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6 Steps to Ace Your 2021 Goals

New year has come (bye 2020!). It’s time to set up new goals. Or maybe you’ve started that since before 2021 kicks in. Either way, it’s THE time of the year to reflect and make resolutions. But you might be wary. Is it just a hype? Will I be able to follow it through and pass the new year successfully? Or will I just go back to the normal way even before January ends?

I’m writing this to let you know that it is possible to set new goals and see it through the year.

These are the steps to have a lasting goal:

1. Write the goals down

Preferably handwritten. There’s something about writing by hands, rather than typing or dictating it. It’s proven by science that handwriting our thoughts made it clearer and more absolute to the brain. Neural pathways connections are formed when writing things down. It’s like writing on your skin with some sort of permanent ink, but not to that extreme. Write them in your diary for 2021 or in post-its and place them where you’ll see them everyday. I personally like to write my goals - both personal and professional - in a Goal Book, where I can see what goals I’ve written on which day, what goals I’ve accomplished and those I didn’t accomplish.

2. Set a deadline on the goals

The note in my Goal Book

I forgot how I came up with this, but I found this writing in my Goal Book that I started on September last year:

Goals are wishes with deadline

So, if your goals don’t have a deadline, they are just some wishes! Without a clear deadline (and actually following it through), you won’t take the necessary actions to achieve the goal. Be very specific when setting the goal. If I want to get new clients for my business, I’d write something like this: My business will have at least 5 new clients by 30th September at 12pm.

Not: I will have new clients for my business this year.

See the difference?

This is something that SMART can help. SMART is a mnemonic acronym of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound; it’s common among project management topics. SMART is what makes a goal more likely to be accomplished. It makes sure the goals are realistic and measurable.

3. Read them at least 3x a day

I don’t always do this, but even without doing it, I still managed to get some of my goals done. Most of the time it’s done exactly like how it’s written on my Goal Book. I guess some of these goals must’ve remained in my subconscious mind, which shaped my actions to follow through the goal. Imagine how faster and more powerful it’d be if I’m actually reading them thrice a day.

4. Get an accountability partner

Social accountability is a powerful enough drive to make people do what they need to do. I’ve seen online courses being set up with a social accountability feature, particularly a course that teaches you the system to self-publish your book in xx days. Basically, you’ll pair with a fellow student with the function of doing a periodic check on where you are in the process. There won’t be any real punishment if you haven’t done what you’ve set on doing. It’s the shame that makes it a strong motivation. This is a great system, and I can see that it works for some people. If you’re someone who likes to have someone checking on your progress, then this step is great for you. If it’s not for you, skip this step.

5. Allow yourself to fail…

Let’s face it. There will be hiccups when you’re just starting with a new behavior. Life gets in the way. You’re too tired to do anything else. Priority shifts. That’s okay. Rather than self-punishing yourself for not following through, it’s better to do the things you actually can do and finish it for the day.

There are many days when things don’t go according to my plan, either it’s because of myself or other external factors. When these happened, it’s no use for me to regret what's happened (or not happened). It’s healthier and more loving to give yourself a space when things don’t go according to the plan. If this means taking it easy for the day, yes it is. Because there is no use regretting over the lost hours. For us women, there are times when things can be rough both physically and mentally at least once in a month (I’m sure men must have those down time too!). If we keep beating ourselves down, it’ll only make things worse. Sloppy results, unhappy colleagues, et cetera et cetera. The best thing to do is to care for yourself and listen to what you really need.

6. … And continue again the next day

When self-care has been applied and you’re back to the equilibrium, you’ll want to get back on the game as soon as possible. Otherwise you’ll run the risk of losing the momentum and having to start from the beginning again. Things are generally more difficult when starting compared to when you’re already used to it.

Now you know the steps needed to achieve those 2021 goals. If you’d like to read more about goal setting, one book that I'd recommend is Jack Canfield’s How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be: The 25 Principles of Success. One principle is about goal-setting, and he gave some inspiring examples as well both from his own and from others’ experience.

May I suggest another goal for the rest of 2021? “I will write 3 SMART goals, both personal and professional, on the afternoon of the 25th of each month until at least June 2021”. How does that sound?

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