How to Set Mental Health Goals for 2021
With the end of 2020 approaching, you might be thinking about resolutions you want to make for the new year. Instead of making resolutions, consider focusing on creating goals that involve intention setting, planning and taking realistic action. Goals are more specific efforts to ensure that we can make positive changes for ourselves for the new year and beyond. While many people may automatically think about goals they can make focused on their careers or their finances, it also is good to make mental health goals. These kind of goals have the potential to make a significant impact on all areas of our lives.
The Importance of Goal Setting
There are many benefits we can gain from goal setting. People who set goals tend to have higher self-motivation, self-esteem, independence and confidence. Having goals is important because it gives us a sense of purpose and something to strive for. Good goals also involve our values and ensure that we are challenging ourselves to uphold them. When it comes to our mental health, it is especially important to set goals for ourselves in this area. By striving to improve our mental wellbeing, we come closer and closer to self-fulfillment (which can allow us to flourish in our relationships, school, careers, and hobbies). We encourage everyone to set specific mental health goals for themselves for the new year.
Examples of Mental Health Goals
Your goals should be unique to you and your current needs. However, here are some examples of good mental health goals that you can set for 2021:
- To practice on self-love and self-compassion
- Take care of and be kind to your body
- Make time for mindfulness
- Find new ways to manage stress, anxiety or depression
- Seek support (from friends and family or by starting therapy)
- Set boundaries and establish when to say “yes” and when to say “no”
- Pay attention to and respect your feelings
How to Set Mental Health Goals
Identify Your “Why”
Before beginning to follow through with your goals, consider the “why” or the real reason behind them. We should avoid making goals based on what someone else is telling us or what society is telling us. Instead, our goals should be personal. What works for others may not work for you and vice versa. They should be rooted in our values and what we truly want for ourselves, especially when it comes to our own mental health.
Make SMART-ER Goals
You may already be familiar with SMART goals. These goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. It’s a tried and true formula for creating successful goals. There are two other components that we might also consider when setting our goals, making them SMART-ER. In addition to the other criteria, these goals are also evaluative and ethical, as well as rewarding. With the E and R addition, our goals should align with our personal values and the end result of them should bring us a feeling of accomplishment or a reward. Setting SMART-ER mental health goals will allow us to feel motivated and fulfilled by our intentions for improving our wellbeing.
Acknowledge That It Will Take Time
It’s important to recognize that it takes time to accomplish our goals. They aren’t supposed to be easy. We can expect ourselves to slip up or begin to doubt ourselves, and that’s normal. If things really aren’t working, we may have to pause and readjust our goals all together, but that’s perfectly okay. What matters is that we acknowledge our goals are a journey, while still holding ourselves accountable to attend to them. It’s also important to remember to take care of our mental health throughout the process, in whatever way works for us.
Set a Range of Short-Term and Long-Term Goals
Sometimes big goals can easily become overwhelming. It helps to break down long-term goals into more manageable, short-term goals if we need to. Having short-term goals for each day, each week and each month, will enhance our motivation and allow us to slowly make progress towards our larger, year-long goals. This way, we won’t feel pressured to make huge, sometimes daunting changes all at once.
Setting goals for the new year that focus on our mental health can be incredibly beneficial for us. Once we make these type of goals, we can also begin shaping our larger goals for other aspects of our lives. Begin making these goals for yourself now and, above all, remember to be kind to yourself throughout the process. Take note of the small victories and reward yourself along the way for how far you’ve come!