Goal-setting – a skill I learned well in my twenties – usually stands me in good stead when I want to get things done. Finish a doctoral degree, declutter a house, learn a new crochet stitch? Set a goal. Job done!
Although 2020 brought many problems as COVID-19 spread around the world, I managed to maintain my usual goal-setting skills. A couple of lockdowns hardly fazed me. Instead, I enjoyed the peace and not having to go out.
Living in Western Australia, still able to move, work and play freely, reminds me how lucky we are. No restrictions, no masks. Only hard borders to the outside world and the other states tells us of the pandemic. Oh, and the media! Another story altogether.
This year brought a set of problems, different from COVID-19 to my family. We were rocked to our core by the tragic death of my younger daughter, Anne, on 27 December 2020. Loss, grief and mourning take their toll. They demand commitment and hard work. For months, I felt old and frail. My gait and fitness slowed. My coping skills took a hard knock.
I had to learn all over again the ways to get on with life. As I learned, I wrote blogs about strategies. Baby steps on the road to recovery after loss. Poetry, permission and how to make lentil soup. Over the past couple of months, things have improved. Although I still miss and mourn Anne, the pain has diminished, a little. As well, I’ve regained some momentum. I’m fitter, faster and no longer simply ‘get on with things’.
Serendipity to the rescue
A few years ago, I joined a Mastermind Social Media group (with Amanda Kendle Consulting) when I wanted to improve my blogging skills. Earlier this year, I decided that that commitment no longer worked well for me. I didn’t enroll for the first semester. Instead, I began to think again about writing a novel, a dream I’d almost given up on.
At the beginning of this semester, however, Amanda restructured our blogging group (Almost Famous) to target more accurately the current needs of participants. The group would include writers of different types. We were interested in social media, but as well would have an additional common goal. Other groups she facilitates include people with different common interests.
When I received Amanda’s email, I couldn’t help but think how serendipitous this news for someone interested in writing. The new initiative was completely unforeseen. I enrolled.
Goal-setting and accountability
The group meets regularly, either face-to-face or through Zoom. We’ve now outlined our long term goals in terms of writing. ‘To finish the book I’m writing,’ ‘To find a publisher,’ or ‘To work out what I want to write,’ for example. We’ve set goals we want to achieve for the next couple of months. Goal-setting came naturally.
Each meeting, we talk about our successes in the last fortnight. We’re a chatty group, and this takes a while. Sometimes we discuss the things that have not met our expectations. There’s lots of laughter, chat and encouragement, because we’ve developed strong friendships over the time we were a social media group.
We use the second part of our meetings to set concrete targets for the next fortnight. These short term goals include steps which lead to our long term goals. They fit the following categories and degrees of difficulty.
- Minimum targets. The smallest units of work we will perform by the next meeting.
- Targets. Achievable goals that can be met without excessive stress.
- Outrageous targets. These include activities almost, but not quite, outside the realms of possibility, given our present circumstances.
Committing ourselves to targets, and Amanda’s encouragement (and the record she makes of our commitment) lead members to strive to do the work.
I’m grateful to Amanda (an amazing facilitator of small groups) for this new initiative and to the members of Almost Famous for their encouragement and support.
I’ve linked this to the Weekly prompts word challenge – unforeseen on the site of my friends Sue W and CG