What a pandemic teaches us about setting goals

January 24, 2021 by in Personal Development

Remember this time last year? We never could have imagined what would happen throughout the course of 2020, or how fast the COVID-19 pandemic would affect the entire world, governments, businesses and individuals. You, like almost every single person in the world, likely saw many dreams and plans crumble to the ground or get modified, or be indefinitely “postponed”.

What is to be expected this year is still open to speculation, and this might leave us confused as to what we should and should not plan. But what if goal-setting is actually more essential right now, in order to maintain your productivity and your sanity.

A survey conducted for the productivity app creator Evernote finds 76% of people surveyed say they are taking resolutions more seriously this year compared to previous years.

Another survey, from found that he top categories for more than half of the adults  surveyed were health, self-improvement, and money.

According to Eric Zillmer, professor of neuropsychology at Drexel University, crises such as a pandemic allow us an opportunity for self-reflection and for finding meaning in life. By setting goals for 2021, we are not allowing ourselves to become victims of the COVID crisis, but to take action by setting goals that have the potential for us to be more creative, happier, and more productive.

How to set goals and make resolutions

Many dread planning any New Year’s resolutions because they eventually fail at them and then feel guilty. The reason that happens is that we set goals but don’t have a plan for making them happen; we don’t have a daily routine. On the other hand, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have less tolerance for wasting our time. And that could be a good thing for setting goals and resolutions.

What if the pandemic was also an opportunity for us to learn to make resolutions differently now, and not just for the new year?

  • Try setting your goals according to many categories: dream goals, big goals, realistic goals, and several small, intermediate-type goals. That is what Dr. Zillmer recommends too
  • Identify why the goal is important. According to L’areal Lipkins, author of A Woman with Vision, Too often people realize they’re spending time, energy and effort on someone else’s desires. Instead, find your core “why.” Being emotionally connected to the goal will help you achieve it
  • You would also have to write your goals down, chart them and maybe even make them public, by telling your family or friends
  • Time-frame. Instead of setting goals for the year, you may prefer doing so for each 2 or 3 months. This way, you’d feel more in control despite the changes you might see happening in the world
  • Reevaluate your goals periodically, and give yourself permission to fail at them orchange them
  • Have discipline, but also allow yourself to be flexible
  • Stay on track. And to do so, you need consistency. The things you do every day will bring you closer to your goal. Lipkins recommends spending 60 minutes a day working on your goals.

And she describes our attitude so well by saying the following:

“One thing that keeps us from achieving what we want is that we think we need more time. It’s not more time you need, it’s more focus. If you devote 365 hours to goals this year, there’s nothing you can’t get done.”

Find that balance

While most of the goals we used to set we career or study-related, this year we ought to give special attention to setting personal and internal goals, as well. We need that even more now that our home have become the center of our work environment, too. For example, you may want to become more patient and more confident, or to prioritize the quality time you spend with your family, or maybe to become better at saving your money.

As the pandemic finally made us understand the importance of work-life balance, internal goals have become more important now than ever. However, we also need to acknowledge the importance of setting a new mindset along with those goals, and to set the belief that we can become better instead of ending up in self-sabotage.

Kimberly Presley, licensed clinical social worker and the clinical director at Taylor Counseling Group, suggests spending some alone time reflecting on the following categories:

  1. Personal goals: “How have I taken care of myself this year? How’s my mental health been? What is one thing I can add to my routine that involves self-care?”
  2. Household goals: Choose one area of the house to clean out in January. Freshen up a space that would make you feel proud.
  3. Relationship goals: How satisfied are you with your relationships right now? Is there one friend or relationship that you would like to be more intentional about?
  4. Spiritual goals: What’s your spiritual practice like these days? How can you get in touch with this area of your life more in the coming period of time?
  5. Work goals: How did you feel about your work-life balance this year? Your work performance? Your work relationships? Choose one part of your work life to focus on and identify a way to change it up to be something that serves you.

2020 was not a wasted year. The pandemic simply proved to us that nothing is to be taken for granted, taught us that management can be very different depending on different circumstances, and showed us the importance of flexible goals which would not make us compromise our well-being, as well as our social relationships.



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