No matter where you are on your mental health journey, working toward specific goals can help you live the life you want while managing your mental illness.
You may start with setting one small goal to accomplish each day (e.g. writing down 3-5 things you’re grateful for in a journal or going to sleep an hour earlier than usual). Ask yourself, "What's one thing I can do today that helps me get closer to where I want to be?" Once you become more confident, you can work on accomplishing larger, more long-term goals. Think of the short-term goals you set as stepping stones to your larger recovery goal. You can use the Goal Setting Worksheet and the Weekly Motivator to start planning out your goals.
To help you figure out what goals to set, think about:
- What’s important to you?
- What are your hopes and dreams?
- What would you like to do more of?
- What does being happy mean to you?
- What is an area of life you would like to improve (e.g. relationships)?
Short-term goal ideas
- Be out of bed by a certain time
- Finish a household task
- Call a support group
- Introduce myself to someone new at work
- Get to a healthy weight
- Stick to a daily schedule
Long-term goal ideas
- Improve or build a relationship with a friend or family member
- Find/keep a job that I enjoy
- Move out of my parent’s house
- Get out of debt
- Earn an associate’s degree
- Get involved in the community
Some tips for setting goals include:
Use the S.M.A.R.T. approach to goal-setting, making sure that your goals are:
- Specific (Does your goal answer who, what, when, where, why, or which?). Goals should be defined as much as possible. WHO is involved, WHAT do I want to accomplish, WHERE will it be done, WHY am I doing this?
- Measurable (Does your goal include how much or how many?). Goals should allow you to track your progress and measure the outcome.
- Achievable (Is your goal reachable?). Goals should be challenging, but achievable. Goals work best when they are neither too easy or too difficult.
- Relevant (Is your goal worthwhile?). The goal should seem important and beneficial to you.
- Time-based (Does your goal answer when?). Your goal should have a time limit. Deadlines will keep you motivated.
Take it step by step
Large goals are easier to reach and more manageable if you break them into smaller ones.
Don’t do it alone
Get help and encouragement from your support network as you work toward your goals. One way to do so is by having an accountability partner. This person holds you accountable for achieving your goals and you hold them accountable for achieving theirs. An accountability partner should check in regularly to make sure you’re making progress. Celebrate your successes together as you get closer to achieving your goals.
Make your goals known
Sharing your goals publicly may make you may feel more committed to achieving them.
Track and share your progress
Keep track of your progress and share it with your support network.
Believing in yourself is an important part of working towards your goals.