State of Mind: My goals went from winning rugby matches to making the bed

Former top level player and coach Phil Veivers has set goals all of his life.

Whether that be during his playing days, when he made almost 400 appearances for St Helens, or his coaching stints at Salford and Workington, the Australian was always focussed on an end goal.

But when that finished, he stopped setting goals, and spiralled in to depression. Soon after, he received the news from Down Under that his nephew had taken his own life, and it was only speaking to his sister day to day that helped him – and no doubt her – through it.

Veivers, 54, is now part of the State of Mind and Offload team that goes around rugby clubs, schools, colleges and businesses delivering mental fitness sessions.

“I’ve always set goals throughout my life because I’ve been involved in sport. The next three years of my life had already been planned out, focusing on what I wanted to achieve rugby wise, it was just away from rugby that I never used to set goals.

“Every year I’d set goals on how many games I wanted to play, how many tries I’m going to score, how many tackles I’d miss, all the small things that you can control.

“I probably stopped after I finished player but when I got back in to the game through coaching, I’d set goals as a coach, team goals.

“When I went through my journey of depression, I stopped setting goals of what I was going to achieve. For some reason, I just went back to it when I got to the deepest part of the ocean and made life most simplistic.

“When you have anxiety and you have stress, it isn’t a bad thing at times, it’s how long it hangs around that’s the problem.

“Having anxiety and stress in your life you can set targets to get over that, but it’s when that stress or anxiety hangs around for an extended period of time that the problem starts.

“That’s when I started to set things I wanted to achieve and I think making the bed or washing the dishes is probably a pretty simple point.

“Every day my first goal is to make the bed. I can do that. And no matter what else happens in the day, I will have always achieved that goal.”

Veivers drew much sympathy in 2013, when having helped keep Salford together during their financial difficulties, he was fired just a month in to the season by then new owner Marwan Koukash.

It was that move that led to Veivers asking questions of himself. The move wasn’t financial and having won three of the first four games, it didn’t appear to be down to his coaching ability.

He moved on though, and returned to the game with Workington, leaving there at the end of 2016 and is currently helping as coach at the Ashton Bears community club, having been roped in to it by State of Mind colleague and ex-Wigan forward Danny Sculthorpe.

Veivers added: “I’ve been quite fortunate with State of Mind, it keeps me in the circle, and I do a bit of work for the RFL as well, so that keeps me in and around rugby league.

“I enjoyed having the last year and a bit out, I did nothing in coaching, and now I’m at Ashton to keep my hand in.

“You never say never. You don’t know what might be round the corner.”

Rugby league is the only sport in the UK to dedicate a full round of fixtures to mental fitness.