What does goal setting look like when everything seems uncertain?
I love setting goals. It’s pretty much the only way I ever get anything done. I see goals as projects, and I align the things I do with the greater end goal I want to achieve. This year… definitely stunted my goal setting. At the end of the day, my goals are just words on a page, but all year I’ve been battling with how to set realistic goals when everything in my life is subject to change. When you set goals, you always have a vision in mind of what the end result will look like. But how can I even imagine reaching my goals and justify making them when life is so unpredictable?
Being somebody who works best with definitive endpoints, I always love the start of the new year because it feels like the start of a new chapter. I make goals around then, but I always try to start them in December or just give myself an open timeline of the whole year to work on them, as a way of not “forcing” new habits on myself. New Years is a great time to hop on board with a goal, and an easy time to find friends who are also setting goals to hold you accountable.
But, as New Year’s creeps up on me once again, I’ve been reflecting on how goal-setting worked for me this past year. I started 2020 with a list of very objective goals, not knowing some of them would take such different forms. I hoped to be more involved in the Queen’s community in 2020, and am now so much more removed from it living at home and doing my courses remotely. I never would have predicted that some of the things I felt were carved in stone would become impractical as COVID-19 settled me in one place, keeping me from roaming the world like I’d hoped to do this year.
As I approach 2021 I’ve been trying to find a way to still set goals and yet not be ignorant to all the things this past year has taught me. Nothing is ever as carved in stone as you think. It’s important to go into things with nonspecific expectations—planning every detail of things out in your head will leave you feeling disappointed. I’m learning that it’s okay to not know, to not have a plan, and to set nonspecific goals or no goals at all. After spending my whole life being an objective goal setter, I’ve reached the conclusion that, even when you don’t make concrete plans for how to follow through, goal setting can still happen. As I enter this next year, I’ve decided to reflect upon what I value most and instead of working toward objective goals, I’ll just try to realign to be a better version of myself. For me, I’m just going to work on showing kindness and being more creative. Beyond that, I’ll give the reins to 2021 and let the year itself determine how I work towards my goals.
If just doing your day-to-day is what you have your eyes set on in 2021, nobody is stopping you. You’re allowed to be happy where you are and it’s totally fair not to have the energy for crazy goal setting when our instincts are just survival right now. Do what you want and don’t let people tell you it’s wrong to do so. On that note, if you do start to set goals for next year, remember two things: 1. Goals are just ideas. Don’t feel pressured to make them. Don’t feel disappointed if you don’t meet them. It’s never the time to push yourself if you know you can’t handle it. 2. Goals are…just ideas. There are always ways to see things differently, even when it comes to your own ideas. The line between where you are and where you want to be is not straight or direct. Just whatever you do—make sure that going into this next year you do exactly what you want. Life is too short to not be happy, especially with yourself.