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Goals are important in order to function in this life, and everyone uses them, even if not consciously.

A to-do list is a goal.  A thought about tomorrow’s day while laying in bed at night is another goal.  Sometimes just getting up in the morning can be a goal – especially to those of us who deal with depression or other mental health difficulties.

When I was working and out in the world, I had many goals.  These included goals related to work, social activities, relationships, self-growth and my health, among other things.

Sometimes they were as simple as:

  • Pick up package
  • Get to work on time today
  • Only two hours to go until the end of shift – I can make it!

Other times they were more far-reaching and daunting:

  • Ask for a raise at work
  • Save enough money to take a real vacation
  • Compliment myself three times a day

Since I’ve been home, living with depression and other health concerns, my goals have often been very simple and include:

  • Get dressed today
  • Brush my teeth
  • Have a shower

These might confuse people who haven’t dealt with chronic mental and physical health concerns, but they are old hat to those of us who do.

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It can be humiliating to admit I haven’t changed my clothes in days, let alone showered in a week or two (in a recent post, I talked about not showering for more than a month).  But I think it’s important to bring awareness to these daily challenges, so that we reduce the impact of self-shaming.  It’s incredible how powerful shame can be – to even cause depression to spiral even lower – ending up creating even more shame.

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Most important, to those of you who struggle:  daily goals can help us, especially accountable goals.  That means telling someone – anyone – your goal.  Here are some ideas:

  • a friend, spouse, relative (in person, or even an email)
  • a group like reddit’s Get Displined
  • leaving an anonymous note anywhere (a coffee shop, perhaps)
  • writing an comment on a blog (mine, for instance!), even if it’s anonymous

If we are accountable for our goals, it creates more enthusiasm, energy and passion for the task.  Keep in mind, however, the goals must be attainable, and therefore we should be very careful not to set ourselves up for failure.  Did you know that one of the most common traits of those with mental health difficulties is to self-sabotage?

Therefore, it’s important to measure your goals and be sure you can reach them.  And, realize that no goal is too small: if you are having problems doing something daily, then setting a goal for that behaviour is to be rewarded, not discouraged.

checklist-1454170_640Today my goals are:

  1. Eat three well-balanced meals
  2. Brush my teeth
  3. Pet one of my cats for ten minutes

What are your goals for the day?  Leave a comment and let me know.

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