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How to achieve your goals, even during a pandemic

If you set New Year’s resolutions or goals but don’t have much success, here are five science-backed strategies to help you to achieve them.

Written by High Life North
Published 12.01.2021

By Sam Hook

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to setting goals and planning for the future whether that’s for travel, work or personal ambitions, and we don’t know for sure what restrictions will be in place in the first few months of this year.

While it may be difficult to plan ahead, it’s still important to take time to decide what you’d like to achieve in 2021 to give you a sense of direction and purpose.Around 85% of people don’t set goals and on average 92% of New Years’ resolutions fail by January 15. Not only that, most people make the same resolutions ten times without success. If you set New Year’s resolutions or goals but don’t have much success, here are five science-backed strategies to help you to achieve them.

Strategy number 1. Write your goals down daily

So this first one is pretty simple, but not many people do it. Simply write the goal down daily. Dr Gail Matthews, who’s a Professor of Psychology at the Dominican University of California, discovered that people are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they write them down every day. In fact, the more you write them down the better.Goals that are just stored in the mind are more likely to be jumbled up with the other 1500 thoughts per minute that the average human-being experiences so writing them down increases motivation and forces us to avoid being vague. 


Strategy number 2:  Schedule actions in your diary

Deciding in advance where and when you’re going to take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success. So schedule time in your calendar to take action towards your goals and also include where you’re going to do them. So for example, let’s say it’s exercise. Schedule the time you’re actually going to work out, plus put in the place ie the gym, park or at home.


Strategy number 3: Have a contingency plan and be flexible

Make a contingency plan to allow for any setbacks or pandemic restrictions.  Thinking ahead and planning for problems will increase your chance of success.Lockdown has given people a taste for a simpler way of living and a YouGov survey showed that 91% of Brits do not want things to go back to normal – with 85% saying they hoped to see some of the personal or social changes they have experienced over recent months continue afterwards. With this in mind, there’s no rush to achieve new goals quickly. Obviously, timelines are required to achieve targets, but it’s important to be flexible and take into account that things might be slow-moving for a while. Being consistent over time and maintaining consistent routines is the key.


Strategy number 4: Update a friend, coach or mentor

The Society of Training and Development found that you have a 65% chance of completing a goal if you commit to someone.  On top of that, If you have a specific accountability appointment with another person, this can actually increase your chances of success by up to 95%.

Strategy 5: Be ambitious but realistic

A goal should stretch you, test you and require commitment but should not be so unachievable so as to demotivate you. A goal is also different to something that you would add to your ‘to-do list’ like decorating your bedroom. Think about the reason behind the goal and how it will enhance your life if you achieve it.


What’s the most important goals that you’ll be setting this year?

If you need help with setting goals or would like accountability calls, contact Sam Hook at or for free coaching tips follow her on Instagram/Facebook @uniquethinkingcoaching

Sam is also running a series of workshops in 2021 starting with New Year, New You on 27 March. 

Find out more

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