Goal Setting for 2021

goal setting image of a road

After such a challenging year, who could blame you for wanting to set (and achieve!) some substantial goals in 2021? Well, I’ve got some recommendations to share, but first, we need to address and recognize COVID-19. Being optimistic in life is important and a key to success, but a great attitude has to be tempered by realism too. There’s currently no scientific data to believe that the first quarter and likely the second will be much different from the last half of 2020. But, don’t despair! We learned a lot during 2020, so all hope is not lost – quite the opposite. Just be sure to set yourself two sets of goals that do and don’t account for how the outbreak evolves.

So, a recommendation I want to share is that your goals need to be SMART. Not “smart ass,” just smart. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. The best goals are centered on those five things:

Specific – Running a 10K is a goal. “Start jogging,” umm, not so much.
Measurable – When you run a 10K, there is a clear finish line. “Start jogging and quit when I tired,” no again.
Achievable – “I’m in good health, I’ve got some good shoes, and I used to run. I can work my way up to 10K in a couple of months. On the other hand, “let’s see, it will take an hour to run a 10K, and I have a dinner in 90 mins, so I better get going.” There better be first aid nearby.
Relevant – My doctor said I need to drop 10 lbs. So, taking up running and shooting for a 10K is an excellent way to do that. Versus, there’s always something better to do than running.
Time-Bound – “I want to complete a 10K by July.” Versus, I’m going to start jogging this year.

Very often, when you have mastered a tool like SMART, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. You’ve got yourself a mile-long punch list, and you’re mowing through those suckers and checking them off like a productivity guru. But, be sure to step back and ask yourself if you need to revise or update your plan? Has anything changed? Have you learned something unexpected? If you don’t lift up your head and look forward, you may realize you’re doing a good job of being busy, but maybe that’s not supporting your vision and goals.

Sometimes you can sincerely want to work toward something and have the strategy to achieve it, but you just don’t have the practical skills or knowledge to attain it. Now is the time to invest in getting SMARTer. Did you know the world’s most successful people tend to be life-long learners? Just because you failed Geometry in 10th grade doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to code a WordPress site today. Leaders are always investing in themselves. Whether you take a class online, attend a seminar, or read a book, be humble, and embrace learning something that will propel you forward.

When you reflect back on this crazy year – that just won’t end – take the time to look back at your calendar closely. It’s easy to remember the big stuff and especially the bad stuff but if you are a high achiever you tend to skip past the little good things. We all dismiss our own accomplishments, right? Well, when you string together a bunch of little good things, you realize you’re already on your way to making 2021 better.

Finally, another thing that many top athletes and CEO’s share is that they aren’t afraid to fail. They take risks and push the envelope. They fail fast, learn, and don’t beat themselves up. They just try again. Do you remember the first several years of Amazon? Wall Street analysts and board members wanted Jeff Bezos to be fired because the company wasn’t profitable. Jeff Bezos didn’t take the easy, safe way forward. Nope, he was acquiring other e-commerce brands and building out his infrastructure. If he had played it safe, I guarantee you he wouldn’t be the richest person in the history of the universe. Now that’s a big goal.

What are you ready to conquer in 2021? Start planning today, string small victories together, and great goals will be achieved.