Young woman writes down mental health goals

Why is Goal Setting Important for Your Mental Health?

At the beginning of the year, goal setting is a popular thing to do. Many people use the New Year to catapult themselves into habits and goals that they want to achieve. 

Setting goals is a way for people to make an active effort to change their life and improve their mental health. Often, people are unhappy with their circumstances and use goals to get where they want to be in life. There seem to be more benefits than negatives when trying to achieve goals. 

Being motivated to make a change can feel uplifting, and healthy habits can be reinforced when goals are met. So, why is mental health goal setting important? In this blog, you’ll learn why it’s essential to set mental health goals and some tips on how to achieve them. 

Do you need help with your mental health? Call us today to learn how we can help.

What Does Setting Mental Health Goals Look Like?

Goal setting typically takes place when you feel the motivation for change. People can sometimes make a mental note of some goal they’d like to accomplish. Although this is an excellent first step, more needs to go into it.

Write Down Your Goals 

Many people write their goals down. A study done by Dominican University showed that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them compared to those who have unwritten goals. 

Put Your Goals into Action 

After you’ve established your goal, this is the time where steps must be taken to accomplish them. Whether it is going to a gym, dieting, or reading, action needs to be taken. By doing an action that is working towards your goals every day, you’ll eventually reach your goal. 

Setting mental health goals takes place within a few steps:

  1. Choose a goal to accomplish.
  2. Make a plan on how to accomplish it.
  3. Stick to the plan.
  4. Achieve your goal.

How Do I Set a Mental Health Goal?

There are many ways that people try to set goals. Most people take the easy route by creating a vague goal such as “I want to be happier.” This type of goal setting usually doesn’t turn into actually following through on that promise. 

Your goal needs to be specific and understandable. By saying, “I will be happier by taking time every day for my hobbies,” you’re setting a clear goal that is easy to understand and measurable. Having measurable goals makes it easier to see your progress. 

The first step of setting a goal is figuring out your goal. Some common goals include:

  • Health- weight loss, reducing alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, etc.
  • Career or business- improving work performance, being promoted, etc.
  • Education- completing a diploma or degree, achieving specific results in school, etc.
  • Relationships and family- spending quality time, reducing conflict, etc.
  • Creative or artistic- learning an instrument, cooking, etc.
  • Community or volunteer work- coaching a team, starting a charity, etc.
  • Financial- saving for a vacation, reducing debt, achieving investment goals, etc.

Setting SMART Goals 

Many people follow the SMART goal-setting strategy. This theory is based on years of academic research to help you achieve your goals. 


Be clear about what your goal is. Having a specific weight number or money saved is vital for knowing what you want to accomplish. 

This is a great time to establish the who, when, where, why, and what portion of your goal. Being specific about these questions is a helpful way for you to know exactly how you want to accomplish your goal. This can be setting an exact time limit on how you want to improve your mental health by meditating for 10 minutes every day.


Having a measurable goal is vital for reinforcing the specific part of this theory. Knowing exactly how much you need to do helps you accomplish the goal. 

It also helps measure your progress and can keep you motivated. If you can write down each time you’ve accomplished a task that allows you to achieve your goal, you can look at your progress when you’re feeling unmotivated.


Setting an achievable goal is essential. If you set too hard of a goal, it might lead to you feeling discouraged if you fall short. 

A way to counter this challenge is to do increasing goals. If your overall goal is to be less stressed, come up with a plan to journal or meditate 5 minutes each day. By focusing on the smaller goals and increasing them over time, you can eventually accomplish the more challenging goal. 


Similarly, your goals need to be realistic. This includes the practicality of getting it done each day. If you expect to meditate several hours a day but have a full-time job, this would be a slightly unrealistic goal. 

The key to establishing habits that can lead to your goals is making the habit easy enough to do. If you tell yourself to read only one page of a book every day, it becomes too easy not to do it. Creating a habit that is easy enough to accomplish every day can lead to achieving your goal. 

Setting a timeframe with a deadline is an excellent way to keep you motivated. There is the pressure that comes with accomplishing a task before a deadline. This motivation can prioritize your goal or tasks above other distractions. 

You can use your timeframe to help establish your plan to reach your goal. By asking what needs to be done in six months and working backward to what you can do today, it will help you know how to accomplish your goal. 

Do you need help staying on track to accomplish your goal? Contact us for assistance

Why Is Goal Setting Important for Your Mental Health?

Now that we’ve established what goal setting looks like and how to accomplish them, why is it important to have goals? Having goals helps you move towards where you want to be in life. If you are unhappy in your current situation, goals can sometimes be an excellent way to change your life. 

It can help you get to where you want to be in the future. But they can also be a great way for you not to feel regret. Some people may look back and wish they did more, so having goals is a way to make sure you’re living to your fullest potential. 

What Are Some Benefits to Goal Setting?

Besides getting where you want to be in life, other factors are beneficial for your mental health. Many people have a dopamine boost when they accomplish a goal. You’ll feel happier about yourself because you’ve done something that you want to do and could do it. 

You may also see some improvements in your overall performance. This can range from work performance to how well you maintain relationships. By accomplishing goals in one area of your life, it can flow into other parts and motivate you to keep improving those. 

You’ll feel more motivated to keep going even on tough days with goal setting. When you have the persistence to keep going, you’ll have valuable experiences knowing you can fight adversity and be happier doing so. 

What Are Some Downsides to Goal Setting?

Although goal setting is usually a positive experience and good for your mental health, it can have some downsides. These downsides typically come from the pressure of accomplishing the goal or failing to do so. 

Since some goals are more challenging to accomplish than others, the journey of achieving them won’t be the same. If they are challenging, this can increase anxiety about accomplishing the goal. Having anxiety about achieving the goal can lead to more difficulty completing it and decreased self-confidence. 

You may also have feelings of failure if you don’t accomplish your goal. This can lead people to feel depressed or lack motivation. So, it’s essential to cope with failing if that does occur. You can learn from your mistakes and do better on the next one. 

Can You Get Help with Goal Setting?

Sometimes coming up with a specific goal and accomplishing them can be difficult. You may also need some assistance staying motivated and happy with the process. At Dana Behavioral Health, we can help you reach your mental health goals. 

Counseling works to hit your refresh button so you can regain confidence and feel supported through your goal journey. We offer individual, group, couple, or family therapy options to find something that works for you. 

Our services also include children’s therapy and medication management when needed. No matter how you choose to seek help, we strive to provide a safe place to discuss your experiences, feelings, and the journey you are on.

Ready to meet with a mental health professional today? Contact our team.