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As March 2021 begins, you might be feeling the deflation that comes with already failing to achieve the lofty New Year’s resolutions you set for yourself on the first day of January. 

If this is the case, you’re definitely not alone. So often we start the year with good intentions, but before long we fall back into the patterns of old behaviours and get stuck in a cycle of negative thinking.

When struggling with mental illness, it can be even harder to create a vision for your life and stick to it. When we talk about a vision, we mean a place where you want to see yourself in the future. But this can be hard when you feel limited by your illness and feel it entwined with your identity.

But clinical studies have shown that having a vision for your life is an important factor for recovery and maintaining wellness.

Often when we think about a vision for the future, we are fairly abstract in our approach. For example, “I want to be happy” or “I will live a life of integrity”.

But if we can create a more specific vision and put goals in place to achieve it, we’re more likely to see it through.

Why create a vision?

The idea of creating a life vision can be hard. It can come with drawbacks such as the responsibility involved, your resistance to change, and a feeling of loss if it means making major life changes.

But done well, a vision can help you create a more purposeful life, motivate you to action, and provide a basis for making decisions.

Humans are able to do one thing better than any other species on this planet. We are able to adapt to situations to survive. Knowing that you have the capacity to change can be one of the steps towards changing.

Remember. Going back into old behaviours and for getting stuck in the same negative cycle of thoughts and feelings might give you short term relief, but it has long term consequences.

Where to start?

When thinking about a vision for your future, here are some ideas to get your motivation flowing. Consider:

  • What kind of life do you want to create?
  • If you suddenly had the same energy you did wen you were a kid and the journey had just begun, what would you do?
  • What would motivate you to get up early in the morning?
  • If you had no fear, what would you do in your life?
  • What challenges would you like to overcome?
  • How do you want to improve your life and the lives or others?
  • What do you want to give, create, be, feel or share?

Setting goals

Now that you’ve established your vision, it’s time to set goals. These should be consistent with your vision, and by using the SMART acronym, you can keep focused on achieving them.

  • Specific: Make your goals as specific as possible.
  • Measurable: Measurable goals mean you can monitor your progress and know when the goal has been reached.
  • Achievable: Make sure the goal is within your capacity, fits with your current commitments and will maintain your interest. 
  • Relevant: Ensure the goal first with your values and life vision.
  • Time-framed: Set boundaries around the start and finish of the goal.

Be flexible with your goals – you should allow for contingencies and change. Also break them down into months, rather than aiming for a whole year, so that you can keep them realistic.

For example, a non-SMART goal might be: “I want to ride my bike more”.

A SMART version of this could be: “By the end of the month, I want to be able to ride my bike a distance of one kilometer from my home.”

Enjoy the journey

Remember, it’s the journey, not the end destination that counts. Hopefully setting a vision and some goals will give you the starting blogs to lead to a better personal, social and professional life. The life you want.

As you start to achieve goals, you’ll enjoy the motivation that comes from achievement, and find more of a zest for life. Every step you take is a step towards creating better mental wellness and a fulfilling life.

If you’d like any assistance or support with setting your life’s vision and goals, contact Dr Olga Lavalle & Associates to schedule an appointment with clinical psychologist Ryan Spencer.