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This Year Has Proven Having Goals is Only Half the Battle
Habiba Katsha explores her tricky relationship with goals
No one would have predicted the events that occurred this year. In 2020, we’ve experienced a global pandemic, a racial uprising, and numerous countries facing a recession. To say this year has been difficult is an understatement. Regardless of the current state of the world, it was still important for me to try to reach my goals. I’ve always been quite ambitious, and I’d describe myself as a perfectionist. My life consists of me trying to reach specific goals, and being in lockdown increased my desire to work on myself.
Like everyone, the pandemic was a huge shock to the system. At first, the idea of working from home felt nice, but I slowly began to resent how much time I would soon be spending indoors “wasting time”. Being in quarantine completely ruined my routine. I felt the struggle of mixing my home and work life together, which made it difficult to focus on my goals.
I felt the struggle of mixing my home and work life together, which made it difficult to focus on my goals.
In the middle of the pandemic, I felt frustrated with myself. I realized that I had not (and probably would not) achieve a majority of the goals I set out for myself for the year. Though it’s completely out of my hands, I still felt somewhat like a failure. One of these goals was passing my driving test. This is something I had booked early in the year and had to cancel due to the pandemic. When I had to cancel my test, I was annoyed, because this was something I really wanted to do. But then I started to realize that this wasn’t my fault. As time went on and it registered to me that the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, I began to focus on the bigger picture.
Goals are important, but if this year has taught me anything, it’s made me realize how many external factors influence the goals we set for ourselves.
“We should set intentions for our year, rather than goals, as goals tend to have to be achieved by an endpoint,” said Vix, a personal brand consultant. “The whole point of goals is that they’re measurable and timely, but you’re in a pandemic, and you can’t always achieve those goals because of outside circumstances. It’s not about you not being timely or you aiming for too many things, but there are these outside circumstances beyond your control.”
When you have a Type A personality, it’s hard to detach yourself from being productive and setting goals. Always having something to do or somewhere to go is often worn as a badge of honor by people who pride themselves on being productive.
But what happens when lockdown forces you to be still?
You can find yourself questioning your identity and maybe even sometimes questioning who you are without being busy. Though I enjoy having fun, I felt somewhat lost when I was required to slow down. It’s hard for me to stray away from goals without feeling like I’m being lazy.
It’s hard for me to stray away from goals without feeling like I’m being lazy.
Vix said when we start to doubt what we’ve achieved, we have to step away from everything and look back at everything we’ve done. She thinks people need to start celebrating their small wins.
“Every time you start feeling bad about yourself, go to your evidence bank,” said Vix. “My coach told me to create it and put it into Google Docs. Every Friday, I put all of my little steps of things I’d achieved into the Google Doc. Every time I told myself I wasn’t making progress or achieving my goals, I just look at my list and see all the little things I’ve done to work towards them.”
And we near the end of the year, this is when most people usually become quite reflective. For myself, December is all about looking at how I can do better next year, but I don’t think I realized how hard I can be on myself. Sometimes existing is enough.
I’m still aiming to make goals for myself, but I’m trying to make intentional goals I can still achieve whilst being in a pandemic. More importantly, I’m trying to remind myself that we are in a pandemic. It’s okay to feel frustrated, angry, or upset at the state of the world. And we don’t always need to be productive. We should give ourselves more grace instead.
“It’s about setting goals where you know, without a doubt, you’ll be able to achieve them,” Vix said. “Set the kind of goals that are easily achievable for you so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. On top of everything, have grace for yourself.”