It’s that time of year when people are either looking back on their accomplishments or wondering “Where did all the time go?”
Whether you belong to the first camp or the second, we hope that you’re celebrating your wins, big or small. And in a year that’s been filled with uncertainty and challenges, every small step counts as a big leap. So even if you had to put your goals on the back burner, try to celebrate what you did accomplish. Maybe you found time to send a card to a loved one or take long walks or read a good book.
Every small act is a big achievement.
This time of year is also synonymous with new beginnings and goals. A blank slate. A new chapter. A chance to refresh our lives. It seems only fitting to use this time to reflect on the successes and challenges of the past year, and define goals and visions for the new one.
On the flip side, the new year can also be a harsh reminder of lost potential. And 2020 definitely didn’t help in that department. Whether it was unmet deadlines or sneakers that were stuffed in the back of the closet, we’ve all had goals fall by the wayside.
So here are some compassionate ways that we can approach our goals and new year’s resolutions for 2021.
- Instead of being hard on yourself, use this time of year for gentle reflection and lessons learned.
- Instead of feeling pressured to be the new and improved version of yourself, set goals that feel authentic to you.
- Instead of wondering where did all the time go, commit to living mindfully, starting right now.
Below are tips and exercises to help you set goals that you’ll be excited about. Plus, ideas on how to hold yourself accountable and stick with it when things get tough. So find a quiet space, light a candle or make a pot of tea, and grab your favorite planner. Here’s to a safe and prosperous 2021.
Set goals that you actually want to achieve
This seems like a no-brainer, but how many times have you set a goal that actually made you miserable? We think that we want to “lose weight” or “be more productive” but in our pursuit of our ideal, improved selves, we end up restricting our lives. We ban sugar, alcohol, TV, and well, fun. We force ourselves to wake up early or go for a run in the bitter cold. No wonder so many people end up abandoning their resolutions by February!
So instead of setting goals that you *think* you should achieve, try setting goals that will actually make you feel happy and fulfilled.
- What is something that I’ve always wanted to do?
- Who are people or organizations I admire and want to develop relationships with?
- What is something that will help me grow? Either spiritually, intellectually, or professionally?
- What do I find fun?
If you’re not sure what the answers are, trying journaling for a few minutes a day. See what comes up for you. You can also reference old journal entries or even old photos from your phone. What moments brought joy? What experiences energized and inspired you?
So, if you’re proud of the time you baked a cake from scratch, then make sure it’s compatible with your new goal to eat healthier. Instead of restricting sweets from your diet, you might want to try a healthier option.
If you’re trying to be more productive but you hate waking up early, explore other peak times for you. Maybe late afternoon is your ideal time. Or maybe you’re more of a night owl. Or maybe you just need to spend small increments of time every day to work on your goal.
If your goal is to meditate more, but you can’t just stick to a routine, then see if there are other ways to practice mindfulness. Maybe you’ll find that going for a long walk is a meditative act for you or drawing in your coloring book or taking a long bath.
It’s about aligning your goal with your natural rhythms and desires. If cherishing a morning cup of coffee is meaningful to you, don’t use that time to work on writing your novel or go for a run. You don’t want your goal to upend your life, you want it to support your life and make it more fun and fulfilling.
Set smaller goals
After an uncertain year like 2020, it’s natural to want to give up goal setting altogether. But making plans is actually key to our well-being. Human beings actually like to set goals and look forward to things, it’s in our very nature.
That’s why setting smaller goals can be helpful. In fact, smaller goals might actually even be better for you.
Smaller goals can hold your attention span and sustain your energy. And when you achieve smaller goals, your confidence will grow and set you up for achieving even more success.
Create quarterly goals/projects
You’re more likely to achieve a goal when it’s time-bound. That’s why quarterly goals are highly effective. 90 days is short enough to sustain your energy and interest, while also long enough to complete a big project. You can track your progress with a 3-month planner and visualize your project with a project planning pad.
Here are some ideas for quarterly goals:
Plan a community project. Try organizing a clothing drive or distributing food or hygiene kits to your community. Not only will managing all the different aspects keep you energized and productive, but helping your community will make you feel so fulfilled.
Cook through all the recipes of a cookbook. You can use the 3-month planner to keep track of your favorite recipes and lessons learned. By the end of the 3 months, you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time.
Do a mindful activity everyday. This can include meditation, coloring books, yoga, knitting, or a leisurely walk.
Develop a gratitude practice. You can add a gratitude practice to your morning or evening routine. Keep a gratitude journal on your bedside table as an easy reminder to write something down every day.
Learn a new language. Try doing DuoLingo for a few minutes a day. You’re more likely to maintain a habit if you start off small and then slowly build on it. Use the 30-day challenge in the 2021 planner to monitor your progress and sustain your routine.
Meet new people. Reach out to people you admire on social media or sign up for new online classes.
Need more ideas? You can find inspiration for new goals here.
Check-in with your goals
After defining your goals, it’s good to check in with them on a regular basis so that you can keep yourself motivated and accountable. Here are some ways to stay on top of your goals.
Use visual reminders. Write down your goals on post-its notes and place them around your workspace to motivate yourself. Keep a project planning pad on your desk to help you stay organized and see key dates and action items.
Hold a planning session. Conduct a Sunday night planning session to review progress on your goals on a weekly and monthly basis.
Have a support system. It’s easier to stick with your goals when you have positive reinforcement. Listen to inspiring podcasts. Establish a check-in with friends and email each other once a week or hold monthly zoom calls to discuss progress and challenges. Talk about your goals on social media and find like minded people share goals with.
Remember: be gentle with yourself during this process. When it comes to goals, it’s completely normal to lose motivation and confidence from time to time. Don’t let yourself be discouraged by the pace of your progress, just make sure to stick with it. It’s okay if you haven’t picked up a paintbrush in weeks, it’s never too late to pick it up again. It’s okay if you’ve abandoned your meditation routine, just start right now.
If you experience setbacks with your goals, try to reflect on them and gauge any lessons learned. By gaining clarity on failure and rejection, you’ll be better equipped to handle any bumps in the road in the future.What are some of your goals for the new year? Share them with us on Facebook or Instagram. We can’t wait to cheer you on in 2021!