One thing that I was never and still haven’t grasped a “healthy” concept of is goal setting. I tend to set myself up for failure by setting goals with unrealistic timeframes and expectations. Like taking Ryan Gosling as my date to a fancy function …instead I shamelessly took a couples photo with his cardboard cut out to convince myself that I ticked that goal off my list. See what I mean when I say I set myself unrealistic goals… and then cheat myself when I try and convince my list that I have completed it.
If there is anything I have learnt while trying to deal with depression and anxiety is that I need to stop putting so much pressure on myself. I don’t need to do Pilates twice a day five times a week, I don’t need to eat that boring salad everyday, I don’t need to have $30,000 in savings, I don’t need to own my own house just yet and I don’t need to have my life sorted out by the time I am 28....I am still trying to find out what I actually like and want to do with myself. For years I worked myself into the ground to get myself out of debt, to complete a university degree, to save money to buy a house or have an overseas trip of a lifetime. And you know what? It’s been 10 years since I have graduated high school and after working two (sometimes three) jobs, the only thing I have managed to tick off my list was completing my two-year degree (in three years, this is explained in my book), and saving enough money to go on my first overseas holiday on a cruise, which was at the beginning of this year.
Without going into to much detail (it’s all in my book) there was a point in my life where I couldn’t step foot into a shopping centre, if I absolutely had to go in I would park my car at the closest entrance to the shop I needed to go to, power walk to that one shop, keeping my head down and not making eye contact with anyone... About a year ago I got invited to go down the coast with my work bestie and party with her friends. When I got invited I could feel my chest tightening, I could hear my heart pounding in my ears and the first thing I started to do was try and think of any excuse to say I couldn’t go... I couldn’t think of any quick enough and agreed to go down after work. I called her that night and she didn’t answer, I started to relax. But then she called me back and asked how long I will be because all of her friends (13 of them….) were waiting for me to get there before heading to the bar. I shat myself (not literally of course) thinking about how socially awkward I was going to be and that I wouldn’t fit in with her friends. Anyway, I finally got down there and had one of the best nights I have ever had and made all of these amazing new friends.
My point is, this whole time I was focused on ticking off materialistic goals that didn’t really mean anything to me and kept sinking me further into depression when I didn’t achieve them. When I started focusing on other things that made me feel good like when I ventured down the coast and met new friends, I was so proud of myself for two main reasons…For one, leaving my house and safe place and two, setting myself a realistic goal and achieving it. I can tell you know I can count on one hand how many times I have ever felt proud of myself.
So now when I am “goal setting” I have a completely new approach, which means no more goals involving Ryan Gosling. I still set myself materialistic goals, but I tend to focus on smaller things like trying a new Yoga or Pilates class by myself, taking myself out for coffee, saying hi to someone else walking their dog on the same street and small stuff I couldn’t do a year ago.