Todays blog post is about goal setting and how setting myself small goals has helped me make big improvements. I’m not going to be one of those people who preaches that everybody should adopt the same methods as me. I know that not everyone is as crazy as I am and a lot of people are perfectly capable of being happy without too much effort (jammy bastards). This is just something that I’ve found extremely useful over the past couple of months.
I don’t like change. I’m very much a creature of habit, its something I find immense comfort in. So, as somebody who has been trying to make big changes to my lifestyle recently, this isn’t my best skill.
At 27, I’m certainly not in a place to say that I’ve had a midlife crisis, and I guess that’s not quite how it feels to me either. However, I’ve definitely been at a crossroads recently. I’ve taken a step back and evaluated every single aspect of my life and I had to be perfectly honest and say I didn’t like a lot of what I saw.
I like to think I’m a good person. I try to be kind to other people and support the people I care about, I also like to think that people enjoy my company in one way or another, whether that be through laughter or something else.
But I wasn’t being very kind to myself. I had bad habits (drinking, overthinking, not being very self critical) and this meant that I wasn’t very preset in my life, to the point where I probably wasn’t much fun to be around. I knew after my latest bout of depression that I needed to make a change. A big one.
As I mentioned, I don’t really like change and reflecting on all of the things I wasn’t happy about was incredibly daunting. I was really lucky in that I managed to get myself into counselling without being on a particularly long waiting list and its been really important to me.
At my first few sessions I started setting goals for what I’d like to achieve during the next week. It would usually start with me talking about something I wasn’t happy with and from there, my goal for the week would be to improve that in some way. It was small changes, but I noticed the difference straight away and its something I’ve kept up away from counselling to help me achieve things without completely irrational fear.
I only set small goals, its all my brain can deal with. I get in my own head too much if I start thinking too far ahead. I never thought I’d make it through Sober October because I obsessed over it so much. But counselling gave me the tools to think differently. I stopped looking at it as a whole month and just thought about the things I had coming up, and not having a drink at them. It worked! It’s the 5th of November now and I still haven’t had a beer and for the past couple of weeks it’s not something I’ve even thought about.
I realised if I can use this skill to not drink then surely I can use it for other things too. So I started setting myself little targets. For example I decided I wanted to start recording a podcast last week to supplement this blog and I set myself the goal of recording my first episode, which I did! It’s available via my last blog post or via Spotify here.
One of the other targets I’ve had recently was to start being a little bit more present. Because I was in my own head so much, I was becoming selfish. I thought I was getting a grip of things by keeping myself busy but then when I did have free time I always thought about myself first. It was always case of “what can I do to relax or switch off” and not much thinking about others. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with taking some time to yourself, I try and have one night a week where I just completely switch off from the world, but it shouldn’t be any little moment of spare time I have. This is something that I am allowing myself to think about longer term. I know I can’t fix it in a week. But having set smaller goals and met them, I feel a lot more comfortable that it’s something I can achieve.
At one point, just getting through a full week without my mind spiralling out of control seemed almost impossible, but now I find it a lot easier to switch off and its through putting this skill into practice.
Small steps, big changes.