Welcome to 2021– you’ve made it this far. It’s quite likely you’ve found the new year strikingly similar to 2020, and for that we can all empathize (and collectively groan). After the New Year’s Day bliss of pajamas, your favorite streaming service, and perhaps 24 hours of careful adherence to each and every resolution, the new year might have lost its pizzazz.
To ensure 2021 is more than just a head-splitting hangover from 2020, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to start the year off right, creatively formulate concrete and realistic resolutions, and make a plan to stick with them.
Brainstorming goals for the new year might be difficult given how unpredictable our future is at the moment. Creating categories serves as a great framework from which to build your sanctuary of self-improvement. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Finances and money
- Career and professional development
- Health and wellness
- Interpersonal relationships
- Recreation and leisure
These umbrella categories can help you sketch out the big picture, before diving into the nitty gritty habits that need to change or be created to get you there.
Once you’ve pondered the big ticket items for 2021, it’s time to break them down into actionable steps. The grunt work of writing goals is organizing yourself to stay realistic and energized for the journey ahead.
- Put it on paper– There’s no form of accountability like making a tangible record of your aspirations and intentions. Whether it be long-form prose with pen and paper, bullet points on a google doc, or carefully placed post-it notes around every corner or your home, the thoughtful drafting process is essential to success.
- Keep it simple– the more complex the goal, the less likely you are to remember the value in seeing it to the finish line. Less is more.
- Check-in– we all fall off the bandwagon, we’re just human. Set a calendar reminder on the first day of each season so you don’t find yourself making the same goals at new year’s next year. Know you’re more prone to resolution neglect? Try monthly on the same day as your birthday so you always remember: on the 3rd of the month I sit down with my goals list to reassess and strategize.
- Reward- often. You are the boss, employee and primary beneficiary of your own deliberate goals. Establishing a personal rewards system will keep you energized and on track. Leveraging the recreation and leisure category is a compelling way to reward yourself while also fulfilling another goal. Whenever I have a big win at work, I try ordering from a new restaurant to expand my palate.
If all else fails
There’s no shame in recognizing that traditional goal-writing is not the most effective way for you to make a change. Brainstorming creative ways to execute your goals is the best way to keep yourself engaged when it’s all too easy to quit:
- Is doodling the way to your heart? This New York Times article explains a More/Less technique, in which you create a t-chart and draw mini-sketches of things you want to do less and more of in the new year.
- Jazzed about data? Tracking your progress and understanding the gradual process by which goals become reality is the key to success. Many quantifiable goals can be tracked and turned into data visualizations or color curated spreadsheets as an effective way to make your goals assimilate with how your brain works.
- Don’t have time or headspace for another notebook, document or app? Integrate your goals with tools you already use every day. Many productivity tools used in the workplace such as Monday.com, Trello and Evernote allow for personal use as well. Create a separate project, note, board or pin on your personal account with goals and tasks so your life is all in one place. Use a specific app to make grocery or to-do lists? Let your goals shine in list form there as well.