Setting reasonable goals and expectations during COVID-19

March 2020 was a different time for everyone. Despite the fear and uncertainty, social media feeds were alive with people declaring “pandemic goals” like learning a new skill or starting a side job. We excitedly purchased productivity planners to outline everything we hoped to achieve during the shutdown. We believed that the pandemic would be short-lived, and we were committed to making the most of a bad situation for the brief time it lasted.

But now, we’re a few months down the road and little has changed. The ongoing stress of the lockdown and its collateral damage, as well as loneliness from prolonged isolation, has gotten to us all. And now those goals, which seemed so attainable and inspirational back in March, are a source of paralyzing sadness and disappointment rather than motivation.

So where do you go from here? How do you keep moving forward while managing your expectations for yourself, and not requiring more of yourself than you can give during this time of unparalleled crisis?

Know You’re Not Alone

If you are feeling unmotivated, inattentive, or just plain sad, those feelings are completely normal. In fact, studies have found that the emotional impact of COVID-19 is similar to that of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). So if you find that you just can’t seem to “snap out of it” and don’t feel as driven to achieve as you did before, you’re not weak or silly for feeling that way.

Reward Yourself

Set small goals, but treat them like big goals and reward yourself accordingly. Celebrate small wins, like making your bed or doing the dishes, and reflect on how you feel in your daily journaling.

Don’t Fight Uncertainty

If 2020 can be described in one word, that word would be “uncertain.” It feels like things are changing every single day! So rather than set goals for yourself that may be impossible tomorrow, focus on the here and now, and set goals that are more immediately achievable. It might also help to reflect on things you’re grateful for in this difficult time. A gratitude journal can help you there!

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