Health Matters | The Do's and Don'ts of Setting Goals

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The Do's and Don'ts of Setting Goals

We all have something in our lives that we strive for or work to achieve. Setting goals keeps us motivated and striving to eventually reach them. Whether it be goals set for work, health, education, family or romantic relationships, or community and volunteering goals, the act of setting goals allows us to focus on that part of our lives and work to improve it. While setting goals may help us in many aspects of life, for those who struggle with mental illness, setting goals may be an important step maintaining stability. Examples of goals that can help you improve your mental health include:
  • Taking care of yourself: This includes regular exercise, eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, getting adequate sleep, quitting smoking, and drinking more water. Working to take better care of your body may also help you better your mind.
  • Learning how to manage stress: Everyone deals with stress differently, some handle it better than others. Set a goal to learn how you deal with stress and techniques that can help you manage it.
  • Valuing yourself: Not only is taking care of your body important, but taking care of your mind is important as well. Be kind and respectful to your mind and try to avoid self-criticism.
Though setting goals may help you stay on track with what you want, setting the wrong kind of goals may lead to further stress. Focusing too hard on your goals may distract you from your daily care needs. If you spend all of your time working toward your goal, you may lose sight of what you are working toward. If you want to set goals for yourself, avoid:
  • Setting goals that are too high or unrealistic: Give yourself the opportunity to reach your goals. If you set a goal that is too high or unobtainable you may find yourself eventually giving up.
  • Setting too many goals: Instead of setting a bunch of goals for yourself, try selecting just one or two and working toward those. You don’t have to give up your other goals, just set them aside and tackle one at a time. This will keep you motivated and eager to begin the next goal after reaching your current one.
  • Setting goals that are not specific enough: Set goals that are specific to what you want to accomplish. For example, don’t just say you want to lose weight or exercise more. Set a specific goal to lose X amount of weight, or to work out every day. This will keep you focused on exactly what you want rather than just working to achieve your goals without getting sidetracked or frustrated.

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