Setting Goals in a Pandemic
Over the past couple of months, we have all been sheltered at home – businesses and schools closed, cafes, pubs, restaurants shut and most people working and communicating digitally in these unprecedented times. At the moment, I seem to be going from sessions on Zoom to meetings on Teams and then I’m back on Zoom again! My coaching sessions, lectures and personal time with friends are all online. Honestly, as I write this, the next few months seem quite unknown too. What’s going to happen with the virus, the economy, what will be the new rules and regulations, will kids go back to school? Well, like you, I just don’t know.
So if there is so much uncertainty around us, is there even any point in setting goals now? My answer is yes. We may not have any control over the pandemic but we have absolute power in choosing the way we live over the next three months despite all the uncertainty that surrounds us. “I’m so stuck” – this is a phrase I hear constantly amongst my clients, classmates and even friends. If you ask me, it’s waiting and reacting to the pandemic that causes stagnation. So, I want to encourage you all to make some powerful decisions and set some real goals. Here are a couple of options or challenges I’d like to offer:
Set ten achievable goals: For this part of the challenge I’m inviting you to set ten achievable goals. So when I mean achievable goals, we are looking at setting goals that you can accomplish in the next three months (May, June and July). So these short-term goals can be new or they could be an upgrade to your existing one. For instance, if you want to do a physical activity like running or hiking (in the U.K. you can leave the house for exercise once a day while practising social distancing) but you haven’t had a chance to do it yet, then that becomes a new possible goal that you can set. Now if you have been running, let’s say 5km three times a week, an upgrade could mean 8km three times a week or 5km five times a week. If you haven’t meditated before but want to do it now, then that’s a new goal, but if you want to meditate for 30 minutes now instead of 15, then that’s the upgrade. You see where I’m going with this. So for the months of May, June and July, I want you to try and set ten possible goals. As an example, I’ll share some of mine – write an article for my blog every week, add a home machine workout three times a week to my runs/walks, make short videos for my website, de-clutter my kitchen cabinets, take on three new clients, create and run group coaching sessions, increase research work by an hour a day and so on. It’s not enough to just set goals but it’s important to set SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound goals. If this sounds intriguing and you want to give it a go, here’s a plan. Step 1: this week set some time to write out the ten possible goals you want to achieve in the next three months. Step 2: visualise and go to the time when it’s the end of July and feel what it feels like to have accomplished those goals. Step 3: Make a detailed time-bound plan on how you would put each goal into action. Be specific. Step 4: Get an accountability partner. Step 5. Have fun accomplishing your goals and be super proud of yourself for taking massive action to get them going.
Set one momentous goal: For this part of the challenge, I want you to rewind and go back to the start of 2020 or to the end of 2019 and think of the goals you set then. What was important to you back then and what goals resonated with your values? What was on your mind before the pandemic hit and is there any goal that you have postponed or simply let go of? For instance, was 2020 the year that you were going to make a career shift? Or the year you decided to write a book or go back to University? But now you’ve had to put it on hold due to the pandemic? If you have, then this is the time to bring that goal back and connect with your long-term vision. I understand that at this time, it’s common to have multiple negative thoughts and many anxious moments where you feel you can’t handle anymore. But my friends, this is truly the time to allow yourself to see what you are really made off and to see what you can create. When you take a possibility that seems impossible and state it as something that’s truly possible for yourself, then your life changes. I invite you to set one meaningful, mammoth and momentous goal for yourself for 2020. You have seven months to achieve it. Instead of being stressed out about what you can’t do think about what you can do. I’ll share my momentous goal with you. At the start of 2020, I wanted to take my coaching skills deeper this year and offer specialised coaching sessions for people post-trauma and for those experiencing posttraumatic growth (growth following highly challenging situations). Once the pandemic hit, this vision of my mine disappeared into the background and I was like most people scrambling with the massive changes that hit us. A month into the lockdown, I started re-visiting my goal and now I have an action plan to set it in motion. So if there is that big goal lingering in the background, now is the time to bring it up front.
We have no control over the pandemic, but we have absolute control on how we can to respond to it – we have control over our thoughts, feelings and actions. I want to end this piece with an inquiry – What do you want your life to look like in December 2020? That’s it for today. My friends, stay safe, stay healthy and go set some awesome goals!