Bite-Sized Chunks: Achieving Goals During a Pandemic
Over the past year, the concept of success shifted. It felt as though just making it through a day was an accomplishment. After all, not many of us have experienced the isolating effects of societal lockdowns caused by a global pandemic.
As winter set in, each week seemed like a bit of a blur. Life had become more about scraping by, rather than succeeding.
As we’ve turned the corner into 2021 (and apparently are still faced with challenges), it feels like a good time to reimagine how we want to approach our goals in the short- and long-term.
Certainly, a simple change of date cannot change the state of a global pandemic. But when it comes to achieving goals, we have a different understanding of expectations — both of ourselves and others.
Depending on the kind of job you have, many things may have changed. For those who were used to a Monday-Friday, 9 to 5 schedule, what does the workday look like now? Do we even call it a work week anymore?
Working in isolation can have its benefits: fewer distractions from coworkers; no boss standing behind your desk; less “hey, sorry to bug you, but…” The thing is, working in isolation takes a completely different kind of focus to get things done.
Enter SMART goals.
The concept certainly isn’t new but SMART goals feel like they were intended for times like these. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based.
Let’s break down how they can positively impact your work and personal life during times of upheaval.
At the start of the pandemic, it seemed that everyone had a plan to take advantage of isolated free time to accomplish something grand. The challenge is when you say thing like, “I’m going to build my business!” or “I’m going to get in shape!” what does that really mean? How do you even start to accomplish those goals? It is better to make your goals specific — think “I am going to reach out to 5 contacts a week” or “I am going to train to run 10km in under an hour” — in order to narrow your focus.
Related to making your goals specific, using numbers or qualifiers in order to make your goals measurable is of equal importance. To say, “I am going to become a better networker” is a positive goal, but how can you measure that? By saying “I am going to nurture relationships with 10 colleagues and 5 friends” allows you to visualize your goal. Make sure your goals are things you can check off your list when completed.
Quite simply, make sure you can achieve your goals. This is even more important during a pandemic when we have become limited to access to certain things — like EVERYTHING. That’s not to say you can’t have lofty goals. But there is value in breaking down your large goal into bite-sized chunks so you can measure your progress and feel the sense of accomplishment. Feeling accomplished will keep you motivated!
Relevance is particularly important when it comes to business goals. Personal goals are potentially connected to ego or simple interests that aren’t really relevant to a larger picture— read: was making sourdough bread actually relevant to anyone’s goals? No. It was a way to kill time. And a tasty one.
But in terms of business goals, it is valuable for everyone on a team to understand why they are pushing towards a particular goal — and how their job is relevant to the big picture.
Without a deadline, nothing gets done. Schedules and timelines are extremely important when it comes to achieving goals. Keep in mind that schedules and plans are allowed to be changed — particularly when outside influences (helloooo, pandemic) cause plans to be derailed.
By using SMART goals, you can feel more accomplished in the short-term and be more flexible to make changes to your long-term goals as unforeseen events force you to pivot.
Think of it this way: there is no way you could eat an entire loaf of sourdough bread in one bite — trust us, we’ve tried — but by breaking it into bite-sized chunks, you’ll be surprised at how quickly that loaf will disappear.