How to Set Goals When Living with Depression
Setting goals can be a huge step towards making positive changes in your life and helping you challenge mental health issues.
Setting goals can be a difficult task at the best of times. Goal setting when depressed can be incredibly difficult. It is important that you focus on setting goals that are attainable and ones that are going to help you improve your life. These goals don’t have to be huge, grandiose statements that will change everything about you, but instead, they should be small, attainable goals that will help you make tiny improvements that really go a long way.
Set Smaller Goals
One of the most important things to do if you are goal setting when depressed is to set yourself smart, attainable goals.
When most people set themselves goals or targets, they often set themselves generalized goals like ‘be happier’ or ‘get healthier’. These goals are very non-specific, so it can be difficult to measure your progress and check if you are actually achieving anything.
Instead, you should set yourself little landmarks or milestones. Make sure that the milestones you set yourself are attainable and are nothing too drastic.
For example, if you want to lose weight, set yourself a target of losing 3lbs. Once you have done this, you can then set your next target. Allow yourself to be flexible and don’t set difficult deadlines if you even want to set deadlines at all. Doing this will make your targets feel much more attainable and will also make you feel much better about yourself in the long run. This is a much more effective method of goal setting.
Setting yourself a number of small, manageable and more personal goals on a daily basis can also help you make some serious improvements in the long run. If you suffer from anxiety or depression and find daily tasks difficult, making yourself a short list can be really helpful. Setting yourself simple goals such as making your bed or going for a short walk each day can really help your sense of self-esteem. Ticking your tasks off the list as you do them provides a sense of achievement.
Remember, life is a marathon, not a sprint, and these small goals will help you make steady progress. You can also stop any of the changes you are making if they feel too drastic or extreme. Over time, these small changes will also begin to add up and you will start to see a considerable improvement in the quality of your life and in the way that you feel about yourself. What once seemed impossible will quickly begin to feel like a normal part of your day to day life.
Don’t be so hard on yourself
One of the most important things you should do when it comes to setting goals for yourself is to accept and prepare for the fact that you may not achieve them. Not achieving a goal can happen for a number of different reasons but it is important that you are prepared for different eventualities. It is important to not be too hard on yourself if you slip up as this can be hugely detrimental to your own well-being. Focus on picking yourself up and continuing towards your target, even if reaching it takes a little bit longer than you first anticipated.
By their nature, a lot of targets and goals are focused on negativity. They often involve us finding something we don’t like about ourselves and looking for ways to change it. In some ways, there is no problem with that because self-improvement is not a bad thing, but it can also be damaging if we fail to achieve those targets.
It is important then, that when setting goals for yourself, you attempt to shift your mindset a little bit. Of course, this is much easier said than done. Shifting your mindset can be extremely difficult, especially if you are wrestling with depression, but it is possible.
For example, if you want to run a marathon, then don’t worry about what time you can finish it in or whether or not you can beat other people. Run it just for yourself. Make finishing your goal, no matter how long it takes you. This kind of mentality is much more important than one that focuses on a negative aspect or something that is needlessly competitive. Goal setting and achievement can be a huge boost for your mental health and can also be incredibly inspiring. The sense of achievement after completing one goal will help you set another one.
One of the most important elements of setting your goals, especially when you are goal setting when depressed, is to believe in yourself and what you are capable of. It is easy to set yourself a goal, look at it and say to yourself, ‘I probably won’t be able to do that.’ Those voices inside your head need to be ignored. If you believe you can’t do something, then chances are that you won’t do it.
You must learn to tell yourself that you can do something and that you are capable of achieving what you want to achieve. Once again, this is where having a strong support network who believe in you can be incredibly important. It is easy to beat yourself up and listen to those voices but all that you will end up doing then is wasting time and feeling worse about yourself in the long run. Believing in yourself, as cliche as it may sound, is essential if you want to be able to set and achieve goals, especially when you are goal setting when depressed.