I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impact of this crisis on how we think about and imagine the future. It’s hard to think about anything but the present moment when we are surrounded by so much uncertainty within and outside of our homes. And it is important for us to be present, to be in this moment, to pause and just be. We live in a society that has conditioned us to believe that our lives must be busy in order to be productive and meaningful. We have taken so much for granted and we now find ourselves in a position to reflect on some of these practices and change those that have been unhealthy or damaging.

This is an opportunity for us to set ourselves some new goals and new habits.

Goal setting does not mean a focus solely on the future and re-entering patterns of socialised productivity (it’s not about filling your time or being ‘busy’). It is about digging deep and really thinking about what is important to us, in and beyond this moment. We have to be hopeful, and goal setting allows us to really think about what we want to take with us and who we want to be when (God willing) this crisis ends, and if we are fortunate enough to live to see it. Setting goals allows us to keep moving in a purposeful way, whilst still being present in the here and now.

Whether the goals you want to set are related to work/ study, and/or are personal, it is really important to first sit and reflect on goals you have set in the past and to be honest with yourself as you reflect on why those goals/targets were not reached. Focus on the things that were within your control in these situations, e.g. do you lose motivation quickly, do you set goals that are too big and then struggle to recover from failure, do you set goals based on external expectations (not what you want) and give up when that external expectation is no longer there? However long you need to spend doing this reflective work, spend it. You need to be able to recognise what your limiting beliefs and practices are so that can you identify when they creep up and build the skills to tackle them along the way. I spend at least a couple of coaching sessions with my clients just focussing on values, core beliefs, and past practices (positive and negative) before we even begin setting new goals.

Below are a list of tips/suggestions you might consider as you set new goals.

  1. Take baby steps– It is important to set small goals alongside your bigger goals (e.g. if your goal sis to lose 10kg in weight overall, set yourself a goal to lose 2-3kg a week, or if you have a 10,000 word assignment that you need to complete in two months, give yourself a goal of writing 2000 words a week). A focus solely on the main/ larger goal can feel overwhelming or out of reach and it is easier to lose your motivation if something feels like it’ll take a long time to get to.
  2. Set realistic goals– Think about what you can realistically achieve based on what your life looks like right now, do not imagine different scenarios. If you work, have children, and also study, be realistic about the time that is available to you and what you can do in that time without it being detrimental to other aspects of your life. Setting goals that are realistic and attainable, can boost your self-confidence and self-esteem because it reduces the likelihood of failure.
  3. Keep your plate organised– Think about the things in your life that you do to just ‘fill time’, these things are clutter. Think about what you can remove in order to make time and space for your goals. Think carefully about time and avoid taking too much on to overcompensate for what you think is ‘free time’.
  4. Keep what you want to do– Lead your life based on your values. Set goals that are important to YOU and keep the practices in your life that give you joy and purpose. Do not remove things that do not fall under the social category of ‘productivity’ if these activities make you happy. You must trust yourself and trust in the decisions you make.
  5. Believe in yourself– It’s cliché I know, but it’s cliché for a reason. If you don’t believe you can achieve something, the goals you set will be meaningless. Take a moment to recognise the things you have already achieved (however small they may seem). Self- belief feeds your determination to accomplish your goals.
  6. Don’t go all in– It’s easy to set new goals and throw ourselves completely into it, but moderation and balance are key. Putting all your energy into a single thing may mean you burn out. Do not starve yourselves of everything else you have in life and do not try to put all your energy into your goals and then in addition try to keep up with the everyday demands of life. You risk failing at multiple things at the same time and this can really damage your self- esteem. Pace yourself, give yourself a break when you need it and be kind to yourself at all times.
  7. Reward yourself– This is important. Whatever your goal is, remember there is a time to be proud. Take moments along the journey to reflect on your achievement so far and give yourself treats along the way. This builds your confidence and motivation to keep on the right path. Be careful with what you reward yourself with so that you are not creating new conditioned thoughts that are negative. E.g. if you are trying to lose weight, do not reward yourself with food. You can have cheat meals as part of your routine, but don’t make that your reward. If food that is unhealthy becomes your reward, you associate healthy food with negativity, and it is difficult to then maintain it as a lifestyle.

I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any other tips you think may be helpful, please share them in the comment section below! 🙂