Realistic goals for your mental health

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January is a time for reflection for many. We assess our lives and often plan for improvement. Setting goals is really the only way to get anything done in your daily life as well as the bigger picture, but it’s important that you set realistic goals for your mental health. In this blog, we explore why this is.

But why set goals to begin with?

Most people want to see some change or improvement in their lives. Goal setting is an effective way to increase motivation and satisfaction with your life. It can range from improving health and relationships to improving productivity at work. It can also help you build a meaningful life. The practice can teach you essential lessons on many things, from independence, resilience, and competition to forgiveness and kindness. These skills are known to be significant contributors to your mental health and happiness.

Benefits of setting realistic goals

Reaching goals. The first thing is, of course, that if you set a realistic goal, you are much more likely to reach it. This will have an amazing effect on you. Your body’s reward system will kick in, and you will have feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction and not guilt and regret.

Reaping the rewards. Also, if you reach a goal, you have just “leveled up.” You will have all the benefits of having achieved something as well as the feel-good factor. This is much more likely if you have set realistic goals, thus boosting mental health.

Reaching future goals. Reaching one goal sets you up for reaching the next. Once you can run for one kilometer, you are much closer to running that 5k in the park, your final goal.

Valuable Experiences. Achieving goals can provide you with valuable learning experiences that will benefit not only your mental health but your life in general.

 

Five tips for setting goals:

  1. Identify where you want to improve. The first thing you need is to determine where you want to improve. This can be many different arenas of your life, for example, financial, emotional, or physical. Evaluate your life and try to pick out the things that you would like to change. Then you’re ready to start setting goals.
  1. Identify Your Overall Goals. After you identify the areas of your life you want to focus on, you can set your overall goals. Your overall goal could be something like managing your mental health, finishing college, or buying a house. It can be absolutely anything you want for your life.
  1. Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  Now, get out a pen and start writing your most important goal; what outcome do you want to achieve?  Then, describe exactly how you will achieve it by writing out a plan covering each of the S.M.A.R.T. components below. Remember, the more detailed you are, the better your chance at making your dreams come true!
  1. Accept setbacks and keep moving forward. Sometimes, life doesn’t go our way. Not all goals will be reached in time or at the level we desire. That doesn’t mean you should give up! Remember, we learn much more from our failures than we do from our successes. Learn from your mistakes, cut out what doesn’t work for you, and try again tomorrow. Keeping trying new things and readjust your plan as much as you need to get to the finish line.
  1. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. This is a common trap people fall into. Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Don’t get discouraged by others’ successes. Remember to focus on yourself and your journey. Learn who you are and set goals that work for your life and personality — not someone else’s.