One of the best ways to improve your mental health is to have meaningful, realistic goals. Good goals result in action. They are measurable, which means you’ll know if you did or didn’t complete them.
But most of us suck at making and keeping goals. We create vague plans to improve (e.g. “I will lose weight”). We choose goals which can’t be measured (e.g. “I will get in better shape”) or aren’t unrealistic (e.g. “I will lose 30 lbs this month”). We might also set goals that aren’t ultimately meaningful to us (e.g. “I will be thinner than my brother”). And too often we don’t make ourselves accountable to achieve our goals within a specific time period (e.g. “I will lose weight so that I have a healthier heart”).
(Does all this sound familiar? That’s because the most commonly used goal-setting framework is explained with the acronym SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-limited).
Now remember: most of us suck at making and keeping goals. Everyone has failed to achieve many of their goals. And it’s natural to wonder whether it’s even worth your time to try setting goals again if you weren’t successful in the past. We can—and will—discuss the many different ways you can approach goal setting. But today, I’d like to start with one simple question:
Do you want to be someone who coasts along without any destination in mind?
Because choosing not to have goals is a choice too. We cannot change everything, but choosing to change nothing means we’re willing to accept anything. And more likely than not, this is a recipe for disaster.