Grief and Goal Setting
Benefits of Goal Setting for your Mood and Well-Being

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Dealing with grief and goal setting may seem to be an oxymoron.  However goal setting is an important step to your well-being, whether you are in the midst of a life crisis, dealing with grief, or enjoying life's journey.

Goals give us a sense of purpose.  There are many goals that need to be accomplished on the road to one's destiny or healing.   Goals can provide direction, especially when life gets confusing.

Whether you are trying to make it through a crisis one day at a time, or you have a grand vision for your life, family, business or ministry, goals are the stepping stones along the path to success.

Setting the Right Kind of Goals is Key

For effective goal setting you need to create goals that are specific and define a time frame to accomplish each goal.  When your goals are not specific, it is difficult to visualize them.  This makes it even more difficult to be motivated enough to take action.  Lack of motivation is also a symptom of depression.

 A study at the University of Liverpool identified that individuals with clinical depression tended to create generalized goals that were difficult to achieve.  A generalized goal would be something like, "To be happy." 

The non-depressed participants in the study were more likely to have specific goals, which were attainable, such as "improve my five-mile marathon time this summer". The researchers concluded that having very broad and abstract goals may sustain and intensify depression.

Many studies show that people who write down their goals have greater success in life than those who skip this important step. 

Examples of goals that could be useful for you:

  • I attend a weekly grief support group
  • I eat three meals a day
  • I spend 30 minutes per day clearing (organizing, discarding) the clutter in my home
  • Three times a week I take a walk
  • I call 3 friends each week
  • I attend weekly services for spiritual support
  • I pray daily
  • I journal three times a week to express my feelings

Grief and Goal Setting Tips

1.  When you write your goals, make them positive, present tense or future focused statements.  It is best to avoid words with negative connotations like "stop", "Don't", or "No". Instead focus on the positive thing you will  do instead.

2.  Create brief goal statements that are action oriented. Focus on what you want "to DO"

3.  State a time frame in which you want to accomplish your goal. It may be daily, weekly, monthly or a specific date.

4.  Create a list of daily activities that you can do to support your goal. 

5.  Who do you need support from to accomplish your goal?  Let them know what help you need from them.

Other Benefits of Goal Setting

  • Makes you aware of weaknesses that you can improve upon
  • Gives you a sense of achievement when accomplished
  • Improves self-esteem and self-confidence
  • An important part of recovery from depression or grief
  • Reflection on past victories can motivate you for current goals
  • Forces you to set priorities, therefore limits distractions
  • Provides a path to follow
  • Makes you responsible for your own success

Do you Make Any of These Excuses for Not Setting Goals?

Perhaps you are reluctant for change? Setting goals may require you to try something new.  This often takes additional energy and preparation that simply doing what you're already doing.

Fear of success? Maybe there is concern about the responsibilities you may be obligated to if you achieve a significant goal.

Time constraints?  Instead of focusing on a specific goal, you may be saying "yes" to many things that do not fit your true purpose.

Fear of failure?  Do you think you will be criticized if you do not reach your goals?  (even by your own inner voice?) Those who set high goals and fail to reach them often accomplish much more than those who never set goals.  What if you set a goal to save $5,000 in the next 12 months?  Even if you only save $3,500 over the next year, you still have accomplished more than what you might have without a goal.

Passivity?  A belief that whatever will happen, will happen.  While there will always be things that we cannot control in our lives, there is evidence that when we set our mind on a goal and speak our goal out loud, that we begin to notice circumstances and people around us cooperating with us to attain that goal.

If you find yourself making any of these excuses to avoid goal setting, take some time to reflect on the thoughts that support them.  Then explore whether those thoughts are really true, or how likely they are to happen.  Find ways to challenge negative thinking that hinders you from setting positive goals for your healing or pursuing your destiny.

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