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2020 is finally almost over!
And that means that 2021 is almost here. It’s time for a new year and a goal setting session.
This guide will show you how to set goals to set yourself up for a successful year ahead.
Set Up Your Environment
Before sitting down for a yearly goal setting session, take the time to set up your environment for optimal goal setting. Make sure that you have set aside enough time in which you won’t be disturbed. If you don’t have the time now, schedule it in your calendar and then come back to this.
Find a quiet and comfortable place free from distractions. Ideally you want a clean and organized space for a clear and focused mind.
Limit distractions. Let others know you’re busy if necessary. Close and lock your door. Turn off your phone or put it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane Mode.
Set the mood. Grab your favorite drink. Put on some quiet music. Light some candles. Open some windows for fresh air. Take out your favorite notebook and pen. Surround yourself with your favorite things. Get yourself cozy and comfortable.
Take some deep breaths and relax. If you’d like, you can take some time to meditate or journal to get yourself in the right frame of mind.
You’re ready to set some goals!
Review and Reflect on the Year
Before jumping in to the next year, you want to take the time to take a look back on 2020 and see how far you came, where you are now, and the lessons you learned from 2020. Before you decide where you want to go, you want to know where you are first.
Write down and answer the following questions:
What changed in your life?
How did you change? How are you different now than you were a year ago?
What were your results? What were your goals and how far did you get in meeting them? These are facts.
What were your wins?
What were your failures?
What did you love most about 2020?
What challenges did you face?
What needs to change?
What will you do to make sure the challenges you faced this year will be better handled in 2021? What is your strategy going to be?
What will you leave behind in 2020?
What will you continue to bring in 2021?
What brought you joy in 2020?
Describe 2020 in one word.
Remember to take this as a learning opportunity. This should not be to feel bad about yourself. You don’t want to judge and be hard on yourself either. You want clarity and awareness to learn from this year. Be curious and take the perspective of a scientist.
Evaluate Your Life and Self Now
You want to take a look at the results you have in your life now. These are facts. This is neutral.
Take a look at all the areas in your life and write down your results in each area.
Remember that honest awareness is the first step towards change.
Consider the 8 life categories for places to set goals in:
- Spiritual/Personal Development
- Fun and recreation
- Service and volunteer work
You can also narrow it down to 3 categories:
Your Future Vision
Now you want to get intentional and set up a big picture vision for your life going forward. It’s helpful to do this once a year along with yearly goal setting to make sure you’re going in the direction of your ideal life.
Think about and answer to yourself the following questions:
How do you want to feel?
What do you want to achieve?
Who do you want to become?
Make a bucket list of all the things you want in your future life. This is not limited to one year. Feel free to dream big. Make sure to focus on what you want. Not what you think you should want or what others want for you.
Take a few minutes to visualize yourself and your life in different areas 1 year, 3 years, 5 years from now.
Now we’re going to get specific.
Write down your answer to the following questions:
Where do you see yourself in 1 year? 3 years from now? 5 years?
What does your life look like?
What do you do?
What can you see? Feel? Touch?
Who’s there with you?
Where do you live?
What does your morning routine look like?
How do you earn money?
What have you achieved?
What do your days look like?
If you don’t know exactly, that’s okay. Just try your best.
1 Year From Now…
1 year from now, where do you want to be?
What are you working on?
Where are you?
Who’s with you?
What does your day look like? Go through your day from beginning to end.
How does it feel achieving your main goal?
Write a Letter From Your Future Self
Act as if you’ve achieved your goals. How does it feel? Where are you? What are you thinking? Write a letter from your future self to your self now.
Now, let’s get down to setting a goal for 2021!
Before we get started, choose a word for the year of 2021.
It can be anything you want to direct your focus and goal in 2021. Examples are bold, courage, freedom, focus, inspire, thrive, balance, simplify.
Set a One-Year Goal
What is your number 1 goal for 2021?
When goal setting for the year, it’s ideal to focus on one big main goal. Setting too many goals leads to overwhelm and a lack of focus which causes no goals to be met.
One of the main reasons New Years’ resolutions usually don’t work out is because we tend to set way too many big goals at a time setting our expectations unrealistically high.
When you focus on one big goal, you direct your focus and increase your likelihood of success.
“He who chases two rabbits catches neither one.” — Confucius
If you’re having trouble, do a brain dump of goals. Use your vision as guides and take a look at your goal bucket list.
If you’re especially feeling unstuck, check out the article How to Get Unstuck: What to Do If You Don’t Know What to Do With Your Life.
Set Smart Goals
When setting a goal, you want to make sure your goal is SMART.
S – Specific
You don’t want to set vague goals. That’s not helpful and won’t guide you much. Make sure your goals are specific and actionable.
M – Measurable
You want to make sure you can measure and track your progress for your goal. You’ll also know when you have achieved your goal if it’s measurable. Provide a way to evaluate your goal.
A – Attainable
You want your goal to be possible. It should be challenging, but attainable within your scope of power and given the time frame of one year.
R – Relevant
Your goal should make sense. It should be a goal that you want to achieve and will improve your life in some way.
T – Time bound
You want your goal to have a deadline. In this case, if you’re setting a one-year goal for the year of 2021, your deadline should be December 31, 2021 or January 1, 2021, give or take.
Include actionable steps in your goal. For example: By December 31, 2021, I want to lose x amount of weight by going to the gym x amount of times a week.
Articulate Your Why
What’s your why? Why did you set this goal?
Go deep. Keep asking yourself why. You want to have a deep, inner, strong reason. The stronger your why, the better.
This helps you find motivation and keeps you going when things get hard.
You want to connect to your goal both intellectually and emotionally.
You have to love your why. Love your reason for achieving your goal. It should get you excited.
Once you uncover your why, include it in your goal. “I want to achieve my goal because…”
Implementing Supportive Habits
Now, you want to implement supportive habits and incorporate useful behavior to achieve your goal.
Write down and answer the following questions:
- Who do you need to become to achieve your one year goal?
- How do you need to show up?
- What kind of thoughts, feelings, and mindset should you have?
- What needs to change?
- What habits should you implement?
- What routines should be created?
Make a list of habits, routines, and behaviors that need to be implemented for you to achieve your goal.
It’s incredibly important to set up habits because you want to rely on habits instead of motivation. Setting a goal is just the first step to reaching your goal. Habits are what lead you to reaching your goal.
Take a moment to channel and embody your future self. Journal about your future self and get to know them. What do they do? What are they like?
Make a list of things you need to take out. Bad habits, bad behaviors, people, etc. This should include internal and external things.
Make a list of things you want to bring into your life (more). Again, this should include both internal and external things.
Break Up Your Goals
You’re going to take your big one year goal and break it up.
First you’re going to break your goal into quarter goals. So for every 90 days, choose a goal or outcome that you want to focus on.
Next you’re going to break up your quarter goals into mini monthly goals.
Breaking up your goals into smaller goals will actually help you with not only reaching goals, but setting them as well. Goal setting is an iterative skill. The more you set goals, the better at them you’ll get.
If you don’t know, set a goal to figure that out as your first monthly goal. Commit to decide. Do whatever you have to do. Research. Brainstorm. Ask yourself questions. Meditate or sleep on it. Figure it out.
The farther you go out into the year, the less specific you’ll likely get. That’s okay. So do your best to take a guess. Estimate what you’d like your goal to be and focus to be on.
Circumstances change. Life is unpredictable. You want to be adaptable and flexible to handle what life throws at you during the year.
Create a Massive Action List
Make a massive action list. Be very specific. Write every single thing you’d like to get done. This should be a huge list with 50-100 action steps. Remember if you don’t know, do some research and figure it out. Write as many as you can.
Now you’re going to organize your action steps in chronological order. You’re going to create your master plan.
This is what turns your goal into an action plan.
It may be tedious, but it is so worth it. After doing this, all you need to do is show up.
Then you’re going to add these actions to your calendar.
You want to be taking some sort of action every single day that will move you towards your goal. Just a few minutes a day is better than zero minutes a day. You want to be moving forward and taking baby steps at least.
For the first month, you’re going to set up your weekly to-dos for the month of January.
Going forward, you’re going to want to fill your calendar in 1 to 2-week increments.
Once you’ve filled your calendar with at least the immediate action steps for the first month of January or the first two weeks, you’re ready for the next step which is to do the work and just start.
Tracking Your Goal
Spend 30 minutes at the end of every week to reflect and track your weekly progress for your annual goal. Analyze your efforts.
Are you on track? What’s working? What needs to change?
Don’t be afraid to make changes. You want to be flexible and adaptable. 2020 definitely showed us this.
Set up a system to measure and track your goals and habits whether it’s an app or journal. Have it ready before starting.
Keep in mind that your goals will have problems. You should expect obstacles. Expect to experience failures.
To limit further failure and backtrack, plan for obstacles ahead of time.
When you plan for potential problems, you plan for solutions.
Make a list of potential problems and obstacles. Follow each with a strategy to overcome and solve your problems.
Practice awareness of your weakness and threats. For example, if you already know you struggle with waking up early, prepare for this in advance. Have a strategy in place to avoid this problem.
When faced with problems and obstacles, avoid getting stuck. Learn from them. Be solution oriented. Fail forward. When you’re failing, you’re putting yourself out there.
“Everything is figureoutable.” — Marie Forleo
Tips for reaching your goal in 2021:
- Keep your goal in front of you
- Prioritize your goal every day
- Take action every day
- Stay in the right mindset – be solution oriented
- Weekly planning and reviews
- Measure your progress
- Stay focused
- Keep going when things get hard
If you haven’t already, start working towards your goal NOW! There’s no reason to wait until January 1st. Give yourself a head start by starting with very slight and minor changes. Start embarrassingly small.
When you start with sudden, big changes, you’re less likely to keep it up. So use the time you have now as a sort of mini practice session.
Congratulations on taking the first steps toward reaching your goal! Most people don’t even write down their big goals let alone take steps necessary to reach them.
Goal setting is the way to actively create your future and design your ideal life. The only way to predict your future is to create it.
Here’s to making 2021 your best year yet!