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In normal times, I’m a planner. I love setting and achieving goals which explains my passion for competitive sports when I was a young athlete. Or, perhaps, sports was the impetus for turning me into a planner. These days, as a coach, I work daily with clients to help them define and work toward their goals.

But, as with many things, the pandemic has added challenges to setting longer term goals given that we are all facing so many unknowns. There is no road map for 2020 and on into 2021. No one has walked the path we are on…and, actually, there is no path, no footsteps before ours to beat down the grasses, harden the earth, and show us the way.

Having coached for over a decade, I’ve got a lot of tools in my toolbox – and I’m using them every day to get through. But I’ve also learned that I’m having to MacGyver some of them to work in this time of a worldwide pandemic.

Be Open to Experimenting

One concept I use in coaching that isn’t changing is that of experimentation. I create coping strategies and ways to stay productive and manage the stress of everything that’s been piled on us this year. Then I experiment with them, tweak as needed, then put them into practice. That’s business as usual…but what is unusual is how often I need to generate new strategies. What works for me one week, may not be effective the next.

I’ve learned to take things one hour, one day, and one week at a time. I implement a strategy, observe the outcome, and repeat it if it works. If it’s not effective, I tweak it or replace it with a different approach.

But, wait! I’m a goal setter. I like using the concept of the ideal image – how will it feel to accomplish the goal – to motivate me. Yet, longer term planning is not as easy this year given so many unknowns.

What’s Working

The strategies that seem to be working for me so far include:

  1. Staying present in the moment. When I create a plan for my day and then methodically work my way through it, I see results from my efforts. I help my clients move forward and I move my business forward.
  2. Staying off social media. It’s not easy with so many things changing so quickly, but it’s become very clear to me that it is a time and energy waster these days. I am choosing to invest my energy in my work and my wellbeing instead.
  3. Practicing self-care. Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to de-stress and re-source. Living through a pandemic and everything else 2020 is throwing at us can be exhausting. I’ve got a daily routine that includes exercise, as many healthy eating choices as possible with allowances for some comfort food as needed, and meditation. Essential oils in a diffuser or lavender Epsom salts baths are also part of my formula.

Let me be clear. These are the three things I aim for each day. I don’t always get there, of course. Some days, I succumb to the demands of showing up and performing at pre-pandemic levels. My to do list leaks over into the next day. I eat chocolate and skip my workout. And, that’s okay. Granting myself more grace this year is a necessary survival strategy.

The Cumulative Effect

When I thought about stepping away from my typical planning strategies of setting end of year goals and moving toward getting through an hour, a day, or a week at a time, it was challenging. I like setting goals and seeing where they take me. It’s normally inspiring and motivating. This year, trying to set and hit them has left me feeling exhausted.

Yesterday, I had an aha moment on how to shift my thinking. Plan in the present, complete certain tasks each day, and focus on the potential cumulative effect. I trust that taking consistent action over time will generate results. This allows me to focus on the actions instead of the outcomes. Perhaps it is not much different than my old way of planning but it’s a different mindset for me that seems to fit better for the current circumstances.

The cumulative effect is my new experiment. I’ll give it a week, observe the outcomes, and adjust as needed. One hour, one day, one week at a time…for now.

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