As we head into the holidays, many of us are thinking ahead past the celebrations and pondering how to finish our goals next year! What do we want to change during 2021? After all, 2020 has been a rough year, and we want things to be different in 2021!
Even if you usually don’t set New Year’s goals, it seems that the baton passing of 2020 to 2021 is a good time to reconsider, shake things up, and make plans for a better year. We’re all stronger, more resilient, and open to change now that 2020 is mercifully winding to a close.
So if you want to make some changes but haven’t had great success in the past, here are some tips from someone’s who’s eaten some elephants one bite at a time.
Write it Down
I don’t like the word resolution when it comes to setting goals. A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something,” (Oxford Dictionary). I prefer to consider my “resolutions” as goals, which are “the result or achievement toward which effort is directed,” (Dictionary.com). This gives more fluidity to the entire process, making completion of the goals more realistic. Some goals are meant to be pliable as the year progresses, and it’s not failure to change goals as circumstances change.
It’s been said that a goal isn’t a goal until it’s written down. For the most part I agree with that. Some goals are so general and broad though that they might not need written down, such as “graduate from college.” Even though, I must admit, I wrote that goal down years ago. I’m a goal finisher, apparently one of the 8% who accomplishes New Year’s resolutions every year. That doesn’t mean that I accomplish every single one of the goals that I set ( I set about 40 goals this year) though. I usually accomplish many goals in full, many more in part, and others not at all. The goals that I don’t get to are obviously the lowest priorities, something I’ll get to later on in this post.
How Many Goals?
Just how many goals do you need to write down? Well, that’s up to you and what you think is helpful. I look at my goals as guidance for where my time and efforts are going to go over the course of the year. I don’t see them as unyielding words in stone that can’t be adjusted as needed. What works for me might not work exactly the same for you.
Years ago, I showed my list of goals to a group of ladies at my church during a lesson that I was teaching. I was dismayed by the gasps that came from the group! Apparently my goal list was a bit too daunting to share! Looking back at the embarrassing moment isn’t so awful now, but at the time I was rather embarrassed for setting so many goals and admitting it! I’ve come to realize that what works for me is OK for me, and what works for other people is OK for them!
How to Track Your Goals
How do you write down your goals? I type mine up and add pictures or boxes that I cross off and add notes to during my monthly review. Be sure and make the tracking chart appealing to you. I’ve found that for daily goals, such as my goals this year of getting up to 50 sit-ups, 50 leg lifts, and 50 bikes at once, get more attention when I write the daily tracking on a sticky paper next to my bed. I’ll throw the sticky paper on my bed or floor to remind me to do the exercises. As of the end of November I’ve been able to get up to 50 on all three, just not all at once yet (but it’s coming!). Other goals don’t need daily attention, and I track those on my regular schedule as needed.
Step By Step
No, I’m not referring to the New Kids on the Block song (uh oh, now it’s going to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day)! I’m referring to breaking down the goal into its building blocks. Let’s look at an example from the life of yours truly.
I had a booming music studio in my home before I went to work full time here at DataMaster. I taught piano, guitar, and flute to upwards of 25 kids. How did I build my studio up? It didn’t happen overnight. First, I looked at every building block that it would take to construct a thriving home business. Next, I put each block in place, one at a time. Then I:
- Told friends.
- Put an ad on my truck.
- Put my information on local classified ads.
- Posted fliers on my personal Facebook page.
After a short time I was full, along with my daughters who also taught piano and guitar. Step by step I built a solid studio and from there on word of mouth kept us full for the most part, with an occasional post on Facebook. I even took the advertising off of my truck!
Let’s elaborate on taking a large goal and breaking it down into it’s building blocks. Break those building blocks down into the smallest chunks that are doable for you. If you want to write a book, make a goal to work on your book for ten minutes a day, if that’s all you can fit in. I wrote a book a few years back and despite a complete rewrite, was able to accomplish that goal by working on it a little bit at a time.
The same concept applies to upgrading your education, learning to play a musical instrument, fixing up your home, building your business, or improving family relationship. What are the small steps that you can do every day, or every few days? Let me share a couple of examples that might strike a chord with you!
Upgrading Your Education
I went back to college in 2011 when I was 37 years old. At the time I had 4 children still at home. My husband worked more than full time as a physical therapist. We had a lot of medical issues in our family that we dealt with. On top of all of that, we were just plain busy! I knew that there was no way I would be able to go to school full time, complete my degree, and stay sane, so I signed up for just a couple of classes. There were even two semesters in the following years when I only took one math class and nothing else!
I finished my associates degree, took two years off to deal with family health issues, then went back to school part-time. Later, I jumped in full-time as my circumstances allowed. All in all it took me about eight years to get my bachelors degree). But it was worth it! If I had tried going full-time, I would’ve failed. I knew that, and I set my course up in a way that I knew was doable and would end in success.
Parable of the Tuna
My second example of starting small is what I’ll call the Parable of the Tuna. When my family was young and my husband had just graduated from graduate school and started his first job out of school, we had no money. None. But we wanted to be prepared for whatever the future might hold, and so we started building a food storage. I looked at the list of how much food we were supposed to have for each child and adult. It was completely and utterly impossible financially for us to expect to buy that amount anytime soon.
Instead of giving up, I decided to do what was realistic and possible for our young family, I started buying canned tuna a couple of cans at a time. That was it. But over time that effort paid off and the day came when we had enough tuna to be considered a proper storage amount for our family!
From there I started buying staples in small amounts. A few moves later and with a persistent effort at buying a little here and there, I could honestly say that we had the basics that we needed!
Priorities Are Where You Spend Your Time!
Not sure what your priorities are? Where do you spend you time? That’s your priority! It might surprise you if you take stock of where your time goes everyday and what you think your priorities are. Your priorities are what you spend your time on, whether you realize it or not.
I like how the Academic Coach describes priorities:
Priorities…start to narrow down which goals have more importance…and what concrete steps you need to take…in order to move towards the bigger picture goal. It is most effective if you plan these in weekly segments – anything longer than that, and you soon find your weeks are spent doing things that are in fact not furthering your progress towards your goal.The Academic Coach
There’s the clincher, where your time goes is what your priorities are!
Once you decide on your goals, it’s time to write them down and track them so that you can finish them! I’m a big fan of pen and paper. Printer ink and paper works pretty well too. My yearly goals are all printed up and I track them every month with a pen. I have tried online time managers and have settled on Trello. I like Trello’s kanban cards and its ease of use. And the basic version, which works great for me, is free!
I’ve tried to go completely to Trello but find that having a written list is actually more helpful for daily personal to-dos, whereas Trello works really well for work to-dos.
Outlook or Google Calendars
Online calendars are helpful. I add appointments to my Outlook calendar and events that I need reminders for.
My family and I track our upcoming events on a wall calendar that we go through every week, making sure that our Outlook or Google calendars are in sync with it.
Find the Best Tool for YOU!
It’s all about finding the best tools that fit your particular situation. If you run your own business, it’s of the utmost priority to come across as organized to your clients! We’ve all dealt with businesses that are chaos and with businesses that are organized. The difference is in the effort to stay organized and use the proper tools. I’m dealing with a car body shop right now that won’t get my business again! They seem to have no sense of communication or organization and their poor planning makes for a miserable customer experience! A few simple tools would help the business immensely, but it doesn’t seem to be a priority to them.
Go Get ‘Em!
I hope that some of my tips and experiences have given you some new ideas for how to finish your goals! For those of us who are always moving forward and not content to sit comfortably in one spot, our life is a constant iteration of improving our processes and ourselves while we’re at it. Setting goals once a year, once a month, or as often as we feel the need to, is an important part of growing socially, mentally, physically, spiritually, and professionally!
Best wishes as you start setting up your 2021 goals now!