Therapy with a treatment plan, that handy guide to setting and achieving your emotional and behavioral goals, holds the therapist and client to accountability and boosts the potential for positive change.
You can also make a self-improvement plan, something simple, easy to implement, and effective.
There is some similarity to the treatment plan you might use in therapy, except you can do this on your own (or with a friend, adviser, or even if you like, your therapist.)
Step 1: EVALUATION
If you wanted to buy a car, you’d probably think about your travel needs, the kind of usage you’d be subjecting your auto to, the expense, what’s in your budget, and how to pay for it, the car’s safety, styling, gas mileage, and other features, and what you really wanted.
You’d research and evaluate before making a decision.
When was the last time you sat down and thought objectively about you and your life?
Why not begin today?
Start by setting aside at least 30 minutes to ask yourself the following questions. In the areas that ask for ratings, use a scale of 1-10, 10 being absolutely yes, and 1 being absolutely no:
Do the 168 hours you live each week seem packed with joy, energy, positivity and healthful relaxation?
When you go to sleep each night do you feel mostly happy about how you spent your day?
When you wake up in the morning do you feel positive about the day ahead?
Do you feel you’ve grown as a person in the past year? What about in the past six months? What about the past month? What areas of growth are strongest? What areas need improvement?
Are there things about yourself and how you relate to the people you live with, work with, and socialize with that you’d like to change? What are they?
What are the positive things the people in your life say, feel and think about you? Can you focus on strengthening these positive attributes?
If there are negative attributes, you might want to list one or two.
Don’t be daunted–the goal isn’t to get a 10 in every area, and to answer every question with a positive, superlative answer, but to get to know yourself and find a comfortable place to be holding.
Step 2: GOALS
Determine which areas would help you move up on the rating scale, above, and identify where improvement is needed.
For example, you feel you could find ways of managing your anger better, or perhaps you’d like stronger, healthier friendships in your life.
Or you’d like to feel less anxiety or have the courage to try new things. Maybe you’d like to simply develop a more positive attitude.
Start by setting only up to three personal goals. You’ll begin by addressing only one of these, but keep the others on the list for the future. Sometimes when we strive to consciously improve in one area, we find that we’ve automatically improved in others.
Step 3: ACTION PLAN
Choose which goal to work on.
Identify three to five actions you can take to help you reach your goal.
For example, if you want to work on staying calmer and avoiding anger, you might 1. research and read a book about managing anger 2. write an affirmation and say as often as needed to help you control your anger and 3. think and reflect on the deeper reasons behind your anger, when you first noticed anger was becoming an issue for you, and what other feelings arise when you feel angry and 4. ask a friend or family member to help you stick to your goals.
Give yourself a time frame in which to improve.
Maybe you feel you’d like to review after month to see if you’ve improved but you might want to give yourself three months to make lasting changes.
Step 4: CHECK IN & REVIEW
Check in with yourself daily. Ask yourself before you go to sleep each night–did I improve in this area today? Am I moving towards my goal.
Check in weekly. Review your plan. Do you need to update or change it, or is it working well the way it is? View your plan as a living, breathing document, one that you can change to support your changing self.