The weather has held well enough for now, but after Thanksgiving is over, it will very likely change. As quarantine drags on and those of us with at least enough responsibility to fill a thimble settle into a winter without much physical contact beyond that which is strictly necessary*. And that means the time has come to make some goals and create some goals.
Aim for The Right Target
As I see it, on this occasion plans come in three varieties: economic, psycho-social and physical. Each one represents a broad category of basic human need (in so much as economic in this case includes the ability to provide yourself with basics such as shelter and food) and should be planned for. While everyone’s needs will vary, it is worth asking yourself some questions to aid in the creation of productive and achievable goals.
What are my immediate needs? How prepared am I to meet them currently? How could this change? What can I do to mitigate negative change in the short term (6-12 months)? What skills and talents do I have now? How might I best use them? What skills and talents would be natural growth from my current skill set? What resources do I have access to in order to help me grow those skills? Which of those skills would be the most valuable to pursue? Which can I reasonably pursue?
What level of social interaction am I comfortable with right now? How can I meet my needs safely for myself? How can I meet my needs in ways that are safe for others? What social interactions can be completed digitally? What tools will I need to meet those needs? What tools do I find intuitive and easy? How can I use those to meet my needs?
What are my physical needs? Do I need medications to maintain my health? Do I need ways to obtain that supply that are safer/more reliable than the ones that I have now? Have I been neglecting my exercise needs? How can I get back on track in a safe way? What spaces do I have at home/in my quarantine area to assist me? Have my eating habits changed in a way that is detrimental to my well being? What can I reasonably do to amend those changes? What resources do I have to support my goals?
Yes, these are big questions. But if you want to have achievable goals then it is the place to start. Next up:
Creating and Winnowing Your List
Now, you can get as crazy as you like. List every goal, big and small. All of them. No shame, no judgement, don’t worry about it. Just list the things you want to do. If you come up with 30 or 300, its all good. But its also not the final list. Once you have all of them you are going to do two things.
- Strike the goals that do not have practical application. You probably can’t visit Japan right now. You might be able to open that etsy shop you’ve been thinking about if you have the tools and skills (or can learn them)
- Look for duplicate goals. Its more likely to have happened than you think. And sometimes it happens in the form of a broad goal “Lose 20 lbs” and smaller goals that support that large step “Exercise three times a week” and “Don’t drink soda”. When you find them, go ahead and categorize them. It would be better to count the smaller goals with the larger one as the hoped end result. You may wonder why? Because if you eat better and exercise more, but do not lose the 20 pounds you have still accomplished a lot, and helped your health, and you won’t feel like a failure. So choose to work towards what you can control and not its final outcomes**.
Dealing with List Issues
Lets say you’ve done all this and your list is wrong. It can happen, but its not an end point. Find your issues on this list and you can hopefully get on track.
My List is Short
That’s okay. As long as you’ve been honest with yourself and these goals are achievable then you’re fine. Remember, we’re not getting rid of the ones you struck. They’re just held for later. You can add more goals whenever you are ready. Just do one last review to be sure you didn’t miss anything essential and you are good to go.
No, Really Short. Like NO Goals Short
Then you have a question to ask yourself. Am I striking these goals because I don’t like them? Or because I don’t have the resources to meet them. If you don’t want them… I can’t help you. Motivation is intrinsic and perhaps talking to someone you trust (or a professional) is a better place to begin.
If its lack of resources, then you are in a bit more of a pickle. But it does not mean you are without goals. You just need to dial it back a bit. Take a step back and re-attenuate your goals to taking steps to attain the resources that you need to move towards that goal. I won’t lie, you have a longer road ahead of you, but progress can be made eventually. Just don’t buy into the myth our culture holds that asking for help is bad, its not.
Its Too Long
If you’ve narrowed it down correctly, and you still have a list as long as your arm, then you are going to have to set priorities. Keeping the goals in their categories, number them from most important to least important. Then you can set a percentage. Would you be happy if you had done 60% of the goals? 50 if you hit all of the numbers 1-3 in each category? Be reasonable with yourself and if you happen to get more done, great. But promise yourself you won’t beat yourself up if you hit the target you set.
And now I think we all have a lot of thinking to do. I’ll see you all on the other side! Lists in hand, hopefully ready to meet a motivated friends.
*and of course those with less than that will do what they have been doing this whole time – make things notably worse for all of us with their selfishness and arrogance. They are bad people and should be treated as such.
**Yes, this feels counterproductive, but I will point out that 1. Big goals are the ones we are most likely to fail at (and all long term projects need momentum to succeed) and 2. We could all stand to be a bit nicer to ourselves right now.