Goal Setting

We all have heard the importance of setting goals, written, clear and concise goals.  And yet we will still don’t do it for ourselves or the people we work with.

But if you are working with someone with mental health issues or any barriers to daily living, goals are even more so important.

See my worksheet at the end of the post to download.

Step 1: Brain Dump

Starting off, it is important to first have a brain dump of all the things you would like to work on.  Big or small, easy to complete or large audacious goals, just get everything down onto paper.

On the worksheet at the bottom of this post there are 5 large categories of goals.   Here are examples of each, but make sure you get creative and try and find what you will be motivated by short term and long term.

  • Financial – ie. saving a certain amount of money, repaying a debt, saving for a specific purchase like a vacation etc.
  • Spiritual – ie. faith based goals or can be whatever spirituality means to you, such as spending more time in nature, meditating, learning about new religions etc.
  • Mental – ie. include getting a counsellor, journaling, self care practices, recreational activities, seeing a doctor about medication (or taking your medication as prescribed), mindfulness, meditation, talking about your mental health, anything that you find helps your mental health
  • Physical – ie. spending time doing a physical activity of your choice (ie. running, swimming, weight lifting) and also can be losing or gaining weight, seeing a doctor, eating 1 vegetable per day, drinking more water etc.
  • Relational – ie. visiting with a friend 1 per week, reconnecting with someone from your past, disconnecting from a toxic relationship etc.

If you can’t think of something for every category, then no worries, just leave it blank or cross it off.  The 5 categories are only provided to get you thinking.  There are no rules on how many ideas of goals you have to have when you are brainstorming. 

Step 2: Important Aspects of Goal Setting

Think through these 4 important aspects of setting a goal

  1. Break old patterns – it doesn’t matter who you are or the struggles you face, we all can be humbled by the fact that we all have ways of doing things that are not helpful.  Give some thought as to what has worked well for you in the past and what hasn’t worked well for you.
  2. Change what’s not working – give some serious thought to what roadblocks you are finding are continually getting in your way, what have you tried before that has worked when you have achieved your goals.  But also thinking about maybe some of the issues you have (maybe you need more accountability or someone to cheer you on when you are doubting your goals etc.)
  3. Be accountable – whether this is to yourself, have a buddy to share the process with, whatever you think will work best for you.
  4. Take action – This is the most important part, you now are going to set some goals and you need to start on them right away or set a date for when you will start them.  If your goal depends on someone else to do something first, then need to rethink your goal.  The best goals allow for you to start small and start right away.  No time like the present!

Now taking all your ideas you came up with in the brain dump, and these 4 important goal setting objectives, you are ready for the next step.

Step 3: What I want to accomplish first

Now for the fun part! 

Look through all the goals you have brainstormed and pick 2 or 3 (3 at the very most).  These should be goals that get you excited to start on or maybe even scare you a bit.

Try to pick goals that are small and you can accomplish in 3 months or less.  If you now need to create an entire road map of steps needed to get to that goal, then break it down into 3 or 4 sub goals and start with the first sub goal.

When you have your 2-3 goals written down, take a look at them and make sure you add the following:

  • Deadline: every goal should have a deadline.  If you can’t create a deadline for your goal then it is not specific enough.  For example, if your goal is to: “be a better parent”, then that is too broad and you can’t measure that or set a deadline.  Instead, look at what actions are important to you that will add up to you being a better parent, in this example.  For example, a more concrete goal could be for a parent with multiple children “starting on Saturday, I will spend 30 minutes alone with each child per week”

Step 4: Start working!

Now you get to work!

If you are helping someone else with their goals, make sure these goals are a part of every meeting’s conversation and how the work you are doing with them is working towards this goal.

If you are setting goals for yourself, share these goals with a friend or partner, and maybe you can help each other work towards them and be more accountable.

Post your goals somewhere you will see them a lot.  Somewhere you can add notes as you go and praise yourself for all the work you do towards them.

Download the Worksheet here:

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