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How to Set the Right Goals in a Post-Pandemic World

by Jamie Jackson 7 months ago in goals
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We might have had the wrong goals all along

How to Set the Right Goals in a Post-Pandemic World
Photo by Ronnie Overgoor on Unsplash

When the pandemic came along, everyone was forced to scrap their goals.

And weirdly, as the world practically stopped turning, most people seemed happy about it. Goals could wait. Everything suddenly felt less important in the context of a pandemic. Everyone had the ultimate excuse to have some time off.

It was the best of times and the worst of times. It was a tale of to-do lists. Or perhaps, in this case, a tale of not doing them.

If we want to look at setting goals that actually matter, if we want to ensure we're aiming for the right things in life, we need to look at why so many people seemed fine with letting go of the goals they set?

If we gladly give up goals at the drop of a hat, what is going on? What does make us happy? What goals should we have?

Here’s what creates happiness

The pandemic was a double-edged sword. It meant income dropped, but so did expenses. Our social lives reduced, but so did social pressures. Goals became redundant, but so did everyone's goals.

For the first time in years, we were able to just be present, in our relationships, with family, in the day-to-day activities that had been promoted from sideshows to main events.

Gardening, reading and long walks were in. Rushing around on trains and buses were out.

The pandemic removed the gnawing guilt attached to slacking off and forced us to rebound with family, friends, housemates.

As Tony Robbins noted:

“The quality of life is the quality of your relationships.”–Tony Robbins

The galvanising effect of change and uncertainty worked its magic and for the most part, relationships were strengthened as we leaned on the ones we loved the most in those weird times.

Goals got pushed aside and what really mattered came into focus.

You only appreciate what you have if you think there’s a chance you might lose it.

Goals, it seemed, don't make happiness, being present and nurturing relationships does.

Did you find this same? I heard endless podcast guests and TV personalities embarrassingly confess they felt happy and grounded. There was a pang of guilt around saying it, but the pandemic gave us a break we all needed. It was a respite.

Right, some balance. Let's not pretend the lockdowns were all good. People were alone for long periods, domestic abuse and suicide rose, as did alcoholism. But lockdown amplified living situations tenfold. If relationships were bad, they got worse. If loneliness was a factor, it got worse. If drinking was a problem, it got worse. Lockdown was an amplifier. Including amplifying the nonsense goals we all set.

For those lucky enough to be on a steady boat, lockdowns brought with them a crooked sense of community previously lost to technology, long commutes, desk-bound jobs, and endless social engagements.

We rediscovered a sense of zen.

“We are human beings, not human doings.” – Dalai Lama

We all suddenly didn’t need goals because everyone stopped running. Isn’t that remarkable? We all agreed we couldn't compete with each other so we all just stopped stressing out about it.

Goals then, don’t move the needle of happiness. Relationships do. Presence does.

When everyone is running, we feel the need to run also. When success is measured by a race, we want to compete. But in lockdown, there was no race, we were all just hanging out on the sidelines in our bubbles, just being.

Why can't we be like that all the time? Present, together, no longer running? I'm sure it can.

The more we run towards our goals, the more we seem to run from the peace of just being.

So, how do we set the right goals with this new knowledge, with these new revelations? Maybe your new goals should be about presence, time with others, reconnecting with nature. They sound trite, hippyish, but these are the things that move the needle of happiness.

The pandemic has been a strange time no doubt; both challenging and upsetting as much as any positive we can garner, but the positives were there. It’s OK to admit it, to see them, to feel them. To be them.

All I know is I didn’t set any goals for 2020 or 2021. Now, I’m going by feeling, by intuition, as the world opens back up. That's my goal setting method, goals by feeling.

If we can be happy without goals, when no one is running and competing, why can’t we do the same when the race starts over?

This might sound like utopian nonsense, and perhaps it is because I sure haven't tested it in the real post-pandemic world, but all I know is being more present seems to be where the joy is, so why not embrace it?


About the author

Jamie Jackson

Between two skies and towards the night.

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