Let me be the first to shamelessly say it has been one heck of a year. Navigating through this seemingly apocalyptic COVID-era has been anything but rejuvenating. I know I’m not alone when I say that this season of isolation has shed light on many painful but necessary areas for self-improvement while also limiting fellowship and the ability for instant gratification. I have had days where I felt I was the most productive I’ve ever been, and then there are days when I feel like I can’t do enough. Personally, like the good alcoholic that I am, I have experienced more of the latter. Gripped with the fear of not knowing what is coming next or how to navigate another day at home, it is so hard to think about much of anything past the present moment. Planning for the future seems like a faint fantasy.
I have had to let go of future family vacations, the usual holiday gatherings, A.A. meetings, and pretty much every ounce of my “normal” routine. Setting goals and attempting to follow a routine has been hardwired in most of us, especially those in recovery. I don’t know about you, but COVID has put a damper on my “planning,” and I’ve had to make adjustments for this new virtual reality that precedes us.
No matter what life goals you are seeking to accomplish, human connection is an integral part of your success. Setting goals is hard enough when there is no global pandemic beckoning our response; however, isolation is a dream killer. Left to my own devices, I’m constantly thinking to myself, “Did I do enough today? Should I be doing more? I mean, I am working from home.” These are just a few of the insidious thoughts that creep into my brain. Without the support from the people in my circle, I would think myself into a dark, dark hole. My connection with other alcoholics, family members, and friends has helped me maintain my sanity. I have also had the opportunity to let go of all of the pressure I put on myself, being stuck in a house all day. Whether it’s a random facetime call, Zoom check-in at work, or a simple text – stay connected to your tribe.
Create a bucket list
Okay, I know this is an age-old strategy, but the first step to accomplishing some life goals is putting pen to paper. Sit down, pull out your stationery, and write down everything you would like to do if you had the time. Before you want to begin narrowing down your goals to accomplish, write down that garden you’ve wanted to start, that book you’ve meant to finish, the budget you’ve been avoiding following, or maybe it’s the new self-taught hobby you’ve never made space for. No matter what goes on your bucket list, you need to visually see what you want to accomplish. Once the list is complete, take a couple of things off of your list (without overwhelming yourself) and make the conscious decision to start with these goals.
Don’t count out your daily tasks
For me, being isolated at home cultivates a sense of never being able to accomplish enough. A considerable part of this negative thinking is due to the lack of awareness of the tasks I execute day in and day out. It’s no secret that all of our daily tasks have been majorly adjusted due to COVID-19. Whether it’s homeschooling, ordering groceries, laundry, working from home, or cooking, you must factor in all of these tasks when mapping out how you will accomplish a few of your other goals. Believe it or not, your daily tasks most likely take up a massive chunk of your day. This will help you gain perspective as you trudge forward on slaying your goals.
Prioritize the goals you can accomplish right now
One of the most beautiful rewards of this pandemic is the unveiling of how seemingly non-urgent some of our most pressing issues have become. I have come to find myself more present and less stressed about getting everything done right at this very moment. The global lockdown has forced most of us into our homes and unable to “deal” with tasks that were once manageable. I have found myself doing some of the things I put off for the more “urgent” things before. Some of these goals have helped me grow in more profound ways. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it took a global pandemic to beat me into a state of reevaluating how I have prioritized my goals and how I set out to accomplish them.
Long-term vs. Short Term
Early in my sobriety, I was told to “Keep it simple stupid.” I always used to cringe when I heard this sneaky little phrase until I truly began to understand how complex and anxious I really am. Breaking down our goals by starting out small is a great way to unearth some motivation and gain momentum – without all of the extra anxiety. I cannot count the number of times I have set seemingly impossible goals and never attempted to take a step towards them, mostly out of fear. However, when I have broken down my big dreams into smaller, attainable goals, I have come to find myself knocking one task out after the next. Here I am, 4.5 years sober, living in a beautiful home, financially independent, paying bills, working every day, and spending time with my beautiful kids. Could you imagine if I skipped over all of the work I’ve done over the past few years and went straight for the new home? The result of biting off more than I can chew is always futile. Our goals can seem insurmountable; the most important thing we can do is start with one action.
Be disciplined with your schedule
As you begin to create a plan, you must execute. The best way to hold yourself accountable is to be disciplined with the schedule you create around the plan of accomplishing your goals. Humans, by nature, are the most productive when they stick to a schedule and follow it all the way through, marking off tasks as they are completed. The idea of working from home in the place where I binge Netflix, make dinner, attempt to sleep, cook dinner, and relax with my friends would be insanity if I didn’t create a schedule to hold myself accountable. It is always easy to rest on our laurels. However, being disciplined with a schedule that allows specific times for work, family time, self-care, etc., is the best way to execute all of your goals during this virtual era.