Ask yourself these five questions when setting 2021 goals.
With the vaccines and a new administration coming, many are optimistic. But we are not at the end. We are in what Harvard Business School’s Rosabeth Moss Kanter famously calls the “messy middle,” where everything is hardest.
When everything went sideways this year, we were collectively freaked out—and also energized. We bought groceries for our neighbors and protested peacefully. We bravely adjusted to massive changes in the way we work, educate our children, shop, and socialize. But in the midst of crisis, we’re seeing just how little support our society offers to working parents, the unemployed, and many others who are struggling. Our surge capacity is depleted. The adrenaline is gone. We need a hug—from someone outside of our household.
This is what happens with all big change, and the bigger the change, the more tempted we are to give up, to turn our attention to something shiny or delicious, to seek short-lived hits of pleasure in lieu of long-term meaning.
It’s too early to give up, friends. This messy middle is hard, and the coming year is not likely to be anything close to “normal.” Instead of just waiting—another year, maybe more—for it all to be over, we’ll do better to re-engage with the things that bring us meaning in life. So put down that cookie (I’m talking to myself here) and use this checklist to set your mid-pandemic course correction on the best possible path. Even if it feels like all you’re doing is trying to survive, these questions may help you gain a sense of control amid the uncertainty.
1. What do you want to take with you when this is all over?
2. What are some aspirational goals that you could set for yourself?
3. What new habit have you wanted to get into for a while now?
4. How can you invest in yourself?
5. What do you want to feel more of in 2021? Perhaps you want to feel less overwhelmed and more at peace, or maybe you want to feel more connected to others and less isolated. What behaviors or habits have, in the past, elicited the emotion that you are looking for? Maintenance habits (like cleaning up or getting to inbox zero) might make you feel less overwhelmed; finding purpose tends to make us feel more connected.
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