Expectations can be killers

Setting Pandemic Goals


Bryan Brown

Director of International Training and Leader Development


Expectations can be killers. Regardless of how much you accomplish, no matter the progress you make – if they fall too short of expectations, you will end up frustrated. After all, that is the proverbial gap between expectation and reality.

In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, disappointment and frustrations will continue to build unless you adjust to the new reality.

Where to begin? 

First, start by taking a realistic look at your expectations. Do they reflect the challenges that you are facing and the current context that you find yourself in? If not (and that is probably the case), give yourself grace and permission to adjust.

Second, rewrite your goals for this time. And keep the timeframe shorter than normal as you and the world adapt to the changes.  Written goals hold great power. Well-written goals provide the steps to greater productivity and less anxiety during this unique time. Even though we may be limited due to being “sheltered in place”, we must still be intentional. You never drift to your desired destination or outcomes.

Here is common acronym that will help you as you set your goals for these months. You may have heard of SMART Goals. Well, make them even SMART-ER and connect them to life in these Coronavirus times.

Write S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals. Examples:

Specific: Clarify exactly what you hope to accomplish

Measurable: Quantify the outcome

Action-oriented: Moving from a thought or idea to action

Relevant: Is your goal connected to what is really important?

Time-bound: Set a specific deadline

Energizing: Is it motivating?

Realistic: Does it take into account the current situation – both the opportunity and the limitations of this time?



  1. Write your goals down.

  2. Review your goals regularly. I recommend weekly.

  3. Consider all of your roles – not just work.  This may be a time to invest more in family or hobbies or projects that otherwise get overlooked

  4. Limit your goals to 7-10

  5. Share your goals with only a few who can support you.
    (Studies show that it helps to share your goals with a select few, but not with everyone – the fun of sharing your goals can actually be a hindrance to accomplishing them)

  6. Attach your motivations to your goals. Instead of being a merely intellectual exercise, make it one that engages your heart as well. Connecting emotionally to your goals creates a powerful energy to move into action!

  7. 70%! … If you accomplish 100% of your goals, you may not be stretching yourself.
    If you only accomplish 20%, you may need to re-evaluate what is realistic, or what help is needed. If you hit 70% of your goals – that is a homerun!! Way to go!


Few activities will produce as much return on your investment of time and energy. Get away for a couple of hours to write an initial draft of your goals(at least as far as you can if staying at home). Write down 7-10 goals that you would like to accomplish over the next 2-3 months. Include your motivations – ask “What would achieving this goal, do for me?” “What would it do for my life, my family, my business, my ministry?” “Why is this important?”

When you are done, ask yourself:

How will you evaluate progress?
How will you know when you have reached this goal?
Do these goals take the current restrictions or challenges into account?
Why is this goal important to you?
Is there alignment with your goals and what really matters to you?

What do you want to act on now?
What single word best captures your focus for this season?