2020 has been without a doubt, the most eventful year in our lifetimes. As the year comes to an end, you might wonder if setting goals for 2021 makes sense at all. As always, it depends.
I’m sure you’ve heard about SMART goals before. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.
For example, let’s say you have put on 30 kg in the past 5 years. “Losing weight” is not an example of a SMART goal. It is relevant but way too generic and not time-bound. Hence, it is difficult to measure and perhaps unachievable. A better wording would be “lose 10 kg by the end of March”, making the goal tick all the SMART boxes.
Setting up SMART goals is not for everyone. It takes organisation skills and a very driven personality. Also remember that setting goals is just the beginning, you need to actually do the work and monitor your progress.
Most people who make resolutions don’t meet them. This could be a combination of making unattainable resolutions, procrastinating and lack of accountability. It could be something else.
If you do choose to make resolutions, make sure you address these issues by:
- Making reasonable resolutions. In this sense, a resolution should look like a SMART goals.
- Don’t leave things until the end of the year – or even past the first trimester. Act sooner rather than later.
- Keep yourself accountable. This could be achieved in different ways, depending on what works for you. You might want to nominate a friend or family member to keep you accountable, you might want to do it by posting on social media.
Perhaps the most sustainable, gentler approach is to focus on building better habits. They say it takes 21-30 days to build a habit. This means consistency is key and way more important than willpower. What this looks like in practice is simple (but not necessarily easy): choose a habit that you want to incorporate into your life and do it every day for 21-30 days. No excuses. Here are a few pointers to make this work:
- Pick a reasonable habit. If you have never meditated, don’t shoot for 1 hour per day – 5 minutes will do.
- Set a recurring appointment in your calendar, an alarm or a reminder in your phone to make sure you do your daily bit.
- Try to do your daily bit first thing in the morning to minimise the chance of things getting in the way.
- Accountability helps with habits, too. Again, this can be achieved with a friend or family member, or by posting on social media.
Play it by ear
One of the biggest lessons of 2020, in my opinion, is that everything is impermanent and we need to learn to be flexible and go with the flow. You don’t need to make big plans for the new year every single year. You can just relax, wait and see what life throws at you.
Setting goals for 2021?
If you are mentally struggling with what has happened this year, don’t worry about setting goals for 2021 as these will only add more stress to your life. If you do want to set goals or resolutions for next year, make sure they are SMART. Alternatively, think about building habits and focus on the process rather than the destination.