Accomplishing Goals When Living With Mental Illness

April 23, 2012 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Accomplishing goals when you have a mental illness can be difficult, but learning how to accomplish goals is key to mental illness recovery. Try these tips.

This is not, in any way, a political statement but--YES, we can! Of course we can accomplish goals when living with a mental illness! Why not? We have brains that work and bodies that move. But accomplishing, or even setting goals when you live with a mental illness can be difficult. It can be difficult when we don't feel great. But we can turn this difficulty into a positive--yes--a positive experience!

The Definition of 'Goals'

Here we are again. Referring to the thesaurus for a simple word that is not simple. First, after flipping through the pages I realize just how many words define having goals. Positive and negative words. Let's start with positive definitions:

  • [to] aim for
  • [to] set in motion and find ambition
  • to be a guiding light or star (sorry, but it does state this in bold)
  • to provoke and to evoke
  • to animate and to exhilarate (this sounds lovely!)
  • to be motivated

The list goes on, but these words all have one thing in common: the absolute pursuit to reach a goal. And that's all and great and probably obvious, but reaching and accomplishing important things in life--small or large--can sometimes feel negative. Stressful.

Here are some words that you might be familiar with:

  • high-pressure
  • agitating
  • urgent; urgency!
  • [to feel] impulsive

Impulsive is the most important of these words--in my opinion. It captures the previous words and I have touched on it for this reason. But words and are just words until they are acted upon and negative feelings can spur positive actions.

Defining Goals When Living With A Mental Illness

Is not hugely different than defining goals when you do not live with a mental illness. It can just be more difficult--sometimes--but also more rewarding.

Let's use the example of a new job: If we struggle with depression, as many of us do, working consistently can be really tough. I am lucky in that I write for a living but I have had many jobs, full-time, and worked through mood changes during the years. You probably have too.

We need to have goals, all of us, in order to appreciate life. Sometimes, a goal can be as simple as leaving the house. Smiling. Eating. And that's okay. That is perfectly fine. It's progress.

Sometimes, it's larger things: finding a new home, allowing someone new into your life, and taking care of yourself.

Allow Yourself to Set and Accomplish Goals

It's not impossible. It is positive! It is an important part of our mental health recovery. First, our goals may focus on becoming well, learning to live with mental illness and accepting it is possible!

Later, goals might involve becoming part of society again. Feeling comfortable. Not alone in our struggle. As the Book of Words suggests: to aim for something.

Avoiding impulsive behavior is important as well but allows us to learn from our actions--as long as we remember that impulsive behavior can lead to negative actions, but transferring the feeling of urgency to goals we set is important.

Accomplishing goals when you live with a mental illness is important. Throw away the words and define goals yourself. Of course, there is no formula when accomplishing goals, but focusing on what you want in your life, perhaps writing down some steps, is a good place to start.

APA Reference
Jeanne, N. (2012, April 23). Accomplishing Goals When Living With Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Dawn Perry
April, 26 2012 at 10:10 am

Hi Natalie,
The audio broadcats are inspiring to me.
I have suffered from generalised anxiety and depression for over 4 years.
I have shared your blog on my facebook campaign. Thanks for your honesty and hope to see you on our page maybe one day.
Dawn and my little boy, Ethan xx

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
April, 26 2012 at 11:54 am

thank you so much for the positive feedback! I will certainly look into your page.

April, 24 2012 at 1:13 pm

As time went by the only thing I found that remembered my goals as well as would provide me cues when I couldn't remember to look at my calendar: my iPod Touch.
Between meds, sleep, and other schedules it does what case managers and peer specialists 'should' be doing, but 24/7: non-judgementally supporting me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
April, 25 2012 at 7:11 am

Hi, John:
Thanks for sharing your experience and lending advice. Support is so important, crucial in recovery.

April, 24 2012 at 7:18 am

I find that using a planner helps with setting goals, as there is a section that allows for that. Breaking the the goal into steps makes accomplishing your goals achievable, even if they are just baby steps. It can be a goal like cleaning the house and then daily steps like dusting one room on Tuesday and vacuuming on Wednesday etc. I write my small steps on my daily task list and try not to stress about not doing it since it can be put on the next day's list. Sorry about rambling on, I hope this makes sense.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
April, 24 2012 at 7:59 am

Hi, Cindy:
I agree completely! My day-timer keeps me focused. Yesterday I wrote down " go running" :) I always appreciate your comments!

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