We’ve just entered February, and I have to say that I’m not quite sure where January went. It just whooshed right past me!

At the beginning of the year, we usually plan our goals for the year ahead, but with the pandemic there has been so much uncertainty that most of us might be thinking, “Why bother?”. I know it’s not easy to set goals in the current circumstances, but they’re critical for your physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. Goals give you direction and purpose; they give you focus, and a reason to get out of bed in the mornings. Because of how challenging 2020 was – a year that nobody will ever forget – and because of the uncertainty of this year, you may be hesitant to set goals. Many goals that you had for 2020 didn’t materialise, and you might and this difficult to accept. But please remind yourself that achieving those goals was most likely beyond your control, rather than because you were complacent or procrastinating.

So, here we are in a new year, and we need to set new goals. What’s different this year is that goals must have a shorter timeframe. In the past, you might have set 12-months goals, but right now you should set short, three-month goals. The benefit is that three months has the ideal balance in that it is neither too short nor too long. You’re likely to have control over the next three months, and, most importantly, you’ll feel optimistic in attaining the goal. Long-term goals will increase your current anxiety and overwhelm. Besides, who needs that additional pressure? Rather be kind and gentle on yourself and set small, bite-size goals. But please do set them, and keep the momentum going. Once you’ve attained those goals, you can set new ones when you’re ready. You can’t ignore this, believing that once the pandemic quietens down you’ll get into action. Get going today!

Let’s get practical with these six easy steps to set your short-term goals.

Step 1: List all the goals you want to achieve this year.

Step 2: Prioritise the goals you can achieve in the next three months. Leave the other ones for the next three months.

Step 3: Describe what you want to achieve.

Step 4: Make a note of why this goal matters to you right now. What will be different when you’ve attained it?

Step 5: Differentiate whether it’s a learning goal or a performance goal. The purpose of learning goals is to develop or acquire an attribute, behaviour, or skill set. Performance goals involve mastering or enhancing a skill that results in improved performance. By nature, performance goals can be learned in shorter time periods such as three months, whereas learning goals might need six or even nine months to become an automatic habit.

Step 6: Is about evaluation, and for you to choose progress indicators that will give you a sense that you’re moving forward in attaining the goal. The evaluation step is critical as it will provide the motivation and commitment to continue. It will give you an opportunity to make changes to your goal strategy if progress isn’t going in the direction you want.

Here is a Goal Matrix to print, complete, and monitor.

My three-month goal matrix

My Goals Long-term Goal Short-term Goal Describe the Goal Why does the goal matter right now? Learning Goal

Improve my energy levels

X I want to be more aware of what I eat, how much I exercise, and how much rest I’m getting. I feel as if I’m not taking proper care of my body and mind, which is impacting my work and family relationships. X (New habits)

I know that setting goals is not easy for us to do right now. Some days we’re all red up, and on others we’re listless and worn out by all the negative news. Setting goals will be

good for you because it will ground you, give you purpose, make you feel as if you’re in control, and it will reduce your stress levels.

Even with this pandemic forging ahead, you can begin to lead the life you want!

About the Author: Kerstin Jatho

Kerstin is the senior transformational coach and team development facilitator for 4Seeds Consulting. She is also the author of Growing Butterfly Wings, a book on applying positive psychology principles during a lengthy recovery. Her passion is to develop people-centred organisations where people thrive and achieve their potential in the workplace. You can find Kerstin on LinkedIn, Soundcloud, YouTube and Facebook.

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