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Setting Business Goals When You Have Depression, PTSD or Bipolar Disorder

Part of our series on mental health for business professionals.

By Peter Zawistowski

When thinking about goals and tasks, maintaining routines is very important — especially for the person with depression, bipolar disorder, or PTSD. (We will use depression when we mean depression, PTSD or bipolar disorder.) It’s easy to get caught up with the pressure of deadlines, the expectations of your role at work, and trying to balance a social life. Specific times set aside for spouse, friends, leisure time, and even mealtime can bring a sense of stability to individuals coping with depression.

Related: How Are You, Really?

Goal setting in business is not that different than goals for personal use. One of the main differences is that personal goals are used to benefit the individual, while goals for business affect the individual, co-workers, and the supervisor. By its nature, depression disrupts the goals for work, goals for life, and even daily plans.

When you set a business goal, start with an assessment of the present situation in relationship to the goal. This could be a major project extending over a long period of time or working with a team of individuals.

The next step in goal setting is to set up a short-term objective. One question you should ask about your short-term goal is, “Why does the goal matter?” If you cannot answer that question, then the goal may be a task, and only a part of a goal. Also, goal setting using arbitrary dates will be difficult to keep.

When a depressed individual is in a stable mood, work objectives and goals seem to be obtainable as well as reasonable. When moods become unstable, such as with depression or anxiety, individuals are self-absorbed and constrained in their thoughts. Helplessness and hopelessness often result. Depressive moods can exhibit little outward physical energy and little emotional resources. Mood shifts can impair your interpretations of the goals you have set. If the goals do not have good, reasonable thinking when they are set, mood shifts can tear any goal apart.

Related: HR for Integrators

After setting your first short-term goal, and before you set an another one, look for the big picture. Your first small goal is the first step. The big picture is knowing where to go. When you make the next small goal, make it so it will end later in the schedule and again ask, “Why does this goal matter?” Keep setting short-term goals until you get to your final short-term goal. Now the combination of all the short-term goals make up the long-term goal. As you can see, a good part of the job is proper planning.

Those who have achieved a high level of independence have done so with goal setting, prioritizing goals, and setting personal work limits. Individuals who often do not set goals and limits are defenseless against obsessive behavior. Obsession can have positive and negative outcomes. Mastering a skill in a new area could result in less time spent with family. One can spend too much time being extremely organized. If the goal is exciting, then obsession and fixation on the goal can happen and family and friends can be abandoned. Neglect of others and self-indulgence are traits of mania and hypo-mania (excessive activity or excitement) — the opposite of depression. Again, we need to get back to the importance of balancing work, life, friends and fun.

Related: Being Mindful