Depression and Setting Goals

Setting goals and targets when having depression

Two of the most devastating aspects of depression are the loss of motivation and the despair. It takes energy and drive even to think of identifying goals and setting targets to achieve them when you are feeling depressed. However, as soon as you feel able, this step is a necessary part of recovery and an essential element of living with the hazard of recurrent depression.

Buy a diary or an exercise book and note your ambitions in the three areas of your life. No matter how far fetched something seems, write it down. You can consider later whether your choices are realistic. Each time you add something to the book, date it.

All ambitions and achievements are made up of small but significant steps. To take the first step, you need to identify your ambitions. Then you need to identify the steps required to bring you closer to your ambition. Let’s say you want to learn to play the piano. You will need a piano, music books and a teacher. The cheapest way to go about this is to contact your local adult education institute and enroll for a suitable course. Another way would be to find a private teacher. You can find one through local advertisements, the Yellow Pages or by word of mouth. You can use the same sorts of methods for finding out about any activity.

As another example, let’s say that you wish to lose weight. There are two rules: eat smaller amounts of less fattening foods and exercise more.

Being realistic when setting goals
It is important that your ambitions are realistic. A 40-year-old woman is unlikely to become a supermodel and a 40-year-old man even less likely to become a football star. It is also important to remember that depression is a normal response to a sad life event. What is crucial is the severity, duration, degree of disablement and to what extent your behavior is affected: it is when depression is severe, lengthy and prevents you from fully functioning that you need treatment.

Setting achievable goals
When you have decided on a realistic goal, break it down into a series of smaller goals to be achieved in stages.

  • Whether you want to paint a room or write a novel, start with a plan.
  • Divide the task into smaller steps – doors, ceiling, walls and windows or pages and chapters.
  • Reward yourself as each step is accomplished.

Looking back at your goals

  • Do you feel that you have a good balance of work and pleasure in your life? What do you wish to achieve in your work life? Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
  • What do you wish to achieve emotionally, spiritually and materially for your family and home?
  • What are the activities on which you would like to spend time? For example, reading, singing, going to the cinema, picture framing, dance, your favorite sport, walking.

Key Facts: Check your diary or notebook every few days to make sure that you are on target for realizing your ambitions. On occasions when you feel really awful, don’t get up. Staying in bed now and again will do you good. You can realize many of your ambitions. Take the first steps now. Achieving any step towards realizing your ambitions, however small, is another step towards recovery.