Goal Setting and Activity Planning

October 22, 2020

We tend make big, lofty goals for ourselves that we think will make us feel better— “I’ll get back to running 5 miles tomorrow and feel better” “If I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happy” “Once I get that promotion at work, everything will be good.” If our goals are so big or out of our control, they can be daunting. We then may put them off, which ultimately makes us feel worse and further away from the life we want to live.

One way to start is by thinking about your values. What’s important to you? Time with family? Friendships? Community engagement? Physical fitness? Brainstorm all the activities that you can do that fall in line with these values. Maybe it’s a walk with your child, reaching out to your neighbor, looking up online fitness classes, spending five minutes outside. Write down some ideas and schedule these into your day. Like we talked about in earlier blog posts, track your mood and energy level as you do these activities. If you notice something is bringing your mood down and it’s within your control to reduce that activity, try taking it out. For me, that’s time spent scrolling on social media. When I’m glued to my screen, I feel more “sluggish” and less engaged with my values—so I can try to reduce the time I spent online and replace it with another activity more aligned with my goals. With intention, add more of those activities that lift your mood. Start small so you can get “a win.” Maybe it’s walking from your door to the end of the street. That’s okay. In fact, that’s great. If it that walk wasn’t on your schedule, you wouldn’t have done it and would be that much farther from where you want to be. Acknowledge and reward yourself when you follow through with your planned activities- no matter how big or small. You are taking steps towards your goals!

The key ingredients to making changes when you’re stuck are to start small, be curious about how different activities specifically affect you (see post about “Getting Started when You’re Stuck”, be intentional about adding these personalized activities to your day and…and drop the judgment on yourself, each small step is bringing you closer to the life you want to live.


By Naomi Ennis, PhD