Coping Skills: #60. Set Reasonable Goals

Path in Oxford garden

What path are you taking and what goals are you setting?

Yesterday, I moved onto campus and slept in my new room. All of today was spent at my university. This past day has been wonderful but also nerve-wracking and stressful. Escalated eating disorder symptoms have made that more and more apparent to me.

Just like in Oxford, symptoms that I rarely used are sneaking back into my life as are ones that were still present but tamer. Now, I feel flooded with urges that I either lack the will power to resist or seem more appealing than following my meal plan. Although I am trying to stay on track, this school year and eating is becoming an important issue that I need to address.

One of the ways that I have already begun to work through this issue is by setting reasonable goals. Writing lists and setting goals is one of my favorite coping skills. I enjoy checking off what I have done and thinking about how to accomplish what is left.

Setting realistic and reasonable goals is a bit different. You must realize your disadvantages and factor them into your list. Instead of writing what you want to achieve, you write what you think you can achieve.

Doing this can be frustrating. I want to expect the best out of myself and push myself hard. However, there are times when we need to be honest about our struggles and tone down the intensity. Yes, it would be great if I could eat my whole meal plan each day, but that is not a reasonable goal. Instead of aiming for the best, setting reasonable goals means you aim for what is realistic while still providing yourself with a challenge.

One person’s realistic list might have items on it too perfectionistic for another person. Someone who cuts every day might not be able to say she will go a week without self-harm. Instead she might decide to stop hanging out with a cruel co-worker or have three meals every day. Those goals that are achievable for her might be too hard for a man with anorexia, but he perhaps can try to not self-harm for a week. It is all about what you are dealing with and how much you think that you can manage.

So here is my list of reasonable and realistic goals for myself this first week of school:

  1. Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  2. No purging.
  3. Tell someone or at least pause when the urge to binge arises.
  4. Have at least half (if not more) of my meal plan.
  5. Do not start compulsive exercising.
  6. Take medication as prescribed and when needed.
  7. Do not start self-harm again.
  8. Practice deep breathing.
  9. Be honest about feelings with at least one person each day.
  10. Try to be aware of what is triggering and how to deal with it.

So what are some reasonable goals that you can set for yourself? How do you make sure that your goals are achievable?

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8 thoughts on “Coping Skills: #60. Set Reasonable Goals

  1. Those are some great goals! I need to work on some goals but I am just not very good at following up on them. I need to make a goal of working on my goals!

  2. mihrank says:

    It’s the start of the year, a time when many of us set our writing goals and expectations for the coming twelve months. This is one of my favorite times of the year, in fact. I can look over what I’ve done the year before and see if there’s a chance of upping my expectations.

    However, I’ve done this for many years, and I know the pitfalls of setting those expectations too high. Much better, in fact, to set them a little too low and do better than expected, than to set them too high and face the feeling of failure.

    The goals I set are good for me. Once again, I’ve set my word count at 1000 words a day minimum, averaged at the end of each month, and 500 words minimum not matter what. This is the same base of words I’ve used for several years now. Some months I sail through them without a problem, but there are sometimes months when I’m writing a lot of words in the last few days to meet that goal. I maintain an Excel spreadsheet to keep track, and I’m very strict about keeping it up to date so I know just where I stand.

  3. This is a great post! I really enjoyed what you said about being aware of one’s own limits and difficulties when setting goals. I hadn’t thought about it that way, especially within the context of mental illness, which affects everyone so differently. Thank you for linking back to my blog post about goal setting. I also find a lot of comfort in setting goals and making lists.

  4. ladygracet says:

    Ahhh…those are good goals. Sometimes it is wise to push forward and go farther then you ever thought you could and other times it is wisest to marshal ones strength. Good Luck!

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