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Each person has their own definition of recovery. As you recover, you will find your own definition. No matter how you define recovery, it is always helpful to set goals and find ways (strategies) to help you meet your goals.

Learning about recovery strategies might help you in your own recovery. Let your mental health worker know if you would like to make the development of recovery strategies part of your mental health recovery plan.

Recovery is all about creating the life you want. At times, mental health challenges make it seem difficult to set a goal for yourself. It might feel almost impossible to think about the things that you hope for or care about. But goal-setting is an important part of wellness, no matter where you are on your path to recovery. Work on what you can, when you can.

To help determine what goals you'd like to set, ask yourself: What do I care about, or what did I care about before my illness?

  • What motivates me?
  • What would I do more of if I could?
  • Where do I want my life to go?
  • What are my dreams and hopes?
  • What interests me?
  • What do I want?
  • What brings me joy?

It helps to start small and work up to larger goals. You might want to begin by setting one small goal for yourself at the beginning of each day. As you become more confident, look at the different areas of your life and think about your short and long term goals.

Examples of short-tem goals

Examples of long-term goals

  • Be out of bed by ___:00 am
  • Finish one household chore
  • Get training or experience for a job
  • Change situation (e.g. a new place to live)
  • Build a relationship with friends or family

Remember to take small steps at first. Ask yourself what do you need to do first? What can you do now that will eventually help you reach this goal?

The Ten Steps to Accomplishing a Goal

  1. State as clearly as possible in a positive manner what it is that you want to create in your life.

    Within the next (time frame)__________________, I choose to ...
  2. Be clear why you want this and how your life will be different once you achieve this goal.

    I believe the benefits of doing this will be ...

    If I decide not to do this, it will mean...
  3. Understand what you have going for you to help you achieve this goal.

    Three things that I have going for me in terms of creating the kind of future that I want are ...
  4. Understand the challenges that exist.

    Three things that may keep me from creating the kind of future that I want are...
  5. Be especially aware of the negative self-talk that undermines your attempts to succeed.

    The negative and destructive self-talk that I need to watch out for is...

    I will fight this negative self-talk by ...
  6. Be clear about what you need to achieve this goal in terms of skills, resources, support systems, etc.

    I need to learn the following skills in order to accomplish this goal...

    I need to get these resources or develop these supports...
  7. List the 3-5 major actions that you need to take to start moving toward this goal.

    I need to get started by doing these things...
  8. Think of ways to care for yourself as you work to achieve this goal.

    I will take care of myself while working to create the kind of future I want by...
  9. Stay focused on what you want to create, not on the difficulties you might be having.

    I will keep myself focused on what I want to create and the benefits this will bring me by ...
  10. Be easy on yourself! Have fun! Enjoy it! Enjoy life!

    I will remember to be easy on myself. Have fun! Enjoy it! I will work to enjoy life by doing these things...

(The sections on goal planning above are excerpted from Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) brochure, Next Steps: Getting the Treatment you Need to Reach Recovery)

"Recovery Planning" has more information that can help you create your own definition of and plan for recovery

Some of things people who have a mental illness report to be helpful to recovery include:
  • Exercise
  • Employment and education
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Having more friends
  • Medication
  • Learning what you are good at doing and finding ways to do more of that
  • Planning for times when you don't feel well
  • Creativity
  • Spirituality

What We Know About Recovery

  • Recovery is an up-and-down process
  • Symptoms may remain, but people still RECOVER!
  • Symptoms are less troublesome and happen less often.
  • Recovery can happen whether or not we still take medication.
  • Recovery does not mean that one did not have a mental illness.
  • Recovery from the consequences of being ill is often harder than recovering from the illness itself.
Contact Us

Phone 206-263-9000

TTY Relay: 711

Fax: 206-296-0583