How to Set Goals for 2021

12 Apr 2021
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he new year is right around the corner, and you know what that means . . . time to give 2020 the boot for good. And after you tell it “don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” get ready to welcome 2021 with open arms.

People love the whole “fresh start” that a new year brings. That’s no secret. But this year—more than ever—we’re all ready to embrace the fresh, new year with hope of what could be. And a huge part of that is goal setting.

We know you’re probably thinking: Goal setting? Ha! My goals went out the window in 2020. I was just trying to survive, and now you want me to think about goals? Yeah, right.

Whoa there, Negative Nancy. We get it. We really do. But having goals in life is essential—especially when things look chaotic. So this year, take some time to really think about those goals.  And remember, just having good intentions alone changes nothing. Nada. Zilch. You can make resolutions all you want—but a resolution without a plan is just plain old wishful thinking. It’s time to rethink how you see goal setting.

5 Essential Guidelines for Your Goals

Be Specific

What do you want to achieve? Get down to the nitty-gritty. Just saying you want to lose weight won’t cut it. Instead try, “I’d like to drop 20 pounds and be able to do at least 20 sit-ups in a row without passing out.” Watch for any roadblocks that could keep you from reaching your goal, and make a plan to get around them. 

Questions to ask yourself: Who does my goal involve? What am I trying to accomplish here? When and why do I want to make this goal happen?

Make Goals Measurable

If you know your ultimate goal is to pay off $24,000 of debt in the next year, that means you have to pay $2,000 a month to reach that goal (or about $460 a week). Break your goal into bite-sized chunks. Give yourself daily, weekly and monthly steps. Focus on those. When you accomplish one, tackle the next one.

Questions to ask yourself: How long will it take to reach my goal? How do I know when I’ve reached my goal?

Give Goals a Time Limit

Set a time limit—because you need a finish line. Take that goal of yours, create a plan, and break it all the way down to daily activities. Then, give yourself a deadline. Hint: Planners like the Christy Wright 2021 Goal Planner are perfect for this. They’ll help you manage your schedule, grow as a person, and crush your goals—no matter what they are.

For example, you might say, “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31.” To lose 20 pounds, calculate things like how many times you need to work out each week and how many calories you need to eat in a day. Then do what you can to hit that goal by your target date.

Questions to ask yourself: Do I have a deadline for reaching my goal? When will I hit this goal? How many times will I achieve this goal?

Goals Need to Be Yours

Let’s be honest—trying to accomplish someone else’s goals for your life never works out. Sure, your mom may want you to take classes and switch careers. But it won’t happen unless it’s your desire too. Why? Because striving to win isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s tough. And you won’t have the drive to stick with it if you’re working toward a goal you’re not even passionate about.

Just because your spouse wants you to get out of debt doesn’t mean you will either. You have to want it too. The goals you set have to be your goals. When push comes to shove, you’re the one who has to fight to make them a reality. So, get in there and start swinging!

Questions to ask yourself: Is this my goal? Or is it someone else’s desire for me?

Put It in Writing

Something special happens when you write down specific goals. Get them down on paper along with all the steps it’ll take for you to get there. Our Goal Tracker Worksheet is a handy tool for this. Seeing your goals in black and white will help you hold yourself accountable and track your progress along the way. 

Questions to ask yourself: Do I know the steps to reach my goal? Have I laid out a blueprint for how to get there?

Seven Areas of Life for Smart Goals

We recommend you set goals for these seven meaningful areas of life:

Spiritual Goals: Pick up a new devotional, start a daily journal, or plug in to a group at your church.

Fitness Goals: Hit the gym more often, take the stairs, and remember to eat your veggies.

Educational Goals: Go back to finish your degree, get your MBA, or read a good book every month.

Family Goals: Plan one-on-one dates with your kids, have a standing date night with your spouse, or make it a point to call your mom and dad on Sunday nights.

Career Goals: Work toward a promotion or raise, learn something new about your line of work, or polish up and send out resumés if you’re looking for a new career path.

Social Goals: Look for new ways to connect with others. Say yes when someone invites you out to lunch—or, for some of us, say no more often.

Financial Goals: Start saving for retirement, get out of debt, or use a monthly zero-based budget.

When it comes to that last one on the list—your money goals—you might not even know where to start. That’s why we made a super simple assessment that will tell you exactly where you’re at and what your next steps should be. Take our free three-minute assessment and get started knocking out your money goals when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s (or today, that’s fine too).

Don’t get discouraged if you get off track. Life happens. Remember 2020 and all the “surprises” it had? We all hit speed bumps and roadblocks along the way—pandemic or not. And honestly, that’s okay! That’s real life. As long as you stay focused on the end goal and keep taking small steps toward getting there, you’ll be on your way to big life-change.

Now go take 2021 by storm!