One of the toughest things about depression and anxiety is how hard everything feels. Problems that used to just be a hassle begin to take over your life - even things you used to enjoy seem like too much work. It’s part of the hopelessness that comes with depression and anxiety, and it’s one of the things that make kicking it so hard.
Having goals is important. It gives you a sense of hope – a feeling that things can be different. A plan of attack is a must because when you’re feeling rubbish you’ll probably feel like quitting.
Believing that you can overcome hurdles and achieve what you want is a big reason why having goals is linked to good mental health. But that belief in your own ability doesn’t just magically appear. It comes from ticking off tiny, realistic goals. It feels good to know you can do stuff, and to have ‘evidence’ like a checklist covered with ticks!
People will often say they just want to “feel better”, but does “better” mean happier, or calmer, or more motivated, or having more friends… the list goes on. How do you know you’ve got there if you don’t know where you’re heading? Having specific goals also helps you pinpoint what is you want to be different.
It doesn’t matter what you choose, the important thing is to try and make it happen.
Here are some ideas:
- Keep it simple and as specific as you can
- Think about what’s realistic - if you choose something that’s unreasonable to achieve, it could just make you feel worse that you can’t do it
- Writing it down can help you commit to doing it
- Put it where you can see it – or tell other people about it if you think it’ll help to have them remind you
- If you set a date and give yourself a deadline, it can help push you along to try to meet it.
- Celebrate - Give yourself a reward for doing it
- Learn from mistakes – it’s ok if it doesn’t work out. You can still take something from it
- Keep going - pick something a bit bigger this time and go again
You may be surprised at the good feeling you get from hitting your goals. It will give you a nice little boost and a better, more hopeful, headspace for when you’re dealing with the tough times.