How I’m Getting Back on Track in 2021

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?

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7 Comments

  1. Hello Jen! I was off this year too. So new better systems came into my life, The 5am Club, dumped some others that were no longer revelant. Officially retired, now I can do my beeloved Arts! I pray that this will be a better year for all of us. I did keep my Devotionals up. Have a blessed Day! Mattie

  2. Really looking forward to the weekly emails :). My husband was diagnosed with severe atrial fibrillation and had surgery in February. In April we decided to sell our home- a piece of our dream life we’d set up in Dallas-Fort Worth, and move back to be closer to our roots and family. We bought an RV to live in while the house was on the market through closing. We’ve wanted one forever, plus pets, husband works from the and Covid did NOT. make living in the house while it was on the market feasible. Hubby’s work has been 10-12 hour days (telecommute, fortunately) for months, so evvvverything else is/was my job.
    Got to Tulsa, lucked out and got exactly the house we wanted in an INSANE seller’s market (low interest rates). I hit the wall depression wise two weeks before Thanksgiving. Slowly, gratefully climbing back and REALLY looking forward to your weekly emails!

  3. Gosh, I feel ya. The stress just sucks my motivation and creativity, and the whole family is feeling it. I *know* how to create order and cleanliness; I just can’t seem to do it. I’m dragging, and I know what the doctor will say — are you sleeping enough, eating right, and getting some exercise every day? Uh, no… Looking forward to a fresh start this year!

  4. This year has left me feeling lazy and unproductive. Not that I’ve stopped working, but that I feel unmotivated to really work to meet my goals. One thing 2020 has done for me is made me focus on a few things, instead of an entire list of things, like I usually attempt. I think it’s definitely stripped us all down to what’s really important and what can wait. But, I’m praying 2021 will be better because of what we’ve been through.

  5. I loved your summary of this crazy 2020 year. I can truly relate to your stated love of organizational systems and processes to help organize your life. I also have been feeling “off” with my household management and organization during this crazy year of 2020. I retired early 4 years ago, from being a full time Nurse,(RN,BSN) because of chronic heart/health problems. I had worked full time, while raising 7 children, for over 30 years. I thought that retiring from nursing to be a fulltime homemaker would be fun and easy, but I’ve been having a lot trouble this year feeling overwhelmed and unorganized. Additionally, we became “empty nesters” this year when our youngest of the 7 kids left for college. You think this would give me all the time in the world for home making chores, projects, and reading good books, but I’ve been feeling very isolated and scattered these last 10 months. We own a Sawmill which my husband manages, usually working 7 days per week. I go down there a couple days a week and help him with minor projects, but I am not on the payroll. I’m having a hard time staying focused and organized with my household chores, and my daily Christain devotions. We moved to a smaller newer home one year ago, and there are many boxes which I still either need to unpack or give away. Sooooo, any tips or ideas that you have would be greatly appreciated, thanks ????

    1. You said it perfectly – this has been the year of feeling “scattered”!!! Its been extremely difficult to refocus and regroup.

  6. I had plans on getting the house in order, do better at my diet and exercise, work on my cross stitching and sewing but no, i got lazy and all wrapped up in the news. so now more happy music, resetting my goals on my diet and to get my health back and im cracking the whip on getting this house in order they way i see fit, bf can make him a mancave and put his things in that! lol

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