How to Balance Goals With Your Mental Health

Listen to Jamie’s Business Owner Mental Health Advice on Triple M Radio!

Say, What?

It’s like this—you’ve got goals you want to hit, but you’re in this crazy uncertainty of COVID, which can make it really hard to be sure about the plan you’d like to put in place. Goal attainment in a stable economy is hard enough, but how do you approach it in these chaotic times, when everyone’s mental health is shaky? 

One stark way mental health comes into the picture is this: If you are hell-bent on hitting your goals, but the landscape keeps changing on you, stress skyrockets. How you can deal with that stress determines whether you can meet those goals—or even function in the day-to-day.

And when I say goals, the goal right now might just be to break even, or not lose too much; or it could be to hit your dream sales target as it was for one client of ours (which she did by the way). 

Practice Goal Detachment

This new world we find ourselves in is scary, but it’s also an agile environment that presents us with the perfect opportunity to practise ‘goal detachment.’

Goal detachment is the subtle art of defining your goals clearly, putting plans in place, and executing on those plans with the faith the goal will be achieved, all the while being utterly unattached to the outcome or attainment of those goals. It might sound like a paradox, but the power of detaching yourself from the outcome of your actions is liberating to the degree that it can be hard to understate. 

If you think about the times when you’ve been under the most stress, more than likely,it is when things are either not going as you’d like them to go or you think things are not going to go as you’d like them to go. In either case, it is your attachment to ‘how things should be’ that creates the problem. There are many things in our world that we cannot control; COVID being the perfect example. 

The paradox arises in the context of goal achievement because of the importance of your expectations in achieving your goals. Your expectations have a massive influence on you achieving your goals. When asked if they expected to get back to earth, the astronauts of Apollo 13 replied, “Absolutely, there was never any doubt in our minds.” 

Another component that is a close cousin of expectation is faith. When you are able to build deep faith that the goal will be achieved, it allows you to let go of exactly how or when that might happen. 

How to Bring it Together

So how do you develop expectations that align with your goals yet be unattached to your goals? The difference lies in understanding what achieving your goals means to you emotionally. If your goal is to get X, it’s the meaning of getting X that becomes dangerous. When your happiness is made contingent on getting X, now you’re building attachment—which can be dangerous and counterproductive.

These can be tricky topics to navigate and reconcile with each other, but the payoff of reaching a base level of mastery around them is seriously worth it. Those who can:

  • thread the needle of setting audacious goals,
  • be relatively unattached to that goal (yes there are levels of attachment); and
  • have deep faith in their ability to make the goal happen

These are the people who do great things without letting those things negatively impact their mental health.

But, What About Failure?

But you might say, “Jamie, the consequences of me not hitting my goal is going bankrupt. How do I be unattached to that?”

To that, I say the principles are still the same. It’s only the meaning you give to going bankrupt that creates the stress for you. I’m not saying going bankrupt would easy or desirable, but it is still your response to it that creates your stress, not the event itself. For most of us, many things would have to go seriously wrong to have us on the streets and begging for food. Even then, there is a way forward. While that also would not be a desirable situation, it is recoverable. 

Finding Help

Now, all this is said with one major caveat; if you find yourself crippled with fear,anxiety or depression, it may not be possible to put what I’m writing about here into practice. If that is you, you should absolutely seek professional help. Seeking help can give us a leg up. And sometimes we are unable to give that to ourselves. We all need help from time to time, and we should allow others to help us. It feeds the soul. 

Mental Health Resources

If this is you, visit https://headtohealth.gov.au/ in Australia or https://cmha.ca/ in Canada.

If you are in crisis, you are not alone. Call 13 11 14 in AUS or 1-833-456-4566 in CAN – 24/7/365

I’d love to say I’ve mastered all this, but it is still very much practice and one thatI’m committed to because of the reasons I’ve just written.  

Good luck with it, and I welcome your thoughts or comments from any perspective. And if you want targeted advice on how to make this work in your life – reach out

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