Goal setting during difficult times  

The impending dawn of a New Year is notoriously a time where some begin planning for the next 12 months. However, setting goals 2 years into an unforgiving pandemic may almost seem foolish – especially if your plans (a holiday, committing to the gym, spending more time with your family) rapidly became a mirage this time last year.  

After contending with heavy lockdown restrictions during Christmas 2020, it’s likely we feel jaded with restrictions having once more been implemented – something we hoped we wouldn’t have to cope with this festive season.  

General opinion may naturally assume this would lead to feelings of apathy when it comes to setting goals and planning for the future.   

“What’s the point?” you may wonder.  

Planning ahead

With a risk that apathy may accompany the general population’s feeling about restrictions again, there appears to be compelling data demonstrating a different view. According to research conducted by Emerald Works, 52% of those surveyed described themselves as having personal goals and a development plan before the pandemic. During Covid, this increased to 75%.  

Knowing this, let’s discuss tactics to realise your personal goals as planned for 2022.  

The psychology of committing goals to paper  

According to a Harvard Business study, 83% of people don’t have goals. 14% of people in this research study admitted to having goals, but not writing them down. However, only 3% of respondents actually wrote down their goals and were three times more likely to achieve them than those who simply had them thought out.  

You may remember taking notes when at school or perhaps you do it during business meetings. There is a reason why this is beneficial – writing supports the brain to encode information, which essentially is where data is either stored in long-term or short-term memory, directed by the hippocampus. Neuropsychologists have termed this the ‘generation effect’, meaning people are better able to recall information that they have created for themselves.   

When you commit your goals to paper, it creates a compulsion to focus and achieve them. By embedding this in your brain, you are acknowledging how important it is to achieve what you’ve set out to do. In turn, your brain will find ways in which to make your goals a reality – even when you’re not consciously thinking of it!  

Moreover, writing goals down clarifies the objectives you wish to achieve. Seeing them tangibly in front of you coaxes you into thinking about these goals in more absolute terms; you can start defining them and the milestones you wish to achieve to realise your overall success. “Running a marathon”, for example, can be translated into “Run 5 miles three times a week”.  

Goal setting with flexibility  

We should not abandon planning for our personal and professional goals for 2022, despite the climate we find ourselves in with the potential of new restrictions being instigated. Instead, we should keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with replacing our BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) with bite-sized, consistent smaller goals that are easier to achieve – but just as impactful.  


When planning your goals for 2022, challenge yourself to abandon the notion of rigid goals that have the risk of pushing you to breaking point. Consider being flexible in all you do, and allow your goals to take on a more malleable nature, so that they can bend, adapt and flex with you.  

Here at Blackmore Four, we wish you a restful festive period, and all the best for the New Year.  


Blackmore Four are an independent Essex-based consulting company, offering specialist advice and tailored solutions to businesses looking to improve business performance.  Our approach is based on a deep understanding of human behaviour at work and an ability to identify and address the specific leadership and organisational development needs of your business.


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