The other day, as I was trying to lift my Gen Z son’s mood, I asked him what he’d like to accomplish while living in lockdown with his mum. What would help him thrive. He thought for a while and then said, “I want to get my driver’s license, and learn to cook.”
Wow, I thought. That’s a kid with some big hairy audacious goals. As he spoke, he became energised, animated. His mood lifted.
It got me thinking about my own goals. I’d been in a bit of a flat mood for the past few weeks. Everything I had been working towards had been cancelled and there was nothing left to fill the void except daily case numbers and where I’d left my favourite mask. I’d spent my days focusing on what I couldn’t do and wishing lockdown would end so I could ‘get on with my life’.
I had been surviving, not thriving.
Psychiatrist Dr Gordon Livingstone tells us that we need three key things to be happy: Something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.
So what could I look forward to? What could I work towards while in lockdown?
I decided my big hairy audacious goal would be to ride my mountain bike around Manly Dam without falling – or getting – off.
The idea both terrified and excited me. The mountain bike (MTB) track at Manly Dam is rated moderate to challenging and I’m a beginner. But not thriving is scarier. The first time I attempted it, I walked most of the way. But each time I’ve tried since lockdown began, I’ve managed to ride down one more drop off, or up one more boulder, than before. This makes it fun.
So, I’ve mapped out a plan. I’ve promised myself I’ll take the challenge at least three times each week, even if I don’t have a bike buddy to call the ambulance if I fly over the handlebars. I know that three is the magic number if you want to learn a new skill.
And now I’m almost wishing for lockdown to go longer, so I’ve got time to actually achieve this impossible goal.
This doesn’t only apply to those of us in lockdown. We’re all living in a state of uncertainty, where travel and adventures could be cancelled at the drop of a hat. It’s hard to make long-term plans and even when we do, they don’t feel set in stone. This can make us feel as though we’re not thriving.
If you, too, are simply surviving, think about what you’d like to achieve during this time. Something you can do in any level of restrictions. Something that, when you look back on this time in 20 years, you can remember what you accomplished. (Other than, ya know, getting through a pandemic alive which is pretty damn fantastic!)
Start with a big hairy audacious goal, make a plan around how you’ll achieve it and find some people to join your quest (your goal buddies). I’m excited to be my son’s goal buddy. To help him learn to drive and learn to cook. And he loves it when I come home from my MTB adventures buzzing with dopamine and endorphins.
Your goal doesn’t have to be physical, but if it is, you’ll get a triple dose of happiness. You’ll get your endorphins from exercise, your dopamine from achievement and your oxytocin from connecting with your goal buddy.
If you’re not thriving at the moment, here are some great goals to inspire you:
- Learn to do a handstand
- Run 5km/10km/20km without stopping
- Mountain bike a particular trail
- Learn to cook 10 classic dishes
- Find five/10 new walks in your area
- Learn to drive
- Get in the water and learn to swim or surf!
- Try ocean swimming
- Golf courses are open… why not take it up?
- Practice a specific yoga flow until you can do it from memory
- Learn a dance with your friends or family
- Fix up your garden
What’s your big hairy audacious lockdown goal going to be? I’d love to know.