Goal Setting Part One: Setting a Goal

  • Along with biology: an underlying reason a lot of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia might not set goals is because their "pre-morbid" level of functioning wasn't high to begin with.


    If you have little experience at social events, with "going for the gold" on a sports team or in another traditional arena like dating or relating, it will likely be harder to do these things post-illness.


    Fortunately (and the goal-setting research study fails to list this) treatment already exists for helping patients set and achieve goals.  See my SharePosts on Social Skills Training and Cognitive Remediation.  My SharePost on Recovery Strategies: Getting Credentials is worth a read too.

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    A person sets a goal because the activity fills a need in their life.  To increase the chance of successful completion, a goal must be self-directed and personally meaningful: an objective the person chooses as the most compelling option among available alternatives.


    A goal needs to be S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific.


    Here I will talk about how to combat the lack of motivation indicated in the research study I reported on this month.


    It helps to put structure in your day.  Break things down into smaller, more manageable sections or sub-goals.  Break the day into time zones: to use the time of day that you're most energetic and productive to start an activity. 


    If it's harder to start with a bigger challenge, do the things you know you can get done first to reward yourself and pump yourself up for the next activity


    At the start, it can be as simple as doing two things every day: one task in the morning and the second task in the afternoon.  Julie Morgenstern's latest edition of her classic book Time Management from the Inside Out can be a useful read for those of us who are able to take the next harder steps.


    There's one foolproof way to set and achieve a goal: write it down, state your intention on paper so it doesn't slip out of your head.  List each action step you need to take to cross the goal off as completed.  Re-read your goal as often as you need to and be willing to enlist a goals buddy to help you.


    Breaking the big objective into smaller, more manageable sections or sub-goals is a form of compartmentalizing and it can be helpful to focus on one thing at a time.  Do only what you need to do to achieve the goal that is the most important to you.  You might want to suspend the "extracurricular" activities and focus on your goal with a one-track mind.


    If you hit a plateau, take a break: go for a walk, have a piece of fruit, call a person for support, take a nap.  Make this kind of mental  pit-stop so you can rest and refuel for the continued challenge ahead.


    I'm going to end part one here with the secret to goal-setting success: set one primary goal at a time.  Once you achieve this, set another goal.  And so on.


    The achievement of one goal can be a springboard to achieving other goals and better things in your life.  If you succeed at one thing, it gives you the confidence to try something else.


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    I will talk next in part two of this goal-setting series about follow-through. 


    Follow-through is the difference between achieving a goal and quitting before you get there.  Often, a lack of follow-through occurs because a person is not invested in the outcome (it's a goal another person imposed on him or her) or the original goal fails to hold interest for the person.  Setting a goal or engaging in any kind of activity simply because you think it's something you're supposed to want or to do is a recipe for failure.


    The goal is to do what gives you joy and satisfaction.  And while I might not find joy and satisfaction in watching any kind of TV at all, I understand that other people are motivated to engage in different activities to achieve pleasure.


    I welcome your comments on what I've written here.

Published On: August 25, 2014