Reaching your SMART goals with bipolar disorder gives you a sense of accomplishment, a feeling like no other. Living with bipolar disorder poses challenges, but you don’t have to give up your hopes and dreams, no matter how big or small. It would benefit you to learn to be flexible, patient, and realistic with yourself. Goals aren’t reached overnight. Regardless of your goal (physical, emotional, academic, professional, or personal), it is important to set yourself up for success. Using SMART goals with bipolar helps you to do that.
Creating SMART Goals with Bipolar in Mind
Success happens when we complete the smaller tasks and milestones that make up our goals. In other words, reaching a goal is a process. If your goal is to be well and live a healthy and balanced life with bipolar disorder, think about all of the small and daily tasks that contribute to wellness. SMART is an acronym that outlines a method of goal setting that makes your objectives feel attainable. Here’s what a SMART goal is:
- Specific: It’s hard to accomplish something when you don’t have a clear idea of the result. Choose a goal that is meaningful, as you will be more likely to stay motivated, and break it down. “Being well” is a terrific goal but is also very general. Let’s say that healthy sleeping habits help you to feel better. Setting the goal of sleeping for at least seven hours per night might be ideal.
- Measurable: Goals shouldn’t be arbitrary. How else will you know when to scratch it off of your list? Sleeping seven hours per night is specific, but progress might be reflected in the frequency with which you meet this goal. Before setting a goal, take a look at how often you are meeting your goal, if at all. Think about how often you would like to and make this your target. You might aim to sleep for at least seven hours per night for at least four nights per week.
- Attainable: This is an area where people tend to get stuck when setting goals for themselves. Making sure that a goal is attainable means making sure that it is achievable for you. You know yourself, your strengths and limitations better than anyone. If you find you have only been sleeping regularly for two nights per week, setting your target at six nights per week is a big leap. Be careful not to set goals that feel too far removed from what you can do. You can always adjust your targets as you start hitting them. With sleep, this might look like aiming for three nights of regular sleep per week once you’ve consistently managed two nights.
- Relevant: The things that you are working toward should be meaningful to you and benefit you in some way. If you feel like you have a handle on your sleeping patterns, focus on something else that needs improvement and is in alignment with your overall goals for wellness.
- Time-based: Goals often get neglected or wind up being a perpetual target when there is no checkpoint or finish line in sight. Making goals time-sensitive adds a sense of importance to them. You may also find that it increases accountability. Once you meet your milestones, you can evaluate whether you want to mark your goal as completed or alter it and set a new bar.
Working with SMART Goals and Bipolar
Being kind, understanding, and flexible with yourself will help you to be more successful. Periods of mania or depression may make it more challenging for you to accomplish goals. They may also change the way your goals look. All of this is realistic and okay. Take the time to self-care when you need to and keep going when you are able. Incorporate your coping skills, positive thinking, and support system when you need them. Celebrate even the smallest of successes. Each one counts.