Around Thanksgiving every year, I sit down and conduct a year-end review. What have I achieved? What do I need to focus more on?
Well, it came as no surprise to discover that I’ve managed to do very little in 2020, and all the goals I set were pre-pandemic. A 6-month pause wasn’t on my radar. Once we went into lockdown some goals didn’t apply at all. Others weren’t practical. And there were projects I just didn’t have the bandwidth for.
My 2020 goals made sense in January. They included participating in seasonal 5ks, refreshing our home, getting my credit card balance to zero, volunteering weekly at my local historical society, posting regular content, launching a youtube channel, creating long-term goals and reinvigorating this website. I’ve done almost none of these. Whoops.
Illnesses and emergencies, changes in jobs or family life, and global pandemics can make it hard to maintain the motivation needed to reach your goals. For many, myself included, slogging through the day-to-day that is living through a global pandemic made it hard to keep in touch with goals we set for ourselves in January when we were starry-eyed and hopeful to make 2020 our best year ever.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals for 2021, and I think this year’s goals will be drastically different than previous year’s.
New Years Goal Setting Of Years Past
In the past I’ve set very specific annual goals for myself in the categories of health, relationships, physical environment, work, self development, and finances. As an example one of my goals was to volunteer at my local historical society 2-3 hours every week.
The historical society closed in the spring of 2020, and still hasn’t re-opened.
Living in constant reaction mode made it difficult for me to get back into my goal setting groove and when things got weird I abandoned most of my goals.
In 2021 I am getting back in touch with the things I want to achieve, while giving myself and my goals the space needed during these uncertain times. Instead of setting very specific goals and milestones, I am going to focus on the routines, systems and habits.
Start Paying Attention to the Process
Have you read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits? It is one of my all time favorite productivity books, I highly recommend it! In his book, Clear lays out the idea that while goals are good at setting direction, habits and systems are what actually determine your progress.
Basically, Stop focusing on the end result and start paying attention to the process.
If you completely ignore your goals and focus only on your system, would you still get results?
I think you will, and that’s what I’m betting on for 2021.
Building Habits & Routines
I have full control over how I spend my time and energy, and that is what I am focusing on in 2021. When I check off my daily habits, implement my systems, and complete routines, those are daily wins. I don’t have to wait until the end of the year to feel like I’ve made progress or moved closer to my goal.
My intention is progress not perfection.
I know a lot of us are getting our goal systems in place for 2021, and if you feel like 2020 was one big set back, I want to take this opportunity to remind you it is ok to try something new or switch gears.
If you have an all or nothing mentality like I do at times, or have a perfectionist streak, try to celebrate your progress, and don’t negate the little daily accomplishments that are actually very important to your success and happiness.
I’ll be following this post up with the actual routines, systems, and habits I am planning to use in 2021. Right now, they are in rough draft form in the notes section of my weekly planner.
How did you do in 2020? Will you be setting goals differently in 2021?