AS@W Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace
Reactivating Your Life
Step 4Carry out your goals

It is important to realize that when you are depressed you probably won’t feel like doing your activity goals. In depression, motivation to do things is much less than usual. However, 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. Depressed mood is likely to make you focus on the things you haven’t done, and ignore or downplay your accomplishments. Deliberately remind yourself of achievements, no matter how small they may seem. If you find yourself minimizing your own achievement (“but that was such a small thing to do”), remember that completing small goals while feeling 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 to use the fact that you didn’t achieve your goal as an opportunity to learn something, not as a failure. Consider 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!

When you feel depressed, it’s important to scale back to something you are sure you can do, even if you feel no better this coming week than you did last week. Walking a few blocks or spending 15 minutes at a hobby are perfectly reasonable goals. As your energy comes back you will be able to do more. But for now, allow yourself to get started slowly.


Deliberately remind yourself of achievements, no matter how small they may seem.

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