You Can Manage Stress by Setting Goals

Being future-oriented makes a difference when it comes to responding to the effects of stress.  Our research shows, though, that only about one-third of first responders say they either “often” or “always” set both short- and long-term goals and update them at appropriate intervals.  About the same number say their either “rarely” or “never” do!

It has been said that “when there is no faith in the future there is no power in the present.”  Are you setting specific goals for the future?  Do you know how to go about reaching those goals?  One of the best ways to make it through each day feeling less stressed is developing the ability to prioritize what needs to be done.  Don’t let the important things you are trying to accomplish get bumped out of the way by all of the interruptions that tend to come along.  Make every day count, and take one day at a time.  I tell people all of the time, just put one foot in front of the other and move in the right direction.  When you have set, and continue to reach, appropriate goals in your daily life, you will experience increased motivation, become better at decision making, you’ll perform better on projects, you will find that you have better work-life balance, and overall, you will enjoy an enhanced quality of life.

Keep your eyes are on the future.  Directing your attention towards the time ahead changes the way you think. It becomes easier to resist temptations. You become more motivated to put forth your best effort, and you are consistently clarifying your goals.  Consider how your future will be affected if the following things are true for you:

  • Take initiative at work and assume more responsibility.  If you have the opportunity for additional continuing education and training, take it.
  • Devote your leisure time to activities that can reward you in the future.  Learn a new language, start a vegetable garden, or read inspiring books.  Spend time with family and friends, solidify relationships, and make great memories for the years ahead.
  • Think about your financial goals, and practice saving money.   Have an emergency fund, set up college funds for your children, and put money aside for your retirement.  Stick to your budget and make wise investments.
  • Examine how your actions affect your health.  Your already know that regular exercise and a nutritious diet protect your heart and make it easier to maintain a healthy weight.

You will be more successful when you look ahead, track your progress, and adjust your strategies when necessary.  And you’ll be more resilient.  Circumstances are always changing, so when those changes are uncomfortable, being future-oriented helps you focus on the good things that are yet to come.

Today, embrace the future.

Self-Reflection Questions:

  1. Why is it worthwhile to exchange short term gains for long term benefits?
  2. How can I balance living in the present with preparing for the future?
  3. What are three lifestyle changes I can make to enhance my future well-being?

If you’d like to speak to one of our peer support specialists about how to manage the stress of work or life in general, feel free to reach out to us at m.me/callforbackup.org/ and someone will be happy to chat with you.  If you are in crisis, please text the keyword BADGE to the National Crisis Text Line where you can be connected to a trained crisis counselor, 24/7/365.  Always free.  Always confidential.

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Published by Chaplain David Edwards

David is a police chaplain, author, and educator, and is affectionately known as "Pa" to his grandkids. David is board certified in crisis response and pastoral counseling, and is an approved instructor for the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation and member of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association.

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