Everyone knows the process of making New Year’s resolutions and goals, for better or for worse. Many people set well-intentioned goals about losing weight, improving organization, quitting drinking or smoking, or improving finances, but what about goals for mental health? Simply stating “I want to be happier” isn’t going to enhance your mental health, but setting specific and attainable goals can. Plus, working toward your mental health goals can help you achieve your other New Year’s resolutions more easily. Keep reading to learn more about setting and achieving goals as well as specific mental health goals to set in 2023.
What are goals?
Before you start setting goals for the new year, you should know what they are and why they are important. Goals are, by definition, the desired result of a person’s effort. Creating goals is a way to channel your intentions and focus on things you want to get done, as well as things you want to focus on for yourself, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Accomplishing goals means enjoying rewards
Having goals is a way of ensuring that you’re taking care of yourself (your needs and desires) in a way that can feel fun or exciting. Think about setting goals for the future and what the result would be if you accomplish them. Most goals are met with some sort of reward, whether added to the goal or just the consequence of completing it. Imagine yourself enjoying the benefits of those rewards.
For example, say you want to write in your journal for two straight months to gain better insight into your thought processes. By completing this goal, you:
- experience the positive mental health effects of having journaled on a daily basis.
- could treat yourself to a pre-determined reward you set for yourself, like enjoying your favorite dessert that you don’t get very often.
Creating motivating rewards is a strong method to help you accomplish your goals, and then the acts themselves are more enjoyable rather than feeling like a chore.
Great start! Learn more about journaling methods for mental health here.
How to set goals
When it comes time to set goals, we appreciate the SMART goals method. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. You want each goal you create to incorporate each SMART component, so ask yourself these questions as you sit down to set them:
- Is my goal specific or too vague?
- How will I measure my progress?
- Is the goal achievable and realistic?
- Is the goal relevant to my values and life ambitions?
- What is the target date to reach this goal?
This method helps you to set intentional and realistic goals. As you write your goals down in a notebook, journal, or notes app, be sure to incorporate the answers to the above questions to make them even stronger.
Examples of mental health goals
Now that we understand the basics of goals and goal setting, let’s go over examples of habit- and mission-oriented goals that you can set in 2023 to improve your mental health.
Many goals are habit-based, and could look something like this:
- I will write in my journal for 14 days straight.
- I will call a specific friend to catch up with every Thursday.
- I will create and stick to a weeknight bedtime routine.
- I will wake up at 6:30 every weekday morning.
- I will do yoga every day.
- I will do deep breathing exercises every time I start to feel anxious.
Determine what habits you want to incorporate into your life to best improve your mental health. Then, create your goals based on the SMART method. For creating deadlines, you can set them for as far out as you like, or you can make them reoccurring. For example, you could create a deadline to practice yoga X amount of times this month, and then set the same or a new goal for the next.
Mission-oriented goals are more broad and complex compared to habit-oriented goals. Examples of mission-oriented mental health goals are:
- I will get my PHQ-9 score below 5.
- I will set boundaries in my professional and personal relationships.
- I will establish coping skills for my depression and anxiety.
- I will get a customized treatment plan from Mindful Health Solutions.
These types of goals usually require multiple steps, and they can be easier to tackle if you break down each goal into smaller tasks.
The essential part of setting mental health goals for 2023 is to make ones that are tailored to you, your needs, your values, and that push you to be your best self. Having goals in place is an easy way to motivate your own self-care. Need help setting and maintaining mental health goals? Our psychotherapists would love to support you through either in-person or virtual visits. Connect with us today to get the help you deserve.