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  • Lex Ellis

Goal Setting: A Beginner's Guide



In DBT and other therapies, accountability is a crucial part of your growth and healing. Suppose you are doing well in therapy or on a combination of medication. In that case, it can be easy to set yourself up for disappointment by being too ambitious in your initial goals. Start small and keep yourself motivated to keep going. If you set goals too high, they may not be immediately attainable, discourage you, and make you lose progress. When people set goals too high and then don't meet them, they feel incapable of functioning correctly. This isn't true at all; it just has to be kept in perspective.


First, decide what medium you would like to use. Some people love planners and the dynamic of the colors and handwritten words. Others may prefer to use an app or calendar on their phone or even something as simple as the notepad function.


To start, make a few measurable and attainable goals. Set goals for something you can achieve so you know you can set and reach them. Make three small goals a day and try your best to meet them. An example could be to drink 16oz of water. Maybe you need to make self-care more of a priority. Make a goal to set aside five minutes to do a mindfulness exercise. This could be before you get started for the day, at night before bed, or any time that's the most convenient for you. Maybe you want to do something more physical and begin to make that a priority. You could set a goal to go on a short walk around the block. You could involve the entire family with the walk and kill two birds with one stone.

Work on your three small, daily goals. They don't always have to be the same, either. You can change your focus if you feel your needs are different from day today. One day, a goal may be to drink more water, and another, it may be to get a load of laundry done and put away.


While you are maintaining your daily goals and finding encouragement in yourself, also come up with a long term goal you would like to reach. It doesn't have to be anything out of this world. My long-term goal is often to get more sleep regularly. Another long-term goal I have had is to get my budget in order and my bills paid on time. These are things that I struggle with and am actively working on. Keeping a goal-setting journal or app is a great way to keep yourself motivated, and sharing it with someone or going over it yourself daily holds you accountable. Try your best to make it part of a routine. The more you practice, the easier it will become, and the more successful you will be.