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How Setting SMART Goals for the New Year Can Aid Depression Treatment

Jan 8, 2019 10:05:52 AM

A Goal Without a Plan Is Just A Wish sign with a desert background

New year. New me.

Every January, motivation hits and we become determined that this is the year we will make major improvements in our lives. We sit down with a pen and paper and list all the things that we plan to change in the upcoming year. For those struggling with depression, finding the motivation to make improvements for the new year can seem daunting. When each day is a struggle to get out of bed, how can one even begin to contemplate gathering the motivation to make life-altering changes.

The research suggests otherwise.

 Adobe Spark (50)-1


A study published in the academic journal PLOS ONE suggests that those with depression are as equally motivated as those without depression when it comes to setting goals. The study had 42 people with depression and 51 people who lacked signs of depression write down their goals and attainment likelihood.


What Was The Outcome?

The number of goals written down were the same, indicating that both groups rivaled in their motivation levels for improvement. The glaring difference was in the verbiage used while listing goals. Those with depression created significantly more avoidance goals (e.g., avoid all carbs and sugar) rather than personal approach goals (e.g., improve my diet by eating more vegetables). The attainment likelihood was also lower for the depressed group than it was for the control group.


Business man pointing to transparent board with text What are Your Goals?


What Did They Learn?

The author of the study suggests that "pessimism around goal pursuit accompanies fewer approach goal pursuits and a general tendency to disengage when difficulties are encountered."

Stated in layman's terms, those with depression set goals that would be difficult to obtain (for anyone), creating discouragement which resulted in abandoning the goal and further increasing the stress of goal setting. It's a vicious cycle that may seem impossible to break out of.


Dear Future, Im Ready... written on desert road


How Can SMART Goals Help?

The SMART acronym is a goal setting tool that helps you set goals that are achievable and focused on positive outcomes.

SMART goals are concrete targets that you can easily aim for. They’re realistic, quantifiable, and focused, so you know exactly how to accomplish them.

If you’re wondering what SMART means, it’s an acronym that helps you clearly define these goals, pushing you to produce real results. Check out the framework below.

S.M.A.R.T goals are...

Specific- It answers the questions of who, what, when, where, which, and why.

Measurable- The goal needs to be quantifiable. A goal with a number attached to it becomes tangible while also helping us keep track of progress.

Achievable/Attainable- Set a goal that is possible to accomplish. Make an honest effort to create more personal approach goals instead of avoidance goals.

Realistic- Ensure that the goal is not only attainable but that you have the resources available in order to accomplish the task.

Timely- Create a deadline for your goal. Having a time-frame allows you to track your progress.

 smart goals 2


What Are Some Examples?

Let's take a look at some of the common goals people set for the new year and see if we can use the SMART acronym to improve them.

In 2019, I want to improve my health.

Many of us have this goal but what does it really mean? Does being healthier mean quit smoking, lose weight, or walk more? Possibly even improve mental health? Now let's try and improve our goal by using SMART.

"I will lose 15 pounds by May 1st by losing 1 pound per week by following my trainer's meal plan and exercising with him on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays for one hour at the local gym."


What About One For Our Mental Health?

In 2019, I want to be a happier person often comes up as a goal many have. Let's use our new SMART tool to create a more focused and attainable goal.

"I will create myself more mental health time by meditating for 15 minutes each morning from 6:00 - 6:15 a.m. After 3 months, I will assess how meditation has improved my mental health and adjust as needed."


Both of these goals are now more focused allowing a better chance of a positive outcome.

Battling depression and need help setting goals for the new year? Let us help!

Click on the link below or call us at (877) 998-2002 to schedule your consultation today. 

 Adobe Spark (74)






Neuromend Team

Written by Neuromend Team

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