How To Set Goals for 2021

Finally, 2020 is in the rearview mirror. ✌️

With what has arguably been the most challenging year in living memory giving way, vaccines are beginning to be distributed and life will hopefully begin to normalize.

Although it has been tough, now is the time for optimism. 

If 2020 came with the goal of survival, it is time to dream bigger and work towards more. Rebuild connections, save for something, travel, learn a language, or set a fitness or career goal.

With your experience of the last 12 months, you are primed with strength, resilience, and the ability to adapt. Now looking forward, the best thing to is to set some goals.

How to set your goals?

For all the excitement at the possibilities, nothing helps more than creating definitive goals with a route to success. Good intentions aren’t actionable. Plans are!

Make Your Goals Personal

Everyone leads very different lives with different dreams and motivations. We all look at our situations and see different areas for improvement.  

2021 might finally be the year where you set goals to work on yourself. Perhaps you commit to meditation, fitness, health or improving your relationships. Maybe your goals are more extrinsic. You want to make career changes, earn a promotion or save for a deposit or new car. No one goal is more important than the other as long as it matters to you. 

We are motivated by what is important to us. Other people might be impressive but mimicking is only temporary fuel. At the end of the day, you are not going to get out of bed on a wet Sunday morning to go for a run because your friend posted their efforts on Instagram or Strava.  Any goal you set must have personal meaning or value for you. 

Be Specific – Ambiguity Begets Procrastination

Obviously the world is your oyster when it comes to setting different goals. You might choose based on categories such as: 

  • Physical and Mental Health
  • Career Goals
  • Education
  • Spirituality
  • Financial
  • Family

There are millions of different potential ideas but what is most important is that your goals are defined and specific. 

“Right, 2021, I’m going to get fit.” That is a great aim to have but what does it mean? What is tangible and how will you manage it? Fitness is subjective but attending 2 yoga classes a week or running 10km by March, for example, are specific. 

Attaching specificity to your aim gives you something tangible to measure yourself against. 

Goals should be Measurable and Achievable

By now you will likely be thinking this is the SMART goal setting formula and you’re not far off. 

Without being able to measure, how will you know if you are making progress? The ability to make progress creates that accountability to yourself. If you know you need to save a certain amount every month to buy a new car, you are more likely to close that Amazon tab. 

Knowing what constitutes success gives further clarity to your aims. Saying you want to buy a car in June is one thing but are the measurable steps saving $500 a month until then? And is that achievable?

Setting unattainable goals is nearly worse than not setting any because you are left with a sense of helplessness and failure by the end. A goal must be realistically achievable. 

  • What do you need to do Day 1?
  • What are the milestones along the way?
  • What is the perfect day? What does a great day look like?
  • What actions need to be taken each month?
  • When do you need to be done by?

Create an Implementation Intention

Every great success story has a beginning and that is your implementation intention.. It is the hand held first step you take on the path to achievement. 

Most people are well versed in setting a goal with the greatest intention in the full believing they will start “eventually”. This is where procrastination enters the fray leaving you to kick the can down the road likely but there is a trick. A hack if you will.

The British Journal of Psychology found that if you physically write down what you will do by when, you have a 91% chance of success. They used the following exact statement and found far greater levels of achievement by their participants versus those who verbally agreed a plan:

“During the next week I will do (ACTION) on (WHAT DAY?) at (THIS TIME) in (THIS PLACE).”  

Avoid the Kryptonite

Everyone gets derailed from their goals from time to time. It is human and it is ok. 

Your goal should be designed to leave you in a better place than when you started and should not be the cause of misery. 

There is certainly room for the odd cheat day, impulse buy or sick day. These befall even the most disciplined. Keep an eye out for the things that might throw you off track and break the momentum.

What are the things that throw you off course? Drinking too much, watching too much youtube, eating too many sweets? Knowing what throws you off track is just as important as keeping an eye on what you what to achieve.

Goals get off track for all sorts of reasons. People can convince themselves of anything; especially failure. The fear of failure is often enough to distract you from achieving the most important things but it is a fallacy. The pursuit of your goal is with the ambition to improve yourself, if you fail, it’s not over. Keep trying even when progress is slow or invisible. Don’t allow excuses or a lack of focus to creep in and don’t give up

Stay Patient

We live in a world where instant gratification is easy come by and everything we want we can order online – except change. You can’t order your goals and have them in 3 business days. 

With endless distractions, it is arguably harder now to achieve your goals than any other time in history but we also have more tools to help us. The main thing is to be patient with yourself. Revisit the purpose for pursuing the goal when the going gets tough and do what you can to not miss milestones frequently.


Each of us has been treading water for most of 2020 but 2021 is brimming with opportunity.

We are looking at a clean slate and although the immediacy of vaccines isn’t guaranteed, we have reason to hope. 

If you want to embrace 2021 to its fullest, take some time to set yourself some goals. Physically sit down and assess what is important and personal to you in the future. Be specific about what you want to achieve and exactly when you will kickstart your adventure. Watch for what can knock you off track and make your plans attainable and be patient. 

By doing each of these things, you are setting yourself up to achieve and creating direction, optimism, and excitement. It’s about time we all had something to look forward to!

Let us know what goals you have planned for 2021!

Photo by Joshua Earle