When it comes to living a mental healthy life, setting goals can be a good way to build a strong foundation. Whether your goals inspire massive change or a small shift, setting a goal is an opportunity. I’ll be honest – I don’t always take that opportunity. Achieving goals can be hard, but creating them can be difficult too. It’s hard to try and improve on something when you aren’t quite sure how to get there. So how can we get better at setting goals if the process can leave us so confused?
When I put forth an ambitious goal, there are immediately challenges that pop up before I can even begin. If I’m lucky, I know what I’m trying to do, but struggle in figuring out how to get there. More often, what happens is that not only are the steps toward achieving that goal vague, but so is the goal itself.
Balancing mental health can be challenging. Sometimes it can feel like we’re treading water, just trying to keep ourselves afloat. If your goal is to get from one day to the next (or sometimes from moment to moment) how can you improve outside of that? Regardless of how you tackle it, it’s hard work.
When all of this swirls around in my head, it usually leads to one thing: feeling overwhelmed. I lose train of my thoughts, or I have difficulty creating any original thoughts. My intrusive thoughts can take over, or I start to feel a pounding headache. I immediately feel the impact and know that I can’t move forward in that moment, which is very frustrating.There’s a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that I often think of in moments like this: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” And even when faith is an issue – faith in something else, or even faith in ourselves – that first step is vital. Improving our mental health doesn’t always happen by leaps and bounds. Most times, it happens one step at a time. Sometimes we know what the steps are along the way but other times, it’s a mystery.
But building a strong foundation means that a setback doesn’t always been a step back. Sometimes we’re just stuck on a particular step, trying to sort out what the next move is. I like to think of setting goals in the same way. I tend to get stuck on a lot of things (mental illness can do that to a person), but I’m tired of beating myself up over it. I don’t need to figure out what works for just anyone; I need to figure out what works best for me.
However you go about your goals this week, I hope you can keep these things in mind. You are unique and special in your own way, and that means your process might look different than someone else’s. In fact, it might look different than the way you’ve done it previously. That’s okay! Each of these moments is a chance to get to know yourself better, to learn and grow as a person. And I’ll try to take those moments as often as I can.