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Setting and Achieving Goals

yogaSetting and achieving goals is a great way to take charge of your life and create the life you want. 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.

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.


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, however small.


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. Try to avoid goals that are too general that make it hard to identify what needs to be done and how.

Measurable. Ensure there is a clear way to measure your success in accomplishing your goals. How will you measure your progress toward your goals? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? How will you reward yourself?

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 that you can take one day at a time. This will help reduce feelings of being overwhelmed before you even start working toward your goals.

Realistic. Make sure the goals you set are doable. Is it possible to reach your goals considering the resources available to you?At the same time, don’t set your sights too low when you are setting goals. You want to push yourself and step outside of your comfort zone so you can achieve more than you ever thought possible.

Timely. Determine a realistic deadline to accomplish your goals and then work backward to determine a timeline for when each action step you have identified needs to be completed. You may want to use your personal calendar at StrengthofUs to do this!

Support. Let trusted family members and friends in on your efforts so they can provide you with encouragement and guidance if and when you experience challenges, including practical and psychological barriers, with reaching your goals.  Even better, see if family members or friends have similar goals so you can work together and cheer each other on. 

Track. Hold yourself accountable by tracking your progress toward each of your action steps and goals. If you are keeping a list or calendar of action steps, check off each step as you accomplish it. Try to stay on track with the timeline you have created…if you veer off course, make an alternative plan for completing your goals or reevaluate your goals.

Accomplish. As you complete each action step toward your goals, celebrate and pat yourself on the back. Celebrate with family and friends. Take time to really acknowledge what you have done. Be aware of any negative self-talk that may hurt your chances of succeeding at your goals. Also identify challenges beforehand so they do not catch you by surprise and work against you.

Get started now! The Setting Goals Work Sheet posted on the Taking Charge resource group provides additional tips and examples on setting and achieving goals and is a great tool to help you start taking charge of your life today!