AS@W Antidepressant Skills Workbook: Heling You Deal With Depression
Reactivating your life
Step 4 Carry out your goals

It’s important to realize that you probably won’t  “feel like” doing your activity goals. In depression, your  motivation to do things is much less than usual. But if  you wait until you feel like it, most likely nothing will  happen. Do the activity because you set a goal for yourself  and because it will help you get better. After you’ve  done and checked off each goal, you will see what  you’ve accomplished. 

 In the early stages of recovering from depression, it’s  likely that you won’t get much enjoyment from your  activities, but as you continue to increase your activity  level and focus on recovery, you will gradually regain  the ability to enjoy activities. You’ll even regain the  ability to motivate yourself!   

If you completed a goal, did you congratulate yourself?  If not, do so now. Depression is likely to make you  focus on the things you haven’t done, and ignore or  downplay your accomplishments. This keeps the depression  going, because you will constantly feel like a failure.  Deliberately remind yourself of achievements, no matter  how small they may seem. “All right, I planned to walk  around the block and I did it. Good.” Don’t ignore small  victories or think they don’t count. They do, especially  during depression. If you find yourself minimizing your  own achievement (“but that was such a small thing to  do”), remember that completing small goals while  depressed is like walking a short distance with a very  heavy pack. Meeting goals while depressed is challenging  and deserves to be recognized. 

If you didn’t succeed, what got in the way? What can  you do to make the goal easier? Recognize that your  goal may have been too ambitious. Try making it smaller  for next week, or substitute a different goal. Depressed  people often set their goals too high, fail to reach  them, and become discouraged. The problem is not that  they are lazy, but that they are too eager to get well!   

Scale back to something you are sure you can do, even  if you feel no better this week than you did last week.  Washing one dish, making one phone call, opening one  bill, walking around one block, or spending five minutes  at a hobby: these are all perfectly reasonable goals. As  your energy comes back you will be able to do more.  But for now, allow yourself to get started slowly. 

Next: Step 5