Tips for Setting Goals for Mental Illness Recovery

December 26, 2022 Laura A. Barton

As the new year creeps ever closer, you might be thinking about goals for your mental illness recovery. The final countdown to midnight, fireworks, and a brand new start is just days away, and you might be wondering how to set your mental illness recovery goals best. I’m here to share what’s worked for me.

4 Things to Remember When Setting Mental Illness Recovery Goals

There are a variety of things I’ve used throughout my life when setting mental illness recovery goals, but here are four I still use to this day.

1. Start with Small Recovery Goals

When setting a goal for mental health recovery, it can be tempting to aim big—to aim for that complete recovery or total cure. After all, the ultimate goal is to stop the struggle, the pain, the shame, and overall the negative feelings that can come with having a mental illness.

When it came to my skin-picking disorder, I always tried to stop cold turkey. I’d say to myself, "That’s it. No more picking ever."

An admirable goal but not reasonable or achievable, no matter how much I willed it. When I started focusing on reducing the behavior instead of stopping it all at once, that worked much better.

2. Be Flexible with Your Recovery Goals

The other thing I learned about setting goals for mental illness recovery is that I need to be flexible. Whether it’s a big goal I’ve set or a small goal, I know my recovery will go much more smoothly if I don’t hold myself to task over them if they just aren’t working. The added beauty of small goals is they’re easier to pivot on or change entirely.

It’s totally okay to change up or tweak the goals you’ve set as you grow and heal.

3. Celebrate the Small Recovery Victories

I don’t know if I can stress this one enough. Don’t wait until a big goal is achieved to celebrate; celebrate all the small victories along the way, too. Did you complete that menial task that depression usually has you put off? Celebrate it. (I do.) Did you meet up with friends even though your anxiety was clutching your chest? Celebrate it. (I celebrate that one, too.)

“Celebrate” doesn’t necessarily mean throw a big party with every achievement (although if that’s your jam, by all means). Rather, take a moment to stop, reflect, and give yourself the recognition you deserve for achieving whatever it was (even if no one else does).

4. Give Yourself Grace for Recovery Fumbles

This one is just as important as celebrating your victories: give yourself grace when you fumble with goals you’ve set for mental illness recovery. Expecting a 10-out-of-10, flawless execution isn’t reasonable or fair to us, for that matter.

If I picked that scab I said I wouldn't, I’ll try again tomorrow. If that load of laundry still isn’t folded and put away, I’ll try again tomorrow. If I called off hanging out with friends, I’ll try again tomorrow. There’s always the chance to give it another shot.

A Plan for Setting Goals for Mental Illness Recovery Gives a Better Chance for Success

I hope these tips have helped as you’re thinking about the goals you want to set for your mental illness recovery in the new year (whether you call them new year's resolutions or not). It’s easy to get swept up in the grandeur and magic of the clock striking midnight, but when you approach your new year’s mental illness recovery goals with a plan, there’s a better chance for success.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2022, December 26). Tips for Setting Goals for Mental Illness Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 24 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Follow her writing journey and book love on Instagram, and Goodreads.

Leave a reply