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How to Accomplish Your Goals While Living with Panic Disorder

Don't Let Panic and Anxiety Get in the Way of Your Achievements

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Updated October 09, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Accomplish Your Goals While Living with Panic Disorder

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Do you have goals that you are hoping to accomplish this year? Your goals may include aspects of your career, relationships, health, and other areas of your life. Perhaps you even have goals that relate to your diagnosis of panic disorder, such as seeking out treatment options, choosing a therapist, and reading self-help books for panic disorder.

Many of us will make well-intentioned resolutions, only to give up on them all too soon. We may start off feeling very motivated, but quickly lose interest. Falling short on your goals may make you feel guilty and disappointed. So how is that you can successfully accomplish what you have set out to do? Below are some tips to help you accomplish your goals while living with panic disorder.

Identify Your Goals

Deciding what our goals are may seem easy at first. However, many people fall short on their goals because they have not clearly defined them. The most attainable goals are those that are thoroughly identified, focused, measurable, and realistic. Listed here are two examples of goals that are well-defined and planned out.

Examples:

One popular goal is to achieve physical fitness, which is often accomplished through weight loss and physical exercise. In order to make this goal more focused and attainable, you will need to ask yourself what it is exactly that you want to accomplish. Consider what it would mean to achieve your goal. Perhaps you desire to attain a specific weight loss number, look better in your clothes, lower your cholesterol, or increase your energy levels. These goals are clearly defined, focused, and measurable.

A common goal for people with panic disorder is to develop strategies to get through panic attacks. Your overall goal can be clearly defined as developing and employing relaxation techniques, with the desired result being less frequent and intense panic attacks.

Break It Down

A goal can be more readily achieved when it is divided into smaller steps. This can help you stay motivated by continually completing tasks while remaining focused on the big picture. Once you have your goal broken down into steps, it is important that you write it down. Writing down your smaller steps in a calendar can be extremely beneficial for staying on task and reviewing your progress. Let’s consider how the two examples of physical fitness and managing panic attacks can be broken down into stages.

Week one of your goal towards physical fitness can be written down like this:

  • Monday: Contact several local gyms to discuss facility amenities, pricing options, and free trial offers.
  • Tuesday: Narrow gyms down to your top two choices and sign up for free trials.
  • Wednesday: Go to one gym and work out for one half hour after work.
  • Friday: Try out another gym, again exercising after work.
  • Saturday: Based off of the facility, price, staff, and location, decide which gym you would like to join.
  • Sunday: Join local gym. Plan out workout schedule for the coming week.

One way to work on developing coping techniques for panic disorder is to write down a plan and set aside time so that you can work on these skills on a regular basis. For example, you can make it a goal to try a deep breathing exercise for 10 minutes in the morning and again for 5 minutes in the evening. Once you have done this breathing exercise for three weeks straight, you may want to increase the amount of time you practice. You may also consider adding on another strategy, such as following your deep breathing with a progressive muscle relaxation exercise.

Reward Yourself

When you do accomplish the small steps or your ultimate goals, make sure you take the time to reward yourself along the way. The reward you give yourself should be kept in perspective and match the goal that you have achieved. For example, if you make it to the gym as any times as you had set out for in a given month, reward yourself with something reasonable, such as buying new exercise clothes. A reward like this will keep you motivated and will be an incentive to stay on track.

Your rewards don’t need to be pricey or cost any money. For instance, if you have followed your plan all week to practice your relaxation skills, consider rewarding yourself by spending time on self-care, such as reading, taking a bath, going for a walk, watching a favorite movie, or visiting with family and friends.

Review Your Progress

From time to time, it is a good idea to review your goals to make sure that you are remaining on task and moving forward. You may discover that the goal you set was a little unrealistic. For example, maybe you first wanted to go to the gym for one hour every day of the week. Over time, this goal may have become too difficult to achieve. You may even have given up completely because of how unattainable this goal became. When you take the time to review your goal, you can consider revising it so that you can successfully accomplish it. You may decide that going to the gym for 45 minutes, 3 times a week is more doable.

Reviewing your goals also allows you to take the time to see how far you have come. For instance, you may no longer need to keep timing your relaxation techniques, finding that strategies like abdominal breathing or visualizing have become a regular part of your routine. By reviewing your goal, you may decide you are ready to dedicate more time and effort towards coping with anxiety, such as practicing desensitization or keeping a panic attack diary.

Conclusion

Regardless of the types of goals you wish to achieve, it is important to clearly define them. Once your goals have been identified, you can then break them down into smaller and more attainable steps. Whether you have accomplished a small part of a goal or the entire goal, remember to reward yourself along the way. As you move forward in attaining your goals, take the time out to review your progress. From there, determine if you need to revise your goal or pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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