How to follow your Dreams with Depression and Anxiety
May 20, 2020
When did you last spend time following your dreams?
I think, with everything going on in the world, most of you have been putting your dreams on the back burner. What you really want in life feels so unimportant in the face of pandemics, school closings, and job loss. In times like these, you literally live minute by minute. Sometimes, that feels like all you can do.
But I want to offer a different opinion. I want to use the post to show you that this is the perfect time to work on your goals.
A lot of you have more free time.
You’re not as bogged down by kids’ activities since many are out of operation.
So, why not get to work?
How can you work on your goals when life seems really chaotic? What about when you live with depression and anxiety? That makes it even harder. Keep reading to find out my tips for following your dreams and snag a free printable to help you out.
Figure out what your goal actually is
First off, you have to figure what it is you’re working toward. You can’t make it happen if you don’t know what it actually is you want.
Setting goals has to be done in a certain way to make it more effective. You can’t just say, “I want to be a writer,” and expect that to happen.
Effective goals have 5 key components. To set a higher quality goal, it needs to be:
Let’s try that goal again!
“I want to be a writer”
“I will complete a first draft of a 300 page novel in 9 months.”
Why is this better? It is specific. You are saying precisely what you want to do. It is measurable. You could easily measure your progress, using an Excel spreadsheet, or another note-taking app. It is achievable. By this timeline, all you need to do is write about 1-2 pages a day. So, it is also realistic. The last component of an effective goal is that it needs to be time-sensitive. Your new goal has a deadline, so you’re good to go!
Cancel-cancel negative thoughts
One thing that gets in the way of a lot of dreams is your own negative thinking. We tend to get stuck in our own head a lot. We set our goals, and then we work harder on talking ourselves out of them than we do pursue them.
You want to be a writer for instance, but all day long your brain is loudly screaming the following garbage:
I’ll never make it as a writer.
It’s too hard.
I don’t have the time.
People will hate what I write.
So many others do it better.
None of my ideas are good.
Does this sound like you? I was plagued by negative thoughts by far too long, and I found something that really helped. It’s called the cancel-cancel method.
It’s pretty simple! All you do is, as soon as a negative thought comes up, say “Cancel cancel,” then immediately follow it up with a positive thought.
Ex. “I’ll never make it as a writer. Cancel cancel. I will be a writer because I have drive and dedication.”
It might not work at first, but over time your brain will learn to adapt to these new positive thought patterns.
I recommend picking up a good journal and starting each day by writing down what you want to accomplish. This helps to set the intention for your workday and to get yourself in a positive frame of mind. Something like: “Write 3 pages today,” or “Edit yesterday’s chapter.”
Then, make sure you do it. Set up a quiet, and clutter-free workspace. Then, grab a bottle of water and start working!
Decide who YOU are
Part of following your dreams is knowing what your key values are. It helps to tell you the things that you are (and are NOT) willing to compromise on. Are you passionate about helping others? Are you family-oriented? A spiritual person?
Deciding who you really are is going to go a long way toward you meeting your goals. That’s because so much of goal setting requires compromise, both with yourself and others. So first, you have to figure out what you might be willing to sacrifice to get there and what things are non-negotiable.
Following your dreams when you have depression or anxiety is possible!
Here is a summary of my tips, plus a few extras to get you started.
Figure out what your goal actually is.
Cancel-cancel negative thoughts.
Work on your dream daily.
Decide who YOU are.
Take your meds.
Get plenty of sleep.
Write in a journal daily.
Cut toxic, negative people out ASAP.
What is your biggest dream in life? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this post with a friend!
Mental illness does not mean you can’t follow your dreams, so get to work, and good luck!
About the Author
Jen (the writer behind the blog, Diffusing the Tension) lives in Northwest Indiana with her husband and two children (ages 4.5 and 3). She has bipolar disorder and frequently writes about her experiences with that. In her spare time, she is OBSESSED with true crime. She is also a bookworm, TV junkie, and fitness nut.