The information and tips below are from the amazing Dr. Sasha Heinz. She has a PhD in psychology and helps people change their behaviors and function more optimally! Visit her website and read her about me story. I think a lot of us (including myself!) can relate to her upbringing. She was recently a guest on a webinar I attended, so the below information is based on the notes I took during the session.
A big piece of our wellbeing is ACHIEVEMENT. Humans are goal directed organisms. We like to complete goals no matter how small, such as make breakfast. This really resonated with me. Anyone else like to make to-do lists just so you can check them off? No matter how small the items are, I feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment that boosts my mood and how happy I feel.
Categorize goals into small, medium, and large goals. Again, make breakfast can be a goal. The word goal doesn’t mean it can only be something huge that’s going to be really difficult and take a lot of time to achieve. Goal setting is good for your mental health because of that sense of achievement that you get. Do something that has an end result – could be knitting a pot holder or doing a puzzle. These types of activities that you can set a goal to – knit the pot holder, finish the puzzle – are better (especially during times of crisis like a global pandemic) than doing open ended activities such as sitting on the couch. When you’re sitting on the couch, you’re much more likely to be worrying and ruminating bad thoughts than if your energy is directed towards completing something. Not saying you should never sit on the couch or binge watch Netflix, just be mindful of how much time you’re spending doing these more open ended activities.
Let’s go back to the small, medium and large goals again. Let’s say small is make breakfast today, medium is write your first article on LinkedIn and large is complete a Master’s Degree. Since there are varying levels, Dr Sasha encourages us to go crazy with goal setting! Set all kinds of goals. BUT if you do that, you’ll need to learn how to manage your emotions and feelings that go along with those goals. For example, you may feel disappointment or embarrassment for not completing something, or you may not feel motivated to do something, but those feelings are on YOU to manage. Don’t ruminate in embarrassment or disappointment, just keep going!
When you set a big goal, write down why it may not work out, why it’s going to be hard, what’s going to suck and then SOLVE for that! Give yourself solutions ahead of time to the excuses you know you’ll make later on. I personally loved this one too. I’m already someone who loves to plan and plan ahead, so taking the time to think about these challenges upfront will cut down on the amount of difficult feelings later. Since I already know how I’m going to handle them!
More on managing feelings.. motivation for example is an emotion. We control emotions with our thoughts. So if you don’t feel motivated to do something, you have to change your thinking. Along these lines, procrastination isn’t a behavioral problem, it’s an emotional processing problem. The reason you’re procrastinating is because you’re thinking of some feeling you are anticipating having – the task is going to be hard, unpleasant, etc. So if you can learn how to recognize your thoughts and change them, it’s easier to keep going.
We keep hearing the term “uncertain times” right now in relation to COVID-19. Dr. Sasha talked about how life is ALWAYS uncertain and always changing, so COVID-19 isn’t a reason to put goals off. This is SO TRUE. Even in everyday life before COVID, we could get let go from our jobs unexpectedly, we could receive unpleasant news about our health, etc. Still give yourself that feeling of achievement that’s good for your wellbeing by setting goals. She went on to say, for those who may have been recently laid off due to COVID-19, now is a good time to set goals when it comes to skill building and learning. Remember these don’t have to be huge! If you want to take this time to get a degree or certification, that’s great! If you want to take this time to read a book or take a LinkedIn learning course, that’s great too. No matter how big or small, set a goal to skill build. Forward momentum will keep you going so you’re ready when this passes.
Other things mentioned:
Your goals need to be of service to who you really want to be and be rooted in your values. Then you are more likely to follow through on them.
Think, feel and do on purpose. Live your life on purpose and by design. Love this!
If you read to the end of this, send me a message and let me know what your favorite part was! This information really helped me to think differently. I realized how important goal setting is, especially during this difficult time, to keep momentum going and contribute to my overall wellbeing!