Goal setting for anyone is a challenge.
Goals are routinely set, and despite good intentions, rarely carried through. In life today, where life demands are high, people are busy, and many activities ranging from television to fitness to fellowship all vie for someone’s attention, people have to work for change.
New Year’s Eve is commonly when people set new goals for the coming year. According to an article from Business Insider in 2017, most resolutions meet their demise by mid-February. With all the distractions of life, the changes just don’t stick.
For an emotionally normal person, the falling away of the goals can be seen as routine, and no big deal. For someone who battles mental illness, not succeeding at a goal can feel like a devastating blow, and make one wonder why they even tried in the first place.
I have met this blow repeatedly over the years, where I would set goal after goal, and consistently fall short of expectations. What I have found is that historically I have set ambitious goals, and bit off more than I can chew.
I have succeeded at goals in the past. I set my sights on becoming an EMT, and after a bit of a delay, it was a goal I accomplished in 2007. I spent 13 years working EMS in between 2000 and 2013, and I loved the career. Unfortunately it became untenable for my mental health situation, and I was forced to leave. Despite the feelings of failure when I was forced out, I realise now that there was some successes in my career, despite a considerable toll on my mental health.
Goal setting was something covered heavily in DBT components of a group I took part in. The focus of the goal setting covered in DBT was setting realistic goals. Setting a goal needs to be realistic and achievable. This last part is where I have fell down historically.
Once I have scaled back my goals and made them realistic they are made more manageable, thus achievable. Instead of setting a goal of dropping my weight below 240lbs, my initial goal is to drop below 250 again, which is a realistic short term goal.
Going back to school would be nice, but full-time is not a realistic goal. Part-time? Maybe. Same with work. Full-time is not in the cards, yet. Down the road? That has some potential. You learn to crawl before you walk, and you have to walk before you run. You are not going to break a leg and run a marathon the day after you get the cast off.
Taking little steps, setting realistic and achievable goals, and using the skills in your tool box are all important steps in dealing with mental health. Also knowing that despite the best of intentions, you are not going to achieve 100 per cent of all goals set out regardless of if they are achievable or not. That’s life.
Set goals that achievable and reasonable. Set them because you want to in order to benefit your life. Don’t set them because of an arbitrary date on a calendar.