Putting my goals on hold

Yesterday was a monumental day here in the UK when the Prime Minister put the nation on (essentially) a full lockdown. It wasn’t really unexpected, given the social distancing and self-isolation practices measures that were already in place. But it does make things clearer as to the length of time we can expect this to continue. And that clarity means that it’s time to be realistic about my ability to achieve some of my 2020 goals which is a sad realisation for me.

Now, I do realise that there are far greater challenges that others are facing because of this horrible pandemic. And I know that I may face far greater challenges before this period of tribulation is over. However, these are still micro-losses for me and even the smallest losses can compound over time to negatively impact someone’s world.

Indeed, many of my goals and ambitions are designed to motivate me in my daily life. Not so that I can “be productive” or “be amazing”. Instead, I use my goals to motivate me to live. If not for my goals, I would run the risk of sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. And that would increase my feelings of isolation and loneliness. And that would increase my risk for situational depression, which can lead to clinical depression if left to fester for too long. And whilst I have never experienced clinical depression, I know enough about it to know that I want to avoid it at all costs.

Hence, the importance of setting goals and working towards achieving them.

The primary goals that have been put on hold (cancelled?) are those related to running races and travel. But I have also put my “digital free” days on hold, as this seems like a challenging time to not be in touch with my folks – even for just a day. Some of my “soft goals” are going to be harder to work on at this point, too. For example, dressing up for the office will be a little hard when I won’t be going into the office!

I was due to run a half-marathon on Easter weekend and had started looking at other half-marathons to run in the spring. These races were going to help to motivate me for a marathon (or two?) in the autumn. Thankfully, my Easter weekend half has been rescheduled until September. Now, just must hope that others are rescheduled, too. And, of course, I hope the lockdowns don’t delay things even further and I hope I don’t get sick, preventing me from running on my own!

I think that setting aside my travel ambitions is the hardest delayed goal to face. That’s because many of my travel plans were connected to Paul; to the ongoing process of moving forward in my journey of widowhood.

The plans I had for the spring and summer were to visit places that we travelled to together, but that I’ve not been back to since his death. I hoped to visit Bath, where we took our first mini-break together, marking the first time we were in each other’s company for a full 24 hours. (We survived and enjoyed the experience.) I hoped to visit Amsterdam, where we enjoyed our first international trip together. And I planned to visit Venice, where Paul proposed to me way back in 2004. All these trips are now on hold.

I also had plans to visit Iona in April. Whilst it is not a place we went together, it is a place of great significance and is home to the St Martin’s Cross, which is the cross Paul’s headstone was based on. I marked 10 years since Paul’s death last year, with visits to his grave each of those 10 years, and I thought that maybe this year I would change my tradition by going somewhere else to remember him. And where better to begin than to visit the place that holds the inspiration for his headstone? Of course, Iona was also on our list of places to visit, giving it extra meaning.

But now, I won’t be travelling for the foreseeable future. And whilst I can still run without the races, I can’t really travel without the world returning to (some form of) normal. I will try to think of ways to incorporate the spirit of travel into my days and weeks of isolation though.

Yes, it is very frustrating. But I am doing my best to focus on the positive things in my life. Whilst I am losing out on opportunities to travel and to participate in (expensive) races, others are losing their livelihoods (and worse, their lives!). I am part of the “privileged middle class” which means that my life is (comparably) quite stable and easy in the best of times and my personal situation (from professional industry to place of abode) means that I can maintain that stability and “ease” whilst others are facing upheaval for the first time in their lives.

So, please know that I am not whinging about my lot in life without a realisation that so many people have it far, far, far worse than I do at the best of times and are not teetering on destruction during this horribly turbulent time in our society. But, as I’ve said on many occasions, this blog is a record and reflection of my life, not a place for commentary on the very real struggles and pains of society.

As I work towards accepting the delay of my goals, I am working to find new things to focus on. That includes focusing on other parts of my 2020 goals, specifically working to be a stronger and more confident version of myself. I hope that I can use this time and these experiences to help me with that. I hope that I can use this time of great uncertainty to find positive opportunities amongst the angst. I hope that I can come through this with more compassion, more empathy, and more love. (And then, I can go travel the world running races!)

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