Goals and Recovery by Aisling

Goals and Recovery

by See Change Ambassador, Aisling


Goals can be helpful and important to help us grow and change in a direction we want to, but the pressure of ‘New Year Resolutions’ can be unhelpful. In my experience, especially as a bit of a perfectionist, is that goals that involve me putting too much pressure on myself have been the least effective. 

What I have found the most helpful is to find a goal I want to work toward and then break it down into all the steps to get there. Goal setting has been a big part of my recovery process. I remember having a goal setting group when I was in hospital, the nurse encouraged us to set goals in a simple and categorized way for example a ‘Self care goal’ or ‘social goal’. I found this a very helpful way to break down the process and identify what areas of my life would benefit from setting goals. For me, the next big learning was learning not to judge my goals. I found it challenging not to be hard on myself for my goals being too basic, however the more basic the goal was the more likely I was to achieve it and be able to set another. I still use this method at the start of each month. For example, if my mood has been low and I notice I am isolating myself my goal for the month may be to meet up with a particular friend at least once. Then the following month I might set a goal to meet up with friends at least twice. Allow yourself to set basic goals, your current goals do not have to be the end product, they can be the stepping stone on the way to where you want to go.  

The main goal setting pitfall I notice I can fall into is comparison. I find especially in January it is especially easy to fall into comparing myself and my goals to the goals of others I see around me. In January this is often the resolutions around healthy eating and exercise. Being in recovery from an eating disorder I find this particularly challenging, it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure for your goal to be ‘as good as’ the goal of others at the best of times, but at a time that feels like that pressure is being echoed around me by the media and society it can be more difficult to stay afloat in recovery. What I have found helpful in this situation is to focus on self care goals in January. 

How can you make a goal that supports you and your recovery this month that is simple and achievable? What do you need to help you maintain your recovery in a time that feels like the thinking you want to move away from is all around you?  

For me these goals might look like aiming to journal at least once a week, or writing 3 things I am grateful for at the end of each day.  

January goals are a great opportunity to make choices that support you best. It’s okay to distance yourself mentally from any media and influences that make you feel down on yourself and it’s okay not to set any January goals at all. Goals are an opportunity to empower you and the changes you can make, not to make you feel guilty.  


If you are having a tough time at the moment and need to reach out for support, please contact any of the following

Shine: phil@shine.ie


Samaritans: 116123


Pieta House: 1800 247 247


YourMentalHealth.ie: 1800 742 444

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