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Life + Faith

Goal Setting and Depression

Happy New Year! It’s that goal setting time of year again when everyone else seems to get super productive and motivated, and I’m sitting here with overwhelming analysis paralysis.

I’ve been collecting goal setting workbooks, watching goal setting webinars, and reading goal setting blog posts as if I’ve never heard of goal setting before. I’ve joined at least three goal setting Facebook groups, and my inbox is filled with goal setting tips, tricks, and inspirational emails: Bigger goals! Better goals! Find your passion! Create your best life! More goals! ALL THE GOALS!!

And then I turn on Netflix and binge watch ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ because I just can’t goal anymore.

Now I know this happens to a lot of people, but as someone who lives with anxiety and depression (most days are good now, some days are not) the process of setting goals beyond ‘get out of bed and go to work so I can keep paying my rent’ can be overwhelming and leave me feeling less-than and defeated before I even start.

The thing is, I want to set goals. I want to set big goals! I have goals that keep rolling over from year to year but I get swept up in they new year hype and forget that for me, my center of motivation is entirely intrinsic. You can’t pay me to reach my goals (although I’m open to testing the theory…ha!). I completely overdo it on trying to force myself to find some outside motivation because it’s hard to be internally motivated when you’re focused on fighting off depression, and it can turn into a never ending cycle of self-defeat.

I want to work on making this year different though, and that starts with acknowledging that I am going to have to do things differently and start very very small. I need to build on the things that have worked in the past for me, and remember that no matter what others are doing, this is my journey, and as long as I’m moving toward my destination, I’m doing alright.

Below are three goal-setting tips that have helped me in the past:

Be Specific

“I want to be happy” is a great goal, and one I used to say all the time, but it can’t be measured. What makes you happy? Reading? Crafts? Music? Write it down as “I want to read one book a month” or “I want to do one new craft project every week”. General phrases are easy to dismiss as non-accomplishments when we’re not in a self-forgiving mood, but specific goals help us evaluate our progress so we can readjust as necessary.

Make the Bed (start small)

Yeah, it sounds dumb but there was a time when I felt like this was one of the only things I had control over, so I started to make my bed every morning. Some mornings I would leave it unmade and I would have to force myself to go back into my room to make it. Eventually it became a habit and now I do it without even thinking about it. It’s a tiny thing to most people, but it proved that I could make change happen.

Walk, Don’t Run (take it slow)

Slow progress is better than no progress. I have a tendency to want results NOW (I think a lot of us do) but several years ago I lost 40 pounds without trying, because I forced myself to just get out and walk even though I just wanted to stay in the house. To the end of the block. Around the block. Around two blocks. All the tiny steps add up to bigger accomplishments. Remember that all the steps matter.

Do you have any goal-setting tips that have worked for you (depression or not)?

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4 Comments

  • Reply Patricia January 9, 2016 at 12:15 am

    I agree with your tips above! On being specific, here’s a quote from Antoine De-Saint Exupery: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” And boy, have I been wishing a lot in the past! I’m also slowly learning to be patient because it does take hard work and repetition for new habits to become second nature.

    P.S. The image that goes with this post is making me swoon <3

    • Reply Tiffany January 12, 2016 at 1:01 am

      Hi Patricia,

      That is a great quote! And so true. I’m going to work on planning out my goals in 2016 so they are not just wishes!

  • Reply The Southern Sylista January 9, 2016 at 9:49 am

    These are all great tips, especially making the bed! It’s a small thing that truly does make a big difference :)

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  • Reply Angie Scheie January 9, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I hear you! I love goal setting, but I bite off more than I can chew and sometimes get overwhelmed. Great tips!

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