The key to effective goal setting is to establish goals that are clear, concrete, manageable, and have a relatively short-term time frame. Of course, you can have a long-term goal of overcoming depression, but you need to lay out the steps of how you’re going to get there – these are your short-term goals. Don’t try to fix everything overnight – focus on only a few key areas each month. This helps lock into place new, healthy habits and patterns.
Once you’ve set your goals and laid out how you are going to tackle them, it’s important to log your activity. This is as much about keeping yourself honest regarding whether you are actually putting in the effort to meet your goals, as it is about tracking your progress.
Keep in mind that patience and persistence are necessary, as it can take a few weeks before you see results.
Get started with our Goal Setting and Logging Sheet.
Keeping up the activity to meet your goals can be tough, especially when you’re first starting to make new changes in your life. Staying motivated to stick to your game plan is crucial. Below, we offer some tips on how to keep the ship moving forward.
Remember, when you’re depressed you are not at 100%, so be realistic about what you can accomplish and keep your goals flexible. When you sprain a knee you don’t try sprinting the next day. It’s the same when you’re dealing with depression – start slow and don’t get discouraged if it takes time to see results.
Keep it feasible
Keep your goals and related activities within the realm of possibility for you. For example, if one of your goals is to start running, and you know that you are not a morning person, don’t plan to make your runs in the morning. Set yourself up for success, not failure.
Telling friends and family about your goals can help keep you on target with your goals – it makes you accountable to more than just yourself. Friends and family can also be valuable and objective sources of feedback on the progress you’re making. Signing up for a team activity or class can also be a great way to make yourself accountable to others.
Find a source of inspiration
Being well for someone you love, or healthy enough to reach for larger life goals can help you stay focused on the future and feeling better to enjoy it.
Don't wait till you 'feel like it'
If you’ve tried different ways to stay motivated to keep working on your goals, and nothing seems to do the trick, you may just have to buckle down, put in the hard work, and get the job done. Don’t wait till you feel like it or until you have more energy – just do it. Remind yourself that you’ll feel better afterward and that your health is worth the effort.
Give yourself credit
Acknowledge what you do accomplish. If you get half of your goal done, that’s still half. Just getting out of bed can be tough when you’re fighting depression. Expect for there to ups and downs, building your strength and health back will take time and effort.