Both your thoughts and actions influence your response to stress and anxiety.
With that said, developing helpful thought habits is a vital key to overcoming anxiety.
After all, it’s the mind that tends to run away with itself, dragging you along behind it in a whirlwind of anxiety.
Many people assume that by setting and meeting the right goals—making more money, losing enough weight, finding love and settling down—they will achieve an anxiety-free life.
But overcoming anxiety is less about achieving goals and more about how you work toward them. Here’s what I mean.
Why Overcoming Anxiety Isn’t About Results
If you’re like most people, you have certain goals you’d love to achieve. In fact, many people become obsessed with meeting their goals. Yet this sort of fixation can have a negative impact on your mental health.
When you focus primarily on reaching your goal, you often forget about the process or the steps that will actually get you there. Forgetting about the process communicates to your mind that you won’t be happy until you meet that particular goal.
So, what started off as motivation can quickly produce a negative frame of mind. As you may have expected, anxiety thrives in this type of mindset.
Furthermore, you may be tempted to take more drastic measures to reach your goals, unable to receive any meaningful feedback because you’re in such a rush.
While focus and determination are vital to reaching your goals, it’s important not to forget about the process in the meantime.
Why Process Goals Help Overcome Anxiety
Achieving your goal usually depends on a number of things. And many of those elements—such as the outcome of an action—are out of your control.
In other words, you may set a goal to drop three inches from your waistline. Attempting to do it by walking, you will likely become frustrated and anxious when you haven’t lost much after a few walks.
Unlike an outcome, however, a process is under your control.
For example, you may set a goal of walking four times a week rather than dropping three inches from your waistline.
Process goals are measurable, doable, and don’t serve as a welcome mat for anxiety. These goals help to keep your mind focused on elements within your control, loosening the grip of anxiety.
How to Set Process Goals
Setting process goals releases your emotions from the results. To set these types of goals, it’s essential to approach your goal from another angle.
The idea of winning or losing is ingrained in most of us. So, search for a way that you can transform your outcome goal to a process goal.
For example, if you’d like to be calmer at work, make a list of daily habits that will get you there. Exercising, 10-minute meditation sessions, and getting sufficient rest would all count as steps to achieve calm.
Rather than letting a bad moment at work get you down, focus on your process goals. Did you exercise today? What about last night, did you get enough rest? Have you meditated today?
Anxiety won’t have its usual tight grip on you if you can let go of your “failure” to achieve workplace calm. Sure, you may have gotten frustrated at the copier, but it’s okay.
Your happiness is no longer tied to the outcome. By setting process goals, you take pleasure in the actual process.
Take the first step…
If you struggle with anxiety, and you’re ready to start resolving those issues, I would like to help.
Please contact me via phone or email so we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Linda K. Laffey, MFT