At times, depression and bipolar disorder make it seem difficult to set a goal for yourself. It might feel almost impossible to think about the things that you hope for or care about. But goal-setting is an important part of wellness, no matter where you are on your path to recovery. Work on what you can when you can.

To help determine what goals you’d like to set, ask yourself:

  • What motivates me?
  • What interests me?
  • What would I do more of if I could?
  • What do I want?
  • What do I care about, or what did I care about before my illness?
  • Where do I want my life to go?
  • What brings me joy?
  • What are my dreams and hopes?

It helps to start small and work up to larger goals. You might want to begin by setting one small goal for yourself at the beginning of each day. As you become more confident, look at the different areas of your life and think about your short and long term goals.

Examples of short-term goals:

  • Be out of bed by __:00 AM.
  • Finish one household chore.
  • Call a DBSA support group.

Examples of long-term goals

  • Get training or experience for a job.
  • Change a situation, e.g. find a new place to live.
  • Build a relationship with a friend or family member.

Remember to take small steps at first. Looking at a goal such as “move to a new city” can be difficult to visualize and plan all at once. Ask yourself – what do you need to do first? What can you do now that will eventually help you reach this goal?

Wellness Goals

Two goals you might start with are getting well and staying well. Start by asking yourself these questions.

My Wellness

What am I like when I am feeling/doing well?

What are some of the things that help me maintain or regain the quality of life that I like?

What can I do to maintain my wellness?

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly

Early Warning Signs

What early warning signs of my illness have I noticed or been told about by others?

  • Feelings
  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Sensations
  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Behavior
  • Actions
  • Words

What can I do when these warning signs happen?

  • Who can help me? How can I get in touch with them? What should they say or do?
  • What are some things I can do that might help me feel better?

Crisis Plan

  • What are the signs that I am in crisis?
  • What are the signs that I need someone to take over making decisions for me and/or take me to the hospital?
  • Which person or people would I prefer help me in crisis?
  • Which medications or treatments are most helpful to me if a crisis occurs?
  • Which medications or treatments should be avoided?
  • Where would I prefer to be treated or hospitalized if that is necessary?
  • Which treatment facilities do I want to avoid?
  • Medications I am currently taking and why:
  • What can others do for me that would help reduce my symptoms or make me more comfortable?
  • How would I like to feel when I have recovered from this crisis?
  • Things I need to do for myself every day while I am recovering from a crisis.
  • Things that can wait until I feel better.

Ten Steps to Accomplishing a Goal

1. State as clearly as possible in a positive manner what it is that you want to create in your life.

  • Within the next (time frame)__________________, I choose to …

2. Be clear why you want this and how your life will be different once you achieve this goal.

  • I believe the benefits of doing this will be …
  • If I decide not to do this, it will mean…

3. Understand what you have going for you to help you achieve this goal.

    Three things that I have going for me in terms of creating the kind of future that I want are …

4. Understand the challenges that exist.

  • Three things that may keep me from creating the kind of future that I want are…

5. Be especially aware of the negative self-talk that sabotages and undermines your attempts to succeed.

  • The negative and destructive self-talk that I need to watch out for is…
  • I will fight this negative self-talk by …

6. Be clear about what you need to achieve this goal in terms of skills, resources, support systems, etc.

  • I need to learn the following skills in order to accomplish this goal…
  • I need to get these resources…
  • I need to develop these supports…

7. List the 3-5 major actions that you need to take to start moving toward this goal.

  • I need to get started by doing these things…

8. Think of ways to care for yourself as you work to achieve this goal.

  • I will take care of myself while working to create the kind of future I want by…

9. Stay focused on what you want to create, not on the difficulties you might be having.

  • I will keep myself focused on what I want to create and the benefits this will bring me by …

10. Be easy on yourself! Have fun! Enjoy it! Enjoy life!

  • I will remember to be easy on myself. Have fun! Enjoy it! I will work to enjoy life by doing these things…