Setting and Achieving Goals in 2021

woman writing down goals for 2021

During any given year, setting and sticking to goals can be a tricky yet rewarding task. Like everything else, our 2020 goals have been forced to adapt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, many are opting not to create goals, but rather adopt themes they wish to embody throughout the next 12 months. Below are strategies for setting smart goals and intentions as we begin a new year.

Benefits of Setting Goals

Goal setting is a valuable tool that helps create new behaviors, guide focus, and sustain momentum, according to Positive Psychology. Having a set of goals to work toward can motivate us to develop strategies and behaviors that lead to improved work performance, professional success, and positive mental health.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART goals follow a methodology that outlines specific action steps to make goals more achievable.

  • S – Specific: Be clear in exactly what you want to accomplish and how.
  • M – Measurable: Think about how you will be able to track progress toward the goal.
  • A – Achievable: Be honest with yourself and set a goal that is challenging yet doable.
  • R – Relevant: Ensure this goal aligns with your broader, long-term goals.
  • T – Time-Bound: Pick a date you plan to achieve your goal by.

Goal Setting for Employees

While we are limited on where, when, and how we can interact with one another at this time, developing a set of personal goals to work toward can be beneficial to career success and quality of life.

Focus on what you can control: Your goals should reflect aspects of your life that you have control to change. It’s smart to refrain from the mindset of “I will work toward goals once life goes back to normal.” Even though vaccines are being distributed, you still need to follow COVID-19 safety precautions, explains Henry Ford Health System. Create goals that you can work toward amid the current situation.

Follow a theme: Pick one to three words that you want to embody this year. Create goals around your themes or actively infuse them into your daily life. Examples of themes include grow, connect, gratitude, mindfulness, and resilience.

Align goals with your core values: Creating meaningful goals that align with your soul will better motivate you to achieve them throughout the year. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, align that goal with your mission of reducing risk of disease and living a longer, healthier life.

Set short-term goals: While getting clear on ambitious long-term goals, you should also recognize the value in setting smaller, shorter-term goals. Achieving small goals that eventually lead to your larger goal is a smart way to instill change throughout the year.

Ideas for personal goals amid the pandemic:

  • Improve sleep quality by going to bed earlier and sticking to your new bedtime.
  • Connect with friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers on a weekly basis.
  • Wake up earlier in the morning to better prepare for the day ahead.
  • Stick to an at-home fitness routine.
  • Read a book each month to grow your perspective and understanding of the world.
  • Drink more water throughout the day.
  • Support small businesses by ordering take-out or purchasing gift cards.
  • Spend time outside at least once per day.
  • Practice mindfulness through daily meditation and self-care.

Goal Setting for Employers

Employers, the beginning of a new year is also a great time to set goals for your organizational culture and well-being. While stress in the workplace is normal and healthy for effective operations, too much can hinder productivity and morale. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan shares strategies for managers on how to kick-start the new year by prioritizing employee health and well-being:

  • Conduct regular mental health check-ins that include asking employees how they are doing.
  • Encourage mindfulness by offering breathing and meditation opportunities.
  • Promote the value of sleep to encourage rest and recovery.
  • Offer topic-specific discussion boards and groups.
  • Host virtual meetings with cameras-on so people can see each other.
  • Conduct virtual team-building events.
  • Create opportunities to give back to the community.

Goal setting is an effective way to develop skills and improve quality of life. Whether you are setting specific goals or following intentional themes, taking a moment to get clear on what you want to accomplish this year will be beneficial, both personally and professionally.