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How to Set Goals When You’re Depressed

Setting goals with depression can sometimes feel overwhelming and discouraging. Instead, here are my tips for goals for someone with depression. Here’s how to set goals when you’re depressed.

Setting goals when you're depressed can sometimes feel overwhelming and discouraging. Instead, here are my tips for a better way to set goals when you're depressed. Here's how to set goals when you're depressed.

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How to Set Goals When You’re Depressed | Goal Setting for Depression

Side note about motivation: Is there anything you could use as a small reward that might encourage you to start taking action toward a goal? Maybe there’s a new book you want to buy or a tv show you want to watch on Netflix. Try setting a small reward for each goal you set. Also try your best to add healthy foods to your diet and move a little every day because these things can dramatically raise your energy levels.

Ok, back to the article: Once you find a little motivation, it’s time to set some goals. Let’s start with a basic goal-setting acronym that you may have heard before.


Smart goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Specific.

Especially in the case of depression and goal setting, you really want to focus on goals that are realistic for you to achieve.

It might be tempting to set big, lofty goals like “Be happy,” but it’s much more motivating if you set smart goals for depression that are baby steps that you can easily achieve so you can build up your wins and feel good about yourself.

Celebrate every tiny victory by setting small, short-term goals.

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If you set goals that are unrealistic or take too long to achieve, you’re just going to feel discouraged. And we don’t want that.

Instead, each goal should be a little baby step. The “goal” is to create as many small wins for you as possible.  That gives you momentum and makes it easier to keep going and keep making progress. 🙂

Maybe you could set a goal to make your bed today. It always makes me feel like I have my life together when my bed is made and my apartment is picked up. This is something that would only take a few minutes but would make you feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day.

You can even start with smaller goals. A few years ago I had a therapist who told me about someone who struggled with getting out of bed every morning. So what she suggested was that he get out of bed literally one toe at a time. Sometimes a full action is just too overwhelming when you’re in the throes of depression.

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So, if you’re having trouble just getting out of bed, guide one toe over to the side of the bed. Then the other toes. Then put one foot on the ground. Then the other one. Then stand up. And so on.

To an outsider this might seem like a weird way to set goals, but when you are depressed it is totally acceptable and ok if your goal for the day is to get your baby toe out of bed. 🙂 That little toe is a victory!  Do the same thing tomorrow but take it one step farther.

Small Goals for Depression / Depression Goal Ideas

These are some possible short term goals for depression:

  • Get out of bed today
  • Make your bed
  • Take a shower or relaxing bath
  • Brush your teeth
  • Get dressed in regular clothes
  • Leave the house for an hour or two
  • Attend a therapy appointment
  • Finish one chore (like vacuuming, dishes, laundry etc)
  • Finish one errand (like going grocery shopping, etc)

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you don’t stop.” – Confucius

I really believe in taking baby steps. It is amazing how much you can accomplish if you can manage to take just three baby steps every single day over a long period of time. That’s how I’ve accomplished nearly everything over the last few years – I take at least three small steps forward every single day. These days, my goals have gotten a little bigger and more long-term, but the process is still the same.

Over time, you won’t even believe how far you’ve come.

You can do this. 🙂

What is one goal you can accomplish today (or tomorrow if it’s already night time)?

P.S. If you’re ready to improve your life and keep track of all your progress and goals, check out Your Best Life Planner. It’s a kit of 36 digital printables that help you plan your days with monthly, weekly, and daily planners, set goals, vision your future, create self care and gratitude lists, and so much more! Check it out here now and create your best life.

Your Best Life Planner

Depression Goal Settings | Setting Goals for People with Depression


Friday 16th of September 2016

How to do meditation and which types of thoughts we need to think or mumble when doing meditation

you have any email address where i can tell you what's my problem


Monday 19th of September 2016

You can try to quiet your mind and think about nothing or you can try a guided meditation like one of these if you prefer: https://resilientblog.co/anxiety/6-guided-meditations-for-relaxation/ :)


Monday 12th of September 2016

Now I am in depression and i want to do study because i am student but i can't concentrating on my study what should i do now


Wednesday 14th of September 2016

Meditation can help with concentration. You can also try the Pomodoro technique where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break and repeat. Sometimes breaking up your work and taking more frequent breaks can help. Good luck! :)


Tuesday 19th of April 2016

This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. You have a compelling written voice. Thank you.

Ryan Quaresma

Sunday 27th of March 2016

I loved the post! I've been setting goals for a while and it has been helping me enormously, especially if I break them down into smaller objectives.

Thank you,



Monday 28th of March 2016

It definitely helps!


Sunday 21st of February 2016

I just came across your page. Thank you for creating a safe space for those of us who are battling depression and anxiety. After reading this article, I don't feel so alone in what I am experiencing.

Thank you,



Monday 22nd of February 2016

Thank you :) I'm glad it helps.

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