Let’s start off by asking you: How are you? How are you, really? A question that often gets an automatic and monotonous “Fine”. Yet, living through one of the most uncertain times in history, this question deserves to be asked and answered with more sincerity than ever before.

We can say without fail that the world is shifting, life as we know it has changed and our normal has been replaced by new a normal. We had plans, goals, adventures in mind that did not get the chance to come to fruition. And most times, all we want is a guide book on how to sort it all out!

Demotivated, anxious, panicked, tired, and frustrated are some of the adjectives used to describe people during the coronavirus pandemic. Naturally, it is easy to feel all these emotions when a lot of the control we thought we had was not there anymore.

So to those goals and ambitions, you had pre-pandemic, what will you do to rebuild yourself after this is better? Have your goals changed? How are you going to achieve them?

How to set goals and achieve them (when it feels impossible)

1. Take a step back

With a world that is filled with chaos at the moment, it is hard to resist the urge to act. However, you may find it quite a valuable choice to slow down or even take a moment to stop. This crisis has brought to light a lot of questions about who we are, what we value and how we should function as people and as societies as a whole.

Taking a step back does not have to mean disconnecting from the world for a week. It can be having a quiet night and writing down things like what matters to you or what are achievements you want to see yourself have in the future. Small steps into understanding who you are as a person and knowing what are the values and principles that drive you in the decisions you make.

2. Make SMART Decisions

Set ambitions… but not without goals! Ambition means the determination to achieve success or distinction in life. On the other hand, goal refers to the object of a person’s ambition or effort, measurable in a specified period of time. 

Most times, it is easy to decide we want to do things but more often than not, our perception of time affects decision making. So it is the “when” where we find ourselves stuck in. In an experiment, people would mostly choose to get $500 now that $700 one year from now.

In economics, this is known as “temporal discounting” — we “discount” the value of having something far off in the future compared to having something now. 

Or in psychology, we can call it “present bias”. We’d rather eat unhealthy each week than think about possible health implications in the future. We’d rather stay silent than address difficult but needed conversations that may affect your friendship one year from now.

So try to make your goals specific. Make them measurable. Make them achievable and relevant. Most importantly, make them time-bound. Make them SMART.

3. Be realistic & take responsibility

Part of having SMART goals is making them relevant. By relevant, you must be realistic. Knowing the right time, if it suits your ambitions, if it matches your skills is essential and what are the long-term effects. It is the small decisions we make throughout our lives consistently that create the major changes we see in ourselves.

“It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”

Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success

It is always good to have an understanding of what’s within your power to change and not within your power to change. Look around and find the proper tools that help you work towards developing yourself, towards the ambition you set. Take responsibility for your own well-being!

Where do I start?

This may be the question on your mind after reading this. Make sure to firstly avoid the Paradox Of Goal Setting. This means that when setting a goal we tend to focus on avoiding the negatives outcomes instead of focusing on the positive ones. So paradoxically, let go of the goal of avoiding a negative result to give way for success. 

Earlier on we mentioned looking around and finding the tools. Sometimes the tools are not far off and maybe even a click away. Amidst a global pandemic, you need to be self-aware and you must be solution-oriented. Both these qualities are one of the elements that make up a leader, one thing we need to aim to be when we see chaos all around us.

In AIESEC, we strive to achieve peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential. And to do that we need leaders. And leaders need to be nurtured. We provide these opportunities for people like YOU to gain practical experience to go and find their own potential and develop their leadership!

What opportunities are you willing to take to develop yourself as the world is getting back into motion? Click here to find the opportunity that suits you and start making plans for when things get back to normal and it’s safe to hop on the ride to somewhere far from home and your comfort zone!

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