Look to the future

Look to the future: how goal setting can boost your mental wellbeing

Life can get monotonous sometimes. You might feel like you’re living the same day over and over but change seems too hard, too distant or too much work. If you find yourself in this state of mind, goal setting can help renew your purpose – and improve your mental health.

Goals can be steps on the road to recovery

Every goal you set and achieve improves your self esteem and sense of purpose. Getting started can be simple if you choose small, short-term goals to begin with.

Remember: if you’re thinking about running a marathon but you’ve never even run around the block, it might not seem achievable.

Start off with little things around the house: cleaning the bathroom, keeping a plant alive, preparing a meal for loved ones. These small things grow into bigger things and, before you know it, you’re running marathons (if that’s what you want to do!).

Follow your heart, guided by your values

Goals are deeply personal. Just like our values, they differ from person to person and might relate to our morals, spiritual beliefs, relationships or priorities in life.

If you’re at a stage in life where you are focused on your career, your goals might be related to work. If you’re in a stage where community connectedness is important to you, you might set goals relating to helping others.

You don’t have to have just one goal, either. A few different goals across a few different areas that are important to you can help you to keep making progress even when one goal area might be facing setbacks.

Be specific and set yourself up for success

Ask yourself: how will I know if I have achieved my goal? If you can’t answer that question quickly and easily, you might need to make your goal more specific.

A goal that isn’t quite specific enough is hard to work towards and maintain because you don’t have a clear vision of success.

An example of a goal that isn’t clear might be ‘I want to be healthier.’ What does health look like to you? How will you know you have become healthier?

Specific goals are clear and measurable. These include things like:

  • I want to learn a new song on the guitar
  • I want to walk for 30 minutes, at least three times a week
  • I want to spend more time with my family
  • I want to start volunteering in my community
  • I want to quit smoking

The six stages of change

Changing your behaviour or mindset takes time and intention. Be kind to yourself as you move through each goal, and remember the six stages of change:

  1. Pre-contemplation (I can’t). In this stage, you might know there is something you want to change but you don’t feel like you are able to.
  2. Contemplation (I may). You know there is a problem and begin to think about a different way of living.
  3. Preparation (I will). You begin to explore options to help you achieve the change you want.
  4. Action (I am). You commit to your goal, get support and begin acting on your plans.
  5. Maintenance (I am still). You continue with your efforts and remain committed.
  6. Termination or Relapse (I have and I might). Ultimately, you achieve and maintain your goal or you face setbacks. Either is natural and normal. What is important is to maintain hope and keep trying.

Reach out for support

Just like physical illnesses, the treatment and specialist care a person might need for one mental illness may not be suited to the next person.

As the largest private provider of mental health care in Australia, we are dedicated to making a real difference in the lives of those we treat, with whatever pathway they need.

We offer a range of services designed to support people experiencing mental health issues associated with financial stress, including anxiety, depression, and a wide range of other conditions.

We encourage you to reach out to our expert team who can assist you in finding the right avenue for your mental health care journey.