Goal setting is important for those who want to improve their life. Setting goals helps you remain accountable for the things you want to achieve. Goal setting is even more important for those in counseling and therapy. Not knowing how to properly set up goals can often lead to failure. Setting goals can not only impact mental health, but it can also help you overcome depression and help you with rehabilitation.

Goal setting acts as a roadmap for you to follow when it comes to overcoming challenges and achieving things in life. Setting goals can obviously be very helpful in multiple areas of life. Goals can help you face emotional and behavioral difficulties, reconnect with old friends, help you look for a new job or simply help you save for a vacation.

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy based on the concept of pathological mental processing. The focus of treatment is on the modification of distorted cognitions and maladaptive behaviors. The goal setting approach below is used in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) but it can also be viewed as a standard approach or starting point. According to Rose & Smith, (2018), collaborative goal setting is a robust method when it comes to mental health support. The study, which gathered data over a 14-month time frame found that goal achievement and the strength of a working alliance were demonstrated to have a positive effect on personal recovery.

Define goals

1. Set a simple and specific goal

The first step may sound simple, but it is often challenging. To be crystal clear on what you want to achieve is quite harder. Sit in a comfortable and quiet setting, start reviewing your life. Look at your life goals that you really want to achieve. That goals might be your inner strength like self-confidence, overcoming anxiety, combating depression, or increasing concentration etc.

No one know you better than yourself. So start by yourself and direct to a specific and desirable action. It is the only YOU who can help yourself in the hour of need. When you get clarity about what are your goals, set simple and specific goal. Hence, it will keep you focused on moving forward toward achievement of your goal. You will not feel stagnate while analyzing your goals.

This is basically a goal setting process and it forces you to think about the journey instead of just the end of destination. Make your goals clear and well-defined. First consider what you want to achieve, commit to it, and put all your best efforts for your personal goal achievement.

2. Attainable goal setting

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, and skills to reach them. Your goal is attainable that means the goal you want to achieve must be within reach and not too difficult to achieve. A goal must be achievable and attainable. This will help you figure out ways you can realize that goal and work towards it.

The achievability of the goal should be stretched to make you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve it. Setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life. Goals also help align your focus and promote a sense of self-mastery. In the end, you can’t manage what you don’t measure and you can’t improve upon something that you don’t properly manage.

3. Take small steps

Larger goal may seem far-off and unattainable, but breaking it down into smaller goals establishes a defined path that you can travel. A focus on small steps helps us get started. After all, they don’t feel overwhelming. Not only do small steps allow you to make a start on your journey, they also help build the momentum that can result in a home run and even if that home run doesn’t materialize, the combination of lots of small steps over time will still compound into a great outcome.

When you start big, you give up before you even begin, but the smaller the step, the more likely you’ll do it. The more you do it, the more you’ll keep doing it, making it a meaningful part of your daily rhythm which is the entire point. Embrace the power of small steps. For example, set a small step of stepping outside for half an hour walk and 15 minutes of writing on a journal about your whole days. Eventually, you will feel the difference by constantly doing this. Set next target and go for it.

4. Focus one at a time

When you try to correct more than one thing at once, it’s easy to become distracted. You can’t do any one thing well because you’re trying to do many things poorly. But if you concentrate on a single goal, you’re able to obtain a laser-like focus that better helps you achieve that objective. Focusing on one task at a time results in higher productivity, lowers stress levels and makes you happier.

You can achieve almost anything in life if you focus on achieving one thing at a time. Single-tasking, the process of focusing on one task at a time, results in higher quality results in more quickly. If it’s exercising and journaling daily, then that will be your challenge for the next 2 months.

5. Be consistent

To be consistent means to fully dedicate yourself completely to a task, activity or goal. It means to fully stay engaged without distraction. To be consistent requires a commitment on your part. It requires that you commit yourself to a sustained effort of action over the long-term. Consistency allows you to measure success.

Consistency can help you overcome any lack in natural talent and allow you to focus on the process instead of the end goal. Consistency leads to habits. Habits form the actions we take every day. Action leads to success. You may take help from your closed one in order to be consistent or set an alarm for keep reminding you of doing your task.

Health check routine

6. Eat Healthy

Eating foods that are good for you and staying physically active may help you reach and improve how you feel. Starting your day with a healthy meal can help replenish your blood sugar, which your body needs to power your muscles and brain. Eating a healthy breakfast is especially important on days when exercise is on your agenda. Skipping breakfast can leave you feeling lightheaded or lethargic while you’re working out.

Eat vegetables and fruit, grain products, milk and milk alternatives all have carbohydrates, which provide energy for your workout. Drink milk and milk alternatives, eat meat, poultry, fish legumes (beans, lentils) and nuts and seeds provide the protein we need to build and repair muscles. Hence, by eating healthy, you will get the energy to stick to a task and achieve your goal.

7. Sleep well

Your brain and body functions stay active throughout sleep, and they form or strengthen the pathways of brain cells needed to perform tasks related to our daily routines of life. Your ability to function and feel well while you’re awake depends on whether you’re getting enough sleep. Sleeping well improves alertness, memory, mood, stress level and more. A good night’s sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Being engaged and active not only feels great but increases your chances for another good night’s sleep.

When you wake up feeling refreshed, use that energy to get out into the daylight, do active things, and be engaged with your world. You’ll sleep better the next night and increase your daily energy level.

peaceful sleeping environment

8. Exercise/Walk

Walking is a great way to improve or maintain your overall health. Just 30 minutes every day can increase cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones, reduce excess body fat, and boost muscle power and endurance. Take initiative to stay committed. Look at ways to make walking fun. Have a walking buddy such as a friend or spouse.  Any exercise or physical activity that gets the heart rate up and the blood flowing and releases endorphins is going to raise your energy level. Good cardiovascular exercises will strengthen your heart and give you more stamina.

9. Deep Breathing

Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Ideally, you should practice both exercises about 5 to 10 minutes every day.

Breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose. Breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. It is the good way to overcome anxiety, panic attack, and stressed situations.

Changing Perceptions

10. Behavioral patterns

Healthy behavior changes can target a person’s physical, emotional, or social health. Some examples of habits to improve mental health include: Getting proper exercise. Eating nutritious foods. Practicing good sleep hygiene. Socializing with supportive friends and family. Taking medications as prescribed. Physicians are in a position to help educate patients about the importance of healthy behavior change and to guide them to resources that may aid them in living healthier lives. Increased physical activity can directly and positively affect mood in individuals who experience depression. 

Partake in your favorite activities for no reason other than that they make you feel good. Go to a funny movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend. Doing things just because they are fun is no indulgence. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity. Having healthy diet, good sleep, talking with friends, adopting a pet, volunteering yourself for a community, and journaling habits can make you strong and mentally well.

11. Thoughts

We can’t always control our environment, but we can control our thoughts and how we react to our environment. It may seem like you have no control over your own thoughts. But that’s not true. You have a lot more control than you would imagine. We are constantly thinking about things, all day long. These are automatic thoughts. There is no basic problem with these thoughts unless they are almost always negative.

Everyone develops their own patterns of thinking that apply in many situations. These unhelpful thinking styles are learnt though life experiences and are linked to our beliefs about ourselves, others and the world.  Depending on the type of negative thoughts you are having, there is a specific way to turn them around. The first and most important steps are:

  • to have an awareness that you are having a lot of negative thoughts,
  • to spot them when they happen.

Once we start noticing our negative thoughts, we can either challenge them, by evaluating the evidence and creating a more realistic point of view, or we can mindfully acknowledge them, recognize that they are just thoughts, then decide what action to take. Cultivating new, more flexible ways of thinking can help us break free from cycles of distress and improve our mood and mental well-being.

12. Emotions

Being emotionally and mentally healthy does not mean never go through bad times or experience emotional problems. We all go through disappointments, loss, and change. And while these are normal parts of life, they can still cause sadness, anxiety, and stress.

The difference is that people with good emotional health have the ability to bounce back from adversity, trauma, and stress. People who are emotionally and mentally healthy have the tools for coping with difficult situations and maintaining a positive outlook. They remain focused, flexible, and creative in bad times as well as good. In order to maintain and strengthen your mental and emotional health, it’s important to pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Don’t let stress and negative emotions build up. Try to maintain a balance between your daily responsibilities and the things you enjoy. If you take care of yourself, you’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges if and when they arise. Taking care of yourself includes pursuing activities that naturally release endorphins and contribute to feeling good. 

13. Record and track

Ever feel worked up, depressed, or just plain bad without knowing exactly why? Many of us can wander under a cloud of vague, undefined gloom or anxiety for days if not longer.

It can make us feel like we’re living at the mercy of our emotions, instead of in control of them.

One useful exercise to get to the root of lingering negative feelings (and increase positive ones) is keeping a mood journal, or emotion journal. If you can record how you are feeling and what you are thinking, you are better able to track your emotions, notice people or places that are triggers, and recognize warning signs of your strong emotions. Journaling your thoughts, emotions, and challenges has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. One reason: Putting down our problems on paper often helps us see the causes and therefore solutions more clearly. When you can recognize these trends, you can work to eliminate or avoid certain triggers or focus your energy on how best to respond next time.

14. Time setting

Give your goals a time frame. Setting time frames also allows you to work towards your goal more efficiently; if you know there are only three months until your self-imposed deadline, you’ll know you must work that bit harder to achieve your goal.

Consider what healthy coping mechanisms you have at your disposal (better self-care, perhaps, or time with good friends), and take care to implement them. Don’t be discouraged, though. Continue journaling and fine-tuning your action plan to find what works best for you. The timeframes required to develop a new habit or new routine, depending on the complexity of the habit, is usually 3 to 6 weeks. In other words, if you do your habit consistently for 3 to 6 weeks, it will become routine to you and it will become a real habit.

Time Setting

Focuses on major goals

15. Short Term Goals

A short-term goal is something you want to do in the near future. The near future can mean today, this week, this month, or even this year. A short-term goal is something you want to accomplish soon. It can be a personal goal, social or emotional goals.

  • Family bonding. This is a designated time your family plans to interact with each other over a group of activities or a major fun project. Beneficial Effects of Spending Time Together: Family members learn how to listen and work together. Building forts, sharing stories, and just being together makes a difference in all of your lives. Family bonding time builds confidence, teaches children about interacting with others, and create wonderful memories that last a lifetime. It can provide emotional and mental strength to a person.
  • Socializing. It not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but also it helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer. In-person is best, but connecting via technology also works.
  • Maintain Health. To maintain healthy lifestyle, you need to keep eating healthy. Add more fruits and vegetables in your diet and eat less carbohydrates, and high sodium.
  • Work Involvement. Work is more meaningful to people who’ve had a role in shaping the agenda. When you are involved in work, you act more clearly, make calculated decisions, strategize work and also bring more enthusiasm. This results in an increase in productivity and overall growth of the organization and mental well-being.
  • Do Meditation and Mindfulness Activity. Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. Take time out of life at least half an hour to dedicate yourself in practicing meditation and mindfulness activity.
  • Do pleasurable activities. When we engage in pleasurable activities that make us feel connected to other people and places we feel better about ourselves and our relationships. Sometimes it can be useful to give yourself a break, go away and do something else. In fact, even when you are experiencing urgent stressors, sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to stop and do something relaxing, something meaningful, something pleasant or simply something different.
  • Reward for achieving goal. By rewarding yourself in the moment, your brain elicits positive emotions, leading to the realization that your efforts result in a positive reward. By doing this continuously, your brain will start to link pleasure to accomplishing the task or objective and move towards it in the future. Reward can be anything in the form of tour, having your best food at your favorite restaurant, or watch a movie.
  • Seek Support. If you are feeling difficulty in stabilizing yourself and you are not able to do good for you. Then do not feel hesitation in asking for help from family, friends and mental health professionals. Online consultations are also available to take help from them.

16. Mid Term Goals

A medium term goal is one that takes a bit longer. It could be a goal to be achieved in the next 2 weeks, a month or perhaps 6 months. The time length may vary from a person to person. Journaling can help you focus toward your goals and along with journal writing, you may consult for professional assessment and help.

  • Treat Anxiety. While setting your goal to combat anxiety, journaling can also help people suffering from anxiety disorders. In fact, compared to many other aims when journaling, it is extremely well-suited to helping you deal with anxiety. There’s simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down. Journaling is simply about writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. And if you struggle with stress or anxiety, keeping a journal is a great idea. It can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.
  • Treat Depression. Journaling has been shown to be effective in helping people manage their depressive symptoms. Journaling is no substitute for professional guidance when the depression is particularly severe, but it can complement other forms of treatment or act as a stand-alone symptom management tool for those with mild depression. Set your goal to overcome depression, after achieving small targets, you can do this by the help of a psychologist near you.
  • Overcome mental conditions. Are you suffering from any mental stressors and your goal is to overcome those disturbances. Do not plunge into hurry. Calm down and set your targets with time. You could not able to fight with mental conditions in few hours or days, it took time to heal down completely. So find ways that best suit you and stick to it by consistently paying attention and maintaining a daily routine.

17. Long Term Goals

A long-term goal is something you want to accomplish in the future. Long-term goals require time and planning. They are not something you can do this week or even this year. Long-term goals are usually at least several years away.

  • Consultation. Mental health consultation is taken as an interaction between a mental health specialist, the consultant, and a person or persons, the consultee or consultees, who believe that they have a work problem which can benefit from the expertise of the mental health specialist. If you suffer from extreme mental condition after proper assessment and diagnosis, it is essential for you to set your goal to visit your psychologist or mental health professionals. It may take time but you will feel lighten and spot your strengths to regain your mental health.
  • Therapies. Therapies helps build self-esteem, reduce anxiety, strengthen coping mechanisms, and improve social and community functioning. Supportive psychotherapy helps patients deal with issues related to their mental health conditions which in turn affect the rest of their lives.
  • Balancing Personal and Professional life. Having a balanced life both personally and professionally is the ultimate goal set for almost every person. Setting boundaries to separate your work and personal life not only increases efficiency at work, but it also reduces stress in your personal life. Both of these mean more relaxation and less burnout. And for employers, it means a reduced turnover rate while building a reputation as a great place to work. Make yourself available and devoted to strive for the balance. Journal writing will keep you oriented and stabilized to live a healthy life.
Short, Mid, Long Term Goals

Progress Check

18. Completion check

Mental wellbeing at work is just as important as physical wellbeing, and the two tend to go hand in hand. But many people forget to ensure to keep an eye on their mental health, and sometimes allow it to slip. Work is where you spend most of your time, and it is usually the environment that can cause the most stress and anxiety. However, there are ways to manage these feelings and to keep on top of your mental wellbeing. These ways may include talk about your feelings, change you routine, staying healthy and seeking help.

19. Monitoring

Self-monitoring involves monitoring their self-presentations, expressive behavior, and nonverbal affective displays. It is defined as a personality trait that refers to an ability to regulate behavior to accommodate social situations. Self-monitoring is a new trend in personal electronic health where computing tools such as wearable sensors and mobile apps collect, process and display a wealth of personal data to help you keep track of and manage all aspects of your health.

20. Reviewing goals

By reviewing your main goal(s) daily, you keep them at the forefront of your mind. This way, you ensure you direct your time, energy and attention at the most important thing every single day, making it much easier to say ‘no’ to other opportunities that could derail your focus.

21. Follow up

It sounds a bit strange for few of you as self-following is not the easy thing to do. Believe me, self-following up on your goals or targets, can provide you more benefits than any other thing. You can be your own supervisor and leader. You can make yourself push toward achieving your set goals and stay motivated.

Summary

The point is to make the goals for your therapy those that are relevant to you, with input from your therapist to make sure they are clear and are what you actually want as opposed to what you think you should want. If you’re about to make a significant step towards achieving your life’s goals every detail is important. In fact, I think it’s important to set goals based on your own definition and idea of what a social goal, a family goal, or a character goal might be and you will be able to enhance your mental well-being.

Moving forward with Psychotherapy

Fortunately, Ahealo.com offers a global ePsychotherapy platform that allows clients to book an online anonymous private appointment with a broad skill range of psychotherapists at an affordable cost and desired schedule.

Ahealo - Online Psychotherapy Platform

Alternatively, if you need to seek psychotherapy, be sure to check out ahealo.com. Ahealo is an online psychotherapy platform with a diverse range of psychotherapists for many different fields of mental challenges. Ahealo provides ePsychotherapy at an affordable price, confidential, convenient (through a web page 1-1 private video call), and at your comfortable schedule. 

Stay well.

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