke) But really, anything is possible, but keep it realistic or else you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Realistic: Like I said before, be realistic. If you want to lose 100 pounds, you probably should give yourself more time than two months.
  • Time-Related: Set a time-frame and have an endpoint. Having a deadline motivates you to achieve it. Personally, I like to use Nanowrimo as an example. The goal every November is to write 50k words in 30 days. It allowed me to know how many words I needed to do each day to meet or exceed that goal.

Of course, you should always have a support system of people who want you to achieve your goals. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can work wonders for your mental health while you are trying to achieve these goals as well.

Make sure to take a look at your large goals, break them down into smaller goals almost like a checklist so you can achieve more goals along the way.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you can think of any other useful goal-setting tips to add in the comments!

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