Recently, I started listening to a podcast about goal-setting, and it broke my brain.
How does one begin to set goals again in COVID times?
I’ll admit – in March 2020, I was one of the people who set big, huge goals for myself. I thought that working remotely would allow me the time and flexibility to finish a draft of my novel, and it just didn’t happen. It was partly due to the chaos of working from home with the kids here 24/7, and it was partly due to other valuable commitments I took on in 2020. I have a bit of a wistful feeling when I think back to March and April and my writing goals – but I did the best I could, and it is what it is.
Since the spring, I’ve set a few small goals, but nothing major. Life has felt too unpredictable to make big plans, and I’m not just talking COVID. Our boys have had some sleep struggles, so a good night’s sleep is not guaranteed – that really messes with my plans for early morning writing. Tamara’s work schedule has changed a few times. We’re moving forward with plans to adopt a new baby (!!!), and the adoption process is sometimes hard to plan around – there are times when there are a bunch of tasks that need to be completed IMMEDIATELY followed by long periods of continued waiting.
Now, it’s January 2021, and it does feel possible to make plans again. I made a tentative plan to meet a friend’s new baby in August 2021, and that felt radical, to even plan that far ahead. I started a blog post about a spring/summer bucket list. I started a (coming soon) 39 x 39 list. And now – I’m contemplating setting a goal.
I made a resolution, already – to connect and disconnect. It’s a good one. It covers things like sending birthday cards (connect), falling asleep without headphones in my ears (disconnect), attending AA meetings (connect), allowing time for zero input (disconnect), and texting photos of the boys to family and friends (connect).
When I contemplate goals, I mainly consider my three top priorities: family, service, and writing. If I can add one more – and I totally can, they’re my goals – I’d add health.
For me – a Rebel, according to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz – it’s best if goals flow really naturally. For example: for service, my main focus right now is contributing to legislative work being done via SURJ Baltimore. There’s no need for me to make a schedule or set benchmarks for that goal – I can attend meetings that already on the calendar and part of my routine, and I can jot down tasks and to-do lists in my planner or on our wall calendar as they pop up.
For family, I have a good system in the works as well. My main goal is to keep our household peaceful, playful, and engaged through these tough winter months with limited outdoors time and infrequent socializing. And my main means for doing so is sprinkling little surprises and activities throughout our week. I hung up a small, simple days of the week to-do list pad on the wall, and whenever I think of something we can do – break out the tent and play campout, having an Easter egg hunt with a special snack inside the eggs, do a cool science experiment, make cloud dough – I jot it down on a day for that week. It’s fun for the kids, but more than that, it keeps me feeling creative and engaged as a parent. When I’m working from home, it’s hard to pivot quickly to something fun. But if I’ve done the planning ahead of time, it makes it much easier to execute my plan.
For health – I’ve been running every day, so that’s great. I’d like to add a seven-minute workout for after my runs (Google it), and I’d like to add a few minutes of yoga every day. I’ve actually been putting on Cosmic Kids Yoga videos for me and the kids, so that’s been really doable – it’s another activity for all of us on long winter days. So nothing needs to be scheduled – I just need to remember that this is a priority for me, which should work well. I tend to have better luck with exercise habits than I do in other categories.
And then – there’s writing.
I am slowly getting back on track with early morning writing, but I’ve set zero goals for working on any fiction – and I think I want to. But I also think I’m not quite ready yet. I’d like to get a solid few weeks of early morning writing under my belt, and then evaluate what kind of goal I can set. A strong first step might just be organizing the writing projects that are all whizzing around in my mind. Who knows? I drafted a blog post about writing goals for February 23, and we’ll see how I’m doing when that date arrives.
So, these are great COVID goals – natural, flexible, doable. And they’re really just about leaning into what I’m already doing. Cheers to surviving a cold winter by focusing on what really matters!