Goal Setting and Social Anxiety Disorder

Set goals to overcome social anxiety.
Goals must be realistic for you to succeed.. Yuri_Arcurs / Getty Images

Goal setting can be helpful in overcoming some aspects of social anxiety disorder (SAD). Below are some tips to help you set and achieve goals in relation to your SAD.

Tools for Goal Setting

If one of your goals is to work on your social anxiety, you may find the following website useful.

"Psychology Tools" includes a variety of free downloadable resources for a variety of psychological disorders including SAD.

You will find the following on the website:

  • Assessments for SAD
  • SAD Treatment manuals
  • Research studies on SAD
  • Information sheets about SAD
  • Worksheets for SAD
  • Self-help programs for SAD

Whether you are looking for self-help tools to work on social anxiety on your own, currently receiving therapy and looking for additional resources or you are a professional looking to share your own worksheets, the website may be a valuable resource.

The Best Types of Goals

An acronym often used in relation to goal setting is "S.M.A.R.T." 

S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, you might choose a goal to make five new friends this year. Your goal is specific (5 friends), measurable (whether or not you meet this target), attainable (if you work hard at meeting new people), realistic (many people have at least 5 friends) and timely (to be achieved in the next 12 months).

An example of an unrealistic goal would be to never feel anxiety in social and performance situations.

Such black and white thinking sets you up for failure, as you will probably always feel some anxiety in those situations.

Steps for Goal Setting

1. Identify your goals

What would you like to change with respect to your social anxiety? Choose short, medium, and long-term goals in areas such as:

  • Making new friends
  • Getting a job
  • Becoming physically healthy

Be careful not to let your anxiety get in the way of choosing goals. Identify goals without any regard for how anxious they might make you feel.

Be sure to also write down your goals to make sure you stick to them.

2. Break goals into chunks

For example, if your goal is to make one phone call each day, start by choosing who you will call and making sure that you have the right phone number.

3. Identify obstacles

What might get in the way of you making 5 new friends? Identify those challenges and find ways to work around them. Join a club or take lessons of some sort to meet people if you don't cross paths with others often. 

4. Schedule goals

Plan a regular time that you will work toward your goal. In the example of making 5 new friends, schedule regular activities that will put you into contact with prospective buddies. For example, you could visit the gym at the same time each week in the hopes that you may run into the same people each time.

5. Complete your goal

You may need to write down the exact steps you will take to achieve your goal. For the new friends example, this might mean writing down steps such as conversation starters, how to keep the conversation going, etc.

Motivation to Achieve Goals

Having goals to work on your social anxiety won't do much if you are still lacking motivation. Be sure to identify obstacles that prevent you from becoming motivated, such as believing things will never change, and challenge these roadblocks. 

Reward or Revise

If you have succeeded at your goals, reward yourself. If not, then revise to make success more likely the next time around.


Anxiety BC. Guide for goal setting. Accessed June 29, 2016.

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