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Taking Charge of your Life: 5 Steps to Reach your Goals

Setting and achieving goals is a great way to take charge of your life and create the life you want. Thinking about your dreams, goals and future can play a huge role in moving forward in your life. Reaching a goal can boost your self-esteem, make you feel stronger, create a sense of accomplishment and contribute to your overall happiness—it doesn’t get much better than that! 

Remember that living with a mental health condition does not destroy your future or your dreams. You can still live a successful and happy life. In fact, living with a mental health condition may even provide you with skills, strengths and talents you would not otherwise have had. 

1. Brainstorm. 

Think about what will make you happy and what you want to accomplish in your life. Areas to focus on can include personal qualities, relationships, health, interests, attitudes and related areas. Try to come up with a good mix of short-term and long-term goals so you are consistently accomplishing your aspirations. This will keep you feeling motivated in working toward your bigger goals.


2. Focus. 

Once you have a list of goals, identify a few short-term and long-term goals you would like to focus on first. It may be helpful to start small and work up to larger goals. To increase your chances of success at achieving your goals, focus on SMART goals. SMART goals are:


  • Specific. Focus on goals that are detailed and specific. Avoid making goals that are too general because it will make it hard to identify what needs to be done.


  • Measurable. Ensure there is a clear way to measure your success in accomplishing your goals.


  • Actionable. Identify a clear series of actions steps you will need to take to accomplish your goals. What can you do now that will help you reach your goals? It is important to break down your goals into smaller, manageable steps so that you can make a plan.


  • Realistic. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone but make sure the goals you set are doable.  Identify potential challenges in the planning process.


  • Timely. Pick a deadline and stick with it!  Make a plan, put in your calendar, and get started! You can even use your personal calendar at StrengthofUs to do this!


3. Support. 

Let trusted family members and friends in on your efforts so they can provide you with encouragement and guidance.  Telling other people about your goals helps keep you motivated and accountable. You may even want to consider developing an informal support group in person or online with others who are trying to reach the same goals as you. Feel free to share your goals in your StrengthofUs profile to connect with other young adults with similar aspirations.


4. Track. 

Hold yourself responsible by tracking your progress toward each of your action steps and goals. Nothing is more satisfying than checking off something on a to-do list. Stay on track with the timeline you have created…if you veer off course, take the time to make an alternative plan for completing your goals or reevaluate your goals. There are several Web sites available to help you keep track of your progress for free, including and

5. Accomplish. 

As you complete each action step toward your goals, pat yourself on the back. Celebrate with family and friends. Take time to really acknowledge what you have done. Once you have succeeded in reaching your goals, return to your list of brainstormed goals and choose new one to achieve!


Check out these basic tips to setting and achieving goals and then access the Setting Goals Work Sheet posted in the Taking Charge resource group to create your own goals.