4 Healthy Tips for Setting Goals When the Future Is Unclear

Goal-setting isn't canceled in 2020—it just looks different.

Setting sights on the future can be a daunting task right now. With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic dictating our calendars and rewriting the days, weeks, and months as we know them, it may seem easiest to just throw out the agenda and go along with the whims of the world. However, while staying in the present has its benefits, we don’t have to give up on looking into the future altogether; we just need to shift how we’re going about it.

After all, the point of planning ahead and setting goals isn’t simply to achieve them with a 100% success rate but, instead, to create things to look forward to and work toward. Dr. Carla Manly, licensed clinical psychologist and wellness expert, advocates for a mindful approach to goal-setting, which starts with being appreciative of where you are now and then planning for where you want to be in the future. She recommends starting with two basic questions: “What do I want?” and “What do I need?” From there, she says, you can ask yourself how soon you want or need to reach a certain goal and start considering what steps you need to take to get there. So, if you decide you need to establish a better morning routine, you can lay out small goals—like planning to take a walk before starting the work day—throughout the week or month ahead to help you do so.

Another key to setting goals during the pandemic is to adjust to the times. Dr. Manly says she’s seen many of her clients get frustrated and depressed because “people are still trying to set goals with a sense that the world will meet prior expectations and that life will be predictable.” So, being flexible and willing to compromise with your goals is especially important right now. For larger goals, Dr. Manly recommends checking in with your progress every couple of months so that you can reset or restructure your plans as needed.

Keep reading for more of Dr. Manly’s tips for setting goals that will promote a healthier mindset and keep you forward-focused during the pandemic.

“If you’re happy at home, almost anything else in the world feels more doable,” Dr. Manly says.

So instead of worrying about creating the perfect five-year plan or tackling the list of things you want to accomplish by a certain age, start by figuring out what you need to create a more comfortable and enjoyable life for yourself right now.

Filed Under