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In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, we’ve have had to put life as we know it on hold. Instead of heading into the office each morning, we’re walking a mere few steps to our make-do workspaces. Instead of going out with friends and family, we’re doing check-ins over the phone and FaceTime. Instead of celebrating birthdays, attending weddings, and throwing baby showers, we’re rescheduling these plans and bunkering down at home. In a few words, we’re practicing social distancing.

Social distancing—while necessary at a time like this—can lead to feelings of loneliness, which can then have a negative impact on one’s mental health and wellbeing. This means that overcoming any lonely feelings you might experience is crucial. And you might have to get a little creative to do it, considering this whole social distancing thing. Our creative tip for you is to focus your extra time and energy on goal-setting. Saving money; achieving your weight goal; writing a novel; mastering mindfulness; learning a new language. The possibilities are endless and the time is now.  

When you don’t have goals to work toward, you’re likely to experience restlessness, which will only exacerbate negative feelings like loneliness. Let’s solve both of these problems at once by focusing on goal-setting and finally achieving those goals that have been pushed to the back of your mind. Follow our tips for setting and achieving these goals, and you’ll be on your way to living a less lonely, more fulfilling life:

1) Check your tribe. 

Who is in your social circle? Who are you following on Instagram and Facebook? Who do you look up to? Surround yourself with motivated, goal-oriented people as well as those who are where you want to be. You might not be able to meet up with these people to chat over dinner or coffee right now, but you can call and FaceTime them. As for the celebrities and role models you look up to, you can read about their success stories and stay up to date on their progress thanks to the internet and social media, of course. The right tribe will keep you accountable and push you to get results.

2) Identify your “why.” 

Now that you have a bit more free time, you can come up with a goal you really care about and want to achieve. Many people will create a goal without a real “why” behind it. For example, you may say that you want to save more money. That can be a great goal, if the “why” aligns. What are you saving the money for? Retirement, a new car, a vacation after all of this is over? Whatever the goal is, when you achieve it, what will it do for your life and why are you passionate about it? If you don’t have a concrete “why”, you will not reach your destination.

3) Visualize your goal. 

After you come up with your “why,” you must paint a compelling picture of yourself accomplishing your goal. What will it look like to finally achieve this goal? How will it feel? This will tie you mentally and emotionally to your goal, gear your brain to view this goal as achievable, and increase your motivation. The goal becomes realistic.  

4) Start small. 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is trying to do too much at once. It’s great to have big goals and set high standards for yourself, but too big and they can end up intimidating you to the point of inactivity. Try breaking up your big goal into smaller chunks. For example, if you want to lose twenty pounds in the next six months, what do you have to do daily or weekly to achieve that? What you do today impacts your future. So breaking it down into little, more manageable pieces minimizes the weight of it all and makes it more realistic. Setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals to help you plan effectively what is needed to hit your target as not to be discouraged and overwhelmed.

5) Get into the right mindset. 

Excitement and optimism come happen early, but the minute things get uncomfortable you might want to forfeit. Getting your mindset right is key to keeping that initial momentum going. Accomplishing goals is not a straight line. There will be many ebbs and flows, therefore it is important to be prepared for the valleys. Revisiting your “why,” visualizing your end goal, and practicing positive self-talk is critical at this juncture. Also, don’t get stuck should-ing yourself and comparing yourself to others. A lot of people are going to be setting and working toward some personal goals right now—stay in your lane and focus on you.

6) Practice grace.

It’s surprising how hard we can be on ourselves. There may be external an internal forces that slow down your progress, such as sickness, the health of our loved ones, and stress. Whatever it is, practice grace. Be honest with yourself about the cause for the pause, address it, accept it, and keep it moving. Be kind to yourself during this weird and difficult time—know that you will get there when you get there.

7) Celebrate your wins. 

Regardless of how big or small these victories, you should celebrate your accomplishments. When you hit a milestone on your goal journey or you simply feel proud of yourself for your progress, celebrate with a good movie on Netflix, a delicious dessert, an at-home spa treatment, or a dance party in your living room. But also know that the celebration doesn’t have to be in the form of a reward—simply jotting down your accomplishments in a daily journal can improve your mindset and give you the sense of achievement that will motivate you to stay on track, too. Don’t minimize your progress. Forward is forward.

We know that times are hard right now. It might be difficult to focus on your goals, or anything else for that matter, but we think that it’s worth a try. Goal-setting will help you feel less lonely, find fulfillment, and benefit your overall wellbeing. Take care of yourself.

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is Senior Writer and Editor at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She is a co-author of Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book and has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

Check out “Leaving Depression Behind: An Interactive, Choose Your Path Book” written by AJ Centore and Taylor Bennett."

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