Goal-Setting in 2021
Happy New Year! It’s my first post of the new year, and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I’m not big on setting any crazy resolutions; however, I am big on goal-setting. Many people promote goal-setting tactics and techniques, yet I have found a way that works best for me. After all the teachings of 2020, I have found that my 30-60-90 day goal plan to be the most effective way to hold myself accountable while also feeling a sense of pride in getting things done. I believe goal-setting has more to do with feeling accomplished by the goals we set big and small. Your goals should be attainable yet stretches you to become the best version of yourself. To be an effective goal-setter of 2021, you need to embrace a few of these takeaways:
1. You will not hit every goal the way you want
Each day, we all fall short of the expectations that someone else places on us or not fulfilling a task the way we expected. Instead, embrace failing fast and learning from those mistakes to prevent it from happening again. The truth is you will not hit every goal the way you intended; however, it shouldn’t become your standard of excellence. Tracking your goal progress is imperative to its success. Open feedback loops are essential to any goal-setter out there; the sooner you know that you aren’t going to make your goal in time or meet it the way you intended, it gives you time to re-strategize your approach.
2. Embrace the power of pivots and innovation
Oy! If you want to know how I embraced the power of pivots, check out my 2020 year-end post here. For the sake of this post, I will reiterate the importance of always remaining flexible to any given circumstances. You may have planned a full year of goals to achieve, but you have to factor in that circumstances can change at any moment. Focusing on what didn't happen isn't going to bring you closer to meeting your goal. Instead, see this pivot as a powerful opportunity to innovate. A few of my best ideas were born amid adversities. Innovation happens when pressure is applied --- embrace it. When you lean into the challenges, you might re-discover a whole new meaning and purpose for your goals.
3. Breakdown your goals to bitesize wins
I find the best way to approach a goal is to break it down into smaller steps. It feels more attainable, tangible, and realistic when small tasks are completed each day bring you a step closer to meeting goals. Additionally, this helps with prioritization, it’s easier to know what necessary steps need to happen first before the next one is possible. When I take bitesize steps to complete a goal, it feels approachable, and I am able to better manage my progress in meeting that goal. What I love most about this step is that it makes you stop and celebrate your “little wins” along the way. Sometimes we don’t give ourselves enough appreciation for the tiny wins we gain along the way; tiny wins add up to the big win.
4. Make sure every goal is a SMART one
Goals that lack specific (S), measurable (M), attainable (A), realistic (R), and time-based (T) qualities are merely a thought or idea. For example, saying, “I want to save more money this year” is a great statement; however, it doesn’t sound like a SMART goal. To make this statement a SMART goal, one would say: “by December 31, 2021, I want to increase my savings account by $3,000.” Notice a difference? The SMART goal defines in greater detail the savings goal. The goal is specific (choosing real numbers and real timelines); measurable (there are 12-months in a calendar year; so you can breakdown how much one would need to save monthly); attainable (assessing what will be cut out of your budget to meet this goal); realistic (knowing one’s personal ability to work toward that goal); and time-based (the deadline to achieve this goal is December 31, 2021). As you can see from this one quick example, the SMART goal method works for personal and professional goal-setting plans.
5. Build in a goal to reward yourself big
Over the years, I've learned the importance of making it a goal to celebrate all our wins
in a big way. When was the last time you made it a goal to share your accomplishments, and how did you reward yourself? I am working toward doing a better job at sharing my wins publicly, but I have the reward part down. My preferred way of rewarding my achievements has been a trip out of the country, but since we are still on lockdown measures, I am reevaluating what rewards look like for me (in a quarantine environment). I am proud to say that I took a step at the end of last year to share all of what I accomplished in 2020. While it was an uncomfortable step, I needed to do it because it was a personal goal. My goal was: “by the end of 2020, I will create one post that highlights my top accomplishments.”
6. Design your goal-setting format to your liking
There are different ways to write your goals: some people prefer to keep things in a
spreadsheet document, a goal-setting note on their phone, or via an app. Regardless of what format you choose, you have to track your goals; therefore, it is wise to choose a format(s) that will allow you to capture the progress accurately. I like to use a mix of pen and paper, a vision board, and a digital tool like a spreadsheet because each of these formats helps craft SMART goals. I like pen and paper because I am a writer first; it feels sacred, personal, and meaningful to spend the time physically writing out my goals. I’m a firm believer in manifestation work, so when you write with passion and purpose, these goals feel activated to become realized. I love vision boards (paper or virtual) because they are a great visual tool to see your goals each day. Building in time to see your vision board can help you stay focused and motivated; despite the twists and turns life gives you. Finally, the spreadsheet or app tracking tool is great because you can quickly make updates about your goals. There are even apps out there that can prompt you to make time to check-in to ensure you are staying on board with your goal-setting plan or you can share your goals with a mentor or a close friend who can keep tabs on your progress (accountability buddy). The best part is: this document will eventually become your achievement report. You will be able to reflect on your goal journey: what you accomplished, what challenges you overcame, what you learned, how you did the thing and what future goals will follow.
What are your thoughts on goal-setting in 2021? What are your personal and professional goals this year? Any new tips or techniques you have for goal-setting in 2021? As I begin to frame my 2021 goals, I am looking forward to expanding my tool kit and techniques on future goal-setting.