The How-To of Holistic SMART Goals: Emotional Goals
In our last blog post of 2023, we talked about holistic SMART goals. As a reminder, we talked about how SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timed. We discussed how the SMART goal format sets us up for success rather than confusion. Then, we saw 24 examples of SMART goals that aligned with the Wellness Wheel (review our blog series on the Wellness Wheel here).
Over the next few months, we’ll be discussing the “how-tos” of holistic SMART goals, showing you how to (1) identify your values in a given area, (2) examples of SMART goals in that same area, and (3) how to put your plan in action. Last time, we talked about spiritual goals. Today’s topic is emotional goals.
At a scientific level, emotions are complex neurobiological processes involving the brain's understanding of external stimuli or events, leading to the activation of specific neural circuits and the release of neurotransmitters (whoo, there’s some double point scrabble words!). When your brain processes external stimuli plus the context, the result is subjective feelings, physiological changes, and behavioral responses that collectively make the experience of emotions.
However, we know emotions are much more than some neurotransmitters firing in our heads. Emotions are how we experience joy, how we know we like or don’t like something, and how we know what we’re passionate about. Emotions are what all those love songs are written about, and the break-up songs, too. Emotions are something to be honored and welcomed - yes, even the ones that make us feel uncomfortable.
Want to set some holistic SMART goals for emotional wellness? The counselors at Rise and Thrive Counseling are here to help with three easy steps below!
Step #1: Identify Your Values
Emotional wellness refers to the state of achieving balance and resilience in one's emotional life, involving the ability to understand, manage, and express emotions in a constructive manner. It means being able to welcome all emotions to the table and regulate when those emotions are feeling a little big.
To determine your values in this area, consider these reflection prompts:
Reflect on the range of emotions you typically experience in various situations. Are you able to identify and express your feelings, or do you find yourself struggling to understand and communicate your emotions effectively?
Consider how you cope with stress and adversity. Are your coping mechanisms adaptive and constructive, or do you frequently resort to unhealthy behaviors as a means of dealing with emotional challenges?
Explore the quality of your interpersonal relationships. Assess the depth of connection and communication with others, evaluating whether your relationships contribute positively to your emotional well-being or if there are areas that require attention and improvement.
Examine your self-awareness regarding emotional triggers and patterns. Are you attuned to the factors that influence your emotional responses, and do you actively work towards self-regulation and emotional growth?
Evaluate your overall life satisfaction and fulfillment. Reflect on whether your pursuits align with your values and contribute to a sense of purpose, as emotional wellness is closely tied to a holistic sense of contentment and fulfillment in various life domains.
Hopefully, these reflection questions help determine (1) if this should even be a goal for you (for example, if you answered “not at all” to question one, it’s likely this isn’t relevant to you) and (2) the beginnings of a goal of what emotional wellness could look like.
Step #2: Set a SMART Goal
Use the answers to step one to determine what your goal should look like. Here are some examples to help inspire you:
By the end of February, I will make an appointment with a mental health counselor to assess my emotional wellness.
Once a week, I will journal regarding an emotion that feels uncomfortable and an emotion that feels comfortable for me.
I will use an emotion tracker daily for one month to see what disrupts my emotional wellness and what improves my emotional wellness.
Every Sunday for the next six months, I will reflect on my interactions with others for the week, noting if I need to set boundaries to preserve my emotional wellness.
Two times a week for the next three months, I will do a somatic meditation to see where my emotions are showing up in my body.
Step #3: Your Plan in Action
After you form a SMART goal based on your values and intentions, it's time to put that goal into action. Based on the examples above, here are some ways to move towards your goal:
Goal 1: working towards this goal may look like using an online directory to find a therapist that matches my needs, picking out 3-5 people you want to contact, writing an email that encompasses what brings you to therapy, and doing consults with those 3-5 people to determine best fit for you.
Goal 2: working towards this goal may look like purchasing/finding a journal, picking a day and time weekly to journaling, improving your mindfulness skills to notice what feelings are comfy/uncomfy, and using the notes app on your phone to help remind you when you encounter big feelings.
Goal 3: working towards this goal may look like finding an emotion tracker you vibe with, printing/saving the emotion tracker, finding a place to put the emotion tracker to make it easier to use, and setting a timer/reminder on your phone to complete your emotion tracker.
Goal 4: working towards this goal may look like finding a pen-and-paper or virtual way to take notes, working on your mindfulness skills to be present in the moment, and remembering to note any interpersonal interactions that impacted your emotional wellness.
Goal 5: working towards this goal may look like finding a somatic tracking meditation on YouTube that you enjoy, practicing the guided somatic meditation, setting a reminder/alarm on your phone to do a somatic tracking exercise, and utilizing a feelings wheel to help better name your feelings.
We hope this blog post helps you reflect on, set, and execute holistic spiritual SMART goals in 2024! If you want more holistic help, look no further than Rise and Thrive Counseling. Our holistic counselors can help address all areas of life. Reach out today to learn more. We look forward to hearing from you!