Think Past Today: Set a Meaningful Goal

Depression most often impacts an individual’s capacity to lead a self-fulfilled life and effectively set and achieve goals. Goal setting and achievement are part and parcel to reducing depressive and anxious feelings. Goals give us a sense of purpose.

I’ll start with a working definition of GOAL SETTING: Identifying a specific, tangible goal, and making deliberate action around the achievement of the specific goal.

Notice the key words:
-deliberate action

So why is goal setting important?
Goals provide a sense of purpose and a roadmap for daily life. Accomplishing goals gives us a sense of accomplishment. This feeling of accomplishment encourages us to move forward, take a risk, and pursue additional goals. Accomplishment feeds our spirit.

Remember, you can make a goal around anything, including your family, your health, and your career. A goal is the first step in envisioning, generating, and making positive change for your future and emotional health. Sometimes, even just conceptualizing a clear goal is exciting. It gives hope during moments of anxiety, overwhelm, and depression. The vision alone is invigorating.

How do I make a goal?
1. Be honest with yourself. Is this goal something you really want? Is it something you want now? Is this a goal that you want to pursue now? Are you ready to make the effort and take risks?

2. Develop goals around things that excite you. It’s easier to do things that you like or towards something that you really, really want.

3. Be specific AND set a time frame. For example, compare “I want to make more money soon” to “I want to make $135,000 by December 1, 2010.” You want to give yourself a “deadline” to work towards.

4. Have a structured plan. This may seem anal, but write out some type of plan or map.

5. Tell people about the goal! It may be sorta hard to land the new job if NOBODY KNOWS YOU WANT THE JOB! TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR GOALS! Communicating your goals to others allows for others to give you feedback and help. Also, speaking the goal almost majestically brings it closer to reality; the universe begins to align!

Natasha K. Nalls is an expert in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. She works with individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Support your Teen’s Academic Achievement: Six Quick Tips

I’ve noticed a trend among teens and parents during the school year.

The trend is this: parents do not seek support and services for their teen until there is a crisis.

The most challenging scenario is when a parent comes in for psychotherapy three weeks before the end of the school year seeking behavioral modification assistance for their teen, who is weeks away from grade retention.

Many parents fail to notice that their teen is having a “problem” at school until a negative progress report is sent home, the teen is suspended from school, or a parent receives notice that their child may be retained. Yet many signs likely portended the crisis at hand, including poor study habits, behavior problems at school, and/or attention/focus/concentration problems.

Here are a few habits that even a busy parent can adopt to “be in the know” and help keep their teen on track academically:

1. Talk to your teen’s teachers often. Visit in person. Call. Email. It makes a difference when a teacher knows how to reach you and that you are a responsive and concerned parent.

2. Show up. Have you ever just “showed up” at your teen’s school? It gives you a snapshot of what your child’s school day is actually like. It lets your child know that you are familiar with his school setting, and are comfortable interacting with the faculty, staff, and campus.

3. Talk to your teen. Do you know your teen’s closet friends? Do you know their parents? Do you know about your teen’s latest crush? You should. Practice talking to your teen about anything and everything. Open communication doors so that your teen feels more comfortable discussing topics like personal relationships, decision-making, and feelings.

4. Set rules and boundaries. Every piece of research shows that teens need rules and boundaries. They need curfews. They need a routine. They need to know what is expected of them. There should be consequences when rules and agreements are broken.

5. Be emotionally supportive. Like adults, teenagers thrive on attention, emotional support, and positive feedback. Recognize your teen’s accomplishments, and nurture positive behaviors and interests.

6. Seek professional services early on. Procuring mental health services for your child may take time. In many school districts, school psychologists and social workers are extinct. Upon first indication that your teen is struggling, seek guidance from school personnel on identifying a professional in your area. Remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Natasha K. Nalls, LCSW, ACSW, CAP is an expert in the treatment of epression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. She works with individuals, couples, families, and groups.