Why Goal Setting is Essential for Your Mental Health

Goal Setting 2018

Author: Janine Canaday, LPC, LCPC

What happened to 2018? Just like that…..it has come to an end. The wins and losses throughout the year are in the books. For some, big decisions were made, lives were improved and the year finished out stronger than where they started. For others, the year may have left them feeling hurt, confused or defeated. How did you finish? It is important to take time to reflect on what goals were accomplished and which goals were neglected. The new year usually represents “new beginnings” and is a way to create a fresh start. Hitting the reset button is one way to jumpstart a new and exciting journey of mental health and wellness.

The Secret Sauce

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be more productive and appear to be hitting the ball out of the park with their goals? What is the secret? What we know to be true about setting goals is that it provides a sense of direction and purpose. Clearly defined goals are a proven source of motivation and guide the decisions or choices that we make in life. They usually represent a window into what we value most in life and where we want to spend most of our time or energy. When you feel more certain about what you want to do in life, the experiences you want to have and the places you want to go, your overall mood is elevated. You will start to feel a sense of achievement, validation for your purpose, and meaning towards your life’s mission. Belief in yourself will get stronger and confidence in your ability to accomplish anything will reach new heights. You will start to see yourself and your potential in ways that maybe you never once imagined. This is the power of setting goals.

The 5 Step System

You cannot just stop there. Having a powerful system in place will exponentially increase your chances of success with your goals. Antoine de Saint-Exupery once said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” While dreaming is a great way to visualize the end result that you want to achieve, your goal will stay a dream if you do not prepare a plan. Develop a plan for each goal that you identify. Be very clear and specific on the steps that you will need to take to execute each plan. Prioritize your goals by identifying which goals require more immediate attention than others. Develop a timeline in which you will accomplish each goal and corresponding steps of the plan to hold yourself accountable. When you start winning at completing the small steps of your plan, you will feel more motivated to keep going. Take a moment to celebrate the small victories. The motivation can have a positive ripple effect in all areas of your life including your goals set for career, health, family, leisure time, finances, education, relationships, spiritual development and much more. Remember these 5 important steps to help improve your overall mental health and wellness for 2019:

1. Visualize Where You See Yourself in the Future
2. Write Down a List of Clear and Specific Goals Based on What You Visualized
3. Create A Plan for Each Goal
4. Prioritize Your Goals to Build a Timeline
5. Take Action!

Be intentional about taking action. Be clear and specific about your goals and plan. Define a timeline to maintain accountability. Be consistent. When your goals are too vague and not clearly defined, you may find yourself experiencing frustration, anxiety or sadness as a result of not being able to achieve them in the way that you desire.

Scientific research tells us that when you set attainable goals and reach them, your mind releases the “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. Boost your dopamine levels by simply checking off or crossing through each goal that you complete. Not only will your mental health be impacted in a positive way, but you will start to see growth and development in other areas enhancing your overall quality of life. Goal setting is a necessary part of life!

Are you ready to start 2019 off strong?

If you find yourself experiencing challenges with managing day to day life and/or struggling with symptoms of depression, anxiety or low-esteem, please contact me today for support.

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