Setting realistic and achievable goals for yourself can feel intimidating, especially during early recovery. Luckily, we at Sage Recovery are here to help! While there are many ways to make goals, it is essential to ensure that your goals are realistic and achievable. Moreover, below are some suggestions to consider when creating and attempting to meet goals in your daily life.
An article by Clinical Rehabilitation explains that the key to achieving a goal is found in the way the goal is written. They go on to detail that the ideal method of goal writing is to ensure the goals are “SMART”:
Furthermore, the article confirms that using the SMART method “saves time and simplifies the construction of goals that are sufficiently specific to be measurable.”
Setting SMART goals is not intended to be used as a way of self-shaming if you don’t achieve the goal in the time you initially set. Rather, the purpose of using the SMART goal-setting method is to set you up for success from the beginning.
One key to setting realistic and achievable goals is to start small. This doesn’t mean you can’t set big goals; it just means that it’s easier to achieve smaller goals that can build on each other. As a result, starting small helps to build momentum and encouragement toward bigger goals.
For example, if your big goal is to save $50 but you’re starting at $0, you’ll first have to find a way to get to $50. So the first step in achieving your goal of $50 could be to earn $5. Once you earn $5, you can make a new goal to earn $10, then $15, and continue the process until you get to $50. Starting small can keep you from getting intimidated or discouraged when things don’t go according to plan.
One of the most important keys to setting goals for your mental health is to remember there is no timeline for healing. Everyone has their individual process of healing and will heal at different paces. Moreover, it’s more important to heal healthily than quickly.
For example, setting a goal to stop grieving the loss of a loved one by a certain date probably wouldn’t be helpful. Not only is grief perpetual and constantly changing, but it might also make you feel worse once that date comes and you’re not “healed.” It would be healthier to set a goal of scheduling an appointment with a grief counselor by a certain date. This way, you can track the small steps toward the ultimate goal of healing healthily from your grief, as well as checking something off your to-do list.
Another way to ensure that you’re healing healthily is to check in regularly with a mental health clinician, like a licensed professional counselor (LPC). Speaking to an LPC regularly, like the ones at Sage Recovery, can help you maintain good mental health, as well as assist you in setting healthy goals. LPCs can specialize in certain areas, such as:
Finding an LPC that specializes in the area(s) you are struggling with could be a game-changer in your healing journey. They’ll be able to help you heal healthily, as well as equip you with tools to use to stay healthy.
Being actively involved in the community is another important aspect of being able to achieve your goals. Letting others know about your goals, or being around people who have similar goals, can help you achieve yours.
If you aren’t sure where to find people who are like you, attending group therapy could result in finding like-minded people who have had similar life experiences. Not only are you able to hold each other accountable, but you can also feed off of each other’s victories. This can create momentum and encouragement to push through when things get tough or don’t go according to plan. Many treatment centers, like Sage Recovery, offer various group therapy options. This way, you can find one that works for your schedule and healing journey.
Additionally, treatment centers often plan alumni events for people who have attended their residential or outpatient treatment programs. Regularly connecting with people who you’ve deeply bonded with can help you feel understood, seen, and accepted. It can also help you keep your priorities straight or even encourage you to alter them healthily.
Being physically active can also positively influence mental health. An article by Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports found that physical exercise can improve depressive symptoms. The article states, “Studies have also found that physical activity reduces the symptoms of depression as effectively as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), pharmacotherapy, and even bright light therapy in individuals with [major depressive disorder] MDD.” Thus, it is common for people in mental health treatment to create goals that improve their physical health. These goals can include:
An important aspect of setting goals for your physical health is ensuring that your goals are realistic for your body and current health status. For example, if you just had heart surgery, you shouldn’t immediately begin bench-pressing heavy weights. Not only would you not be able to lift the weight, but you could severely damage the incisions and your heart. Instead, a safer option would be to begin physical activity under the supervision of a clinician, such as a physical therapist.
Here at Sage Recovery, we believe that there are multiple pathways to healing. That’s why we offer customized treatment plans to all of our patients. Whether you need help healing from anxiety, depression, trauma, or substance use, our licensed clinicians can help you heal healthily. We offer evidence-based treatment techniques, such as CBT, DBT, and EMDR. Additionally, we pride ourselves on our innovative techniques, such as equine therapy, nature immersion, wellness groups, and more. Whether you require residential or outpatient treatment, we’re here to help. Reach out to us at (512) 306-1394 when you’re ready to begin your healing journey. We’re here to walk alongside you every step of the way.