Goal Setting

I’ve had a huge problem with a lack of progress lately. I want so badly to move forward and get better, but I feel stuck. There were many times in the past that my life was in a state of chaos and I was happy just to survive. But things are more stable now and I feel like I can focus more on recovery. So it’s extra frustrating to feel like I’m just running in place and tripping over my own feet more than occasionally.

I’ve been setting a lot of goals and not accomplishing them. That might not make sense to other people since I’m saying I want to make progress, but I still lack the motivation, energy, and in some cases, ability to meet those goals. Mental illness does that. I can tell myself, “Okay, tomorrow I’m going to do a mindfulness exercise, go the whole day without junk food, get 10,000 steps on my Fitbit, and use a coping skill when I get upset.” But maybe that night I can’t sleep because I’m anxious, so the next morning I’m groggy and my head hurts from irritated sinuses. I don’t have time to eat before I leave for work so part of the way through the day I buy junk food from a carryout to eat for lunch. When I get home from work I’m worn out and overstimulated from being “on” and upbeat all day and I don’t feel like exercising. Plus my head still hurts. So I try a mindfulness exercise and end up rage crying because I can’t get my thoughts to shut up for 3 minutes. Then I go to bed knowing that I don’t have any healthy food in the house for tomorrow because I felt too shitty that day to go shopping and I’m starting over with the same goals tomorrow, only grocery shopping is added on top of it.

That’s how it’s been going lately. So I’ve decided to set really small goals (like laughably small) and very slowly increase them. I made a list of 9 daily goals for the next seven days. I’ll get one point for each goal each day, so after seven days the total points possible will be 63. If I get 59/63 points (which would be 93%) at the end of 7 days, I will get $5 to put toward whatever. If I don’t get 59 points the first 7 days, I have to keep going until I get 59 points in a 7 day period.

My 9 goals for the next 7 days (or longer if necessary) are:
1. Drink 1 bottle of water.
2. Take meds.
3. Get 7000 steps on Fitbit.
4. Don’t spend money on food unless it’s from the grocery store.
5. Do one CBT or DBT exercise.
6. Do one positive thing/commit to valued action.
7. Fifteen crunches
8. Fifteen bicycles
9. 10 second plank

I realize those goals may seem feeble to some of you, but I’ve got to start small at this point. I want to do more than get home and collapse, and I think I’m setting myself up for failure by expecting too much. Also, I enjoy very clear-cut, quantifiable goals so I think this method will encourage me to continue.

I got all my points for April 1. Let’s see how the next 6 days go!


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