New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

Setting Yourself Up for Success in 2021

It’s that time year again! A fresh calendar, another twelve months to take advantage of—if you’ve set goals to strive toward.

There’s no doubt that most of us are particularly eager for a clean slate in 2021, but what do we hope to get out of the year ahead?

1. Choose Your Destination

It often helps to start with the end in mind, as they say. Where do you want to be in ten years or five years or even one year? Once you know what you want to be doing or how much money you’d like to be making or where you want to be living, then you can start working backward to see how you can get there.

Figure out the big milestone moments you’ll need to meet in order to get to that final goal, perhaps getting an education or earning a certain certification, and then keep breaking down the steps further and further until you get to the things that you can do today.

2. Look Back for Patterns

If you’re not sure about where you’re headed, it may help to look at where you’ve come from. It can be easy to feel like we know who we are without giving it very much thought. If you’ve always worked in certain types of jobs, you might think that’s what your future holds too.

But maybe you’ve always had a knack for computers. Or working on cars is your favorite hobby. Or you always did well in math class. You might not have given a lot of thought to those strengths before, but they could point the way to a brand-new chapter.

3. Get Very Specific

A quick way to sabotage your goal-meeting progress is to start with vague goals. If you don’t know exactly what you’re aiming for, how will you know if you’ve made it?

There are lots of tips for nailing down your goals—like making them SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based)—but how you do it is less important than actually doing it. It’s best to put your goals (what you plan to achieve and by when) in writing and to keep them somewhere that you won’t forget about them (the fridge, the bathroom mirror, and the dashboard are popular choices).

It’s also helpful to check in regularly to see how it’s going: Your plan can always be revised, but only if you have a plan to start with.

4. Create Accountability

One of the best ways to ensure you make progress toward your goals is to have someone to be accountable to. Making big life changes or trying to meet an important goal can feel overwhelming, and there may be times when you’d rather just watch TV or sleep in than to show up for yourself.

Having someone else you report to—whether in a formal capacity or casually to check in—can help you stick with it. This can also be someone who acts like a cheerleader on the sidelines, giving your morale a boost when you hit a rough patch.

5. Celebrate the Wins

It may feel like no sweat to meet your daily or weekly goals but when you’re talking about long-term change, you’re bound to hit snags and obstacles. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate those milestone achievements and minor wins along the way—no matter how small they might feel.

Getting to check another step off the list, meet another checkpoint, or claim a new accomplishment are all worthy of appreciation, even if (or maybe especially if) you’ve still got a long way to go. These are perfect chances to remind yourself of the progress you’re making and why you started this journey in the first place.

6. Keep Going

You won’t reach your goals if you quit on them! You may need to take a break or adjust your plans, but don’t forget what you hoped to accomplish by setting them. Your goals can help you change your life, so just keep going!

If your 2021 goals could benefit from hands-on career training, the Imagine America Foundation has a robust database of partner schools who offer programs in a wide variety of fields. Search by location or program type here!

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