So you set realistic goals for 2021 and stay motivated

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Laura Vanderkam, podcaster, time management and productivity expert and author of “Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done,” said the essence of goal setting is “figuring out what.” we can do with the resources available to us. ”In view of the corona pandemic, this year also includes being honest about your own mental and emotional reserves.

Kimberly Cummings, owner of Manifest Yourself, a leadership development company, added that this year people should ditch all the “rules” for setting goals, but not completely saying goodbye to goals. “It’s important to keep setting goals to work towards the career and life you want,” she said. “The way in which you achieve your goals can be different; but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have any goals to work towards. “

Decades of research show that people who have goals are more likely to achieve them. A 2015 study found that more than 70 percent of people who wrote down clearly defined commitments and shared their goals with others achieved them.

If you also want to set realistic and motivating goals for your professional and private life for the year 2021, then the following advice from managers, coaches and other experts could be helpful for you.

First recharge your batteries, then reflect

Cummings has observed that many of their customers have been sprinting without a break since the pandemic began. Because of this, she is not surprised that many people find it difficult to set goals. She says we have to recover first if we really want to set goals that we are comfortable with and are excited about.

But how exactly does it work? Jon Staff, managing director of Getaway, a company that rents eco-friendly cabins to city dwellers, believes simple routines help. He recommends small quiet moments for reflection as the first step in embarking on long-term planning. For example, he has stocked up on pocket-sized notebooks that he uses every morning. “I write down the first things that come to my mind and I don’t worry if it’s logical,” he says.

Cummings had planned the last two weeks of December 2020 just for herself, knowing that 2021, when she will publish her first book, will be pretty hectic. “Do something to relax,” she said. “After that, when you feel a little more like yourself, you can still take stock.”

Celebrate bright spots

In addition, experts recommended reflecting on the “bright spots” of the past year so that you can build on them in 2021. “2020 was a year none of us expected, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was a failure,” said Cummings. “Give yourself time to honestly think about everything that happened. What did you achieve? Take some of the good things with you. “

Don’t just think about it, document it too. “Write everything down. It doesn’t matter if it was a project that was completed, a day you felt good, a fear that was overcome, and keep doing it until you feel good, ”said Kim Nguyen, Human Resources Director at Company Alloy.

Being grateful also helps, added Cummings. If keeping a journal is “too much” for you, she recommends sticking post-it notes on walls, doors, furniture or mirrors, recording a voice memo or starting the day with an inspiring song. “Find what reminds you to be grateful so you can remember successes,” she said.

Think of turning points in the past

If that doesn’t help, Cummings advises thinking about times that represent a turning point in your life. For example, if you’re a parent who managed the home office and homeschooling, or an entrepreneur who successfully digitized their business, reflect on how you’ve changed your strategy for it. “No matter what goals you had set yourself before Covid, pat yourselves on the shoulder that you were flexible and mastered challenges,” she said

Noa Matz, a social psychologist at F2 Venture Capital who works with startups in Israel, says that celebrating success has another benefit: it helps store positive energy. In her work with founders, Matz describes the extreme highs and lows of VC as “manic depressive”. The highs, she said, lift the mood while the lows can deplete mental capacity completely.

To help founders deal with this volatility, it celebrates every win, no matter how small. In this way, the mental and emotional energy of the team is retained as a reserve for future challenges. This is especially important when “success” feels far away.

Prioritize your mental health

For many people, the pandemic has caused or exacerbated depression, anxiety and burnout. Now, more than ever, it is time to make mental health a priority.

Research shows that a person’s well-being benefits not only their health and relationships, but also their professional performance. For example, positive moods can increase creativity and improve your problem-solving skills at work.

“Delete the word ‘goal’ and think about what makes you happy,” said Cummings. “Then think about how you can put a little bit of it in every day.” She said she recently started roller skating because she remembered how much she loved it as a child.

Creates space for uncertainty

“Don’t set goals just because you think others will expect them from you,” added Vanderkam. “Set goals that are stimulating and inspiring for you. Feel free to set goals that are simply about making yourself feel better – like calling your best friend every week or taking a real lunch break at work. “

Setting goals in changeable, uncertain times also means preparing yourself mentally for constant adjustments. Oisin Hanrahan, founder and managing director of Handy, a platform for offering domestic services, sets goals that he describes as “clear-unclear-clear” by setting a clear, long-term goal and a clear first step towards achieving it. “The middle part requires flexibility,” he said.

For example, Hanrahan moved from New York City to South Carolina shortly after the pandemic outbreak – his long-term goal was to keep his family safe while he worked remotely. Hanrahan set “clear” short-term goals as he organized his family’s move and led his company through the early stages of the pandemic. Now he sets himself intermediate goals – and whether these last weeks or months varies.

Focus on the process, not the goal

These “fuzzy” goals, he says, serve as “plugs for what’s left after planning as far in advance as possible.” If you can only set short-term goals for 24 hours or a week, that’s fine , he said. When you have achieved a short term goal, sit down and adjust another, always working towards your long term goal.

The pandemic also changed the way Greg Ng, executive director of web optimization firm Brooks Bell, defined success. “My goals are now more about consistency and frequency, not summation,” he says.

As a long-distance runner and frequent traveler, Ng used to set goals around results. His personal goals for 2020 included, for example, five new passport stamps and weekly running routes. But when he “lost the ground under his feet in March”, he said, he had to “return to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs”.

Ensures consistency

“Our corporate goals are now focused on using our time effectively and doing things that will help the community,” he said. “Instead of saying that we want to achieve X by the end of the year, we’re saying that we want to devote a certain amount of time of our day, month or quarter to these initiatives.”

He also established new routines in his personal life. He stopped counting miles and stopped running on consecutive days. In the meantime, his family initiated Sunday evening painting sessions to counteract the isolation of virtual work and school.

“We have regained a level of creativity that we didn’t have in our daily life,” he says. “It gives us something constant that we can look forward to in a very chaotic, volatile world.”

Greg Ng

Try a vision board

Vanderkam calls these goals “process goals”. She said that people often set unrealistic goals that ignore logical factors or life circumstances. But process goals that describe the “how” and not just the “what” are long-lived, she said. Sarah (Riegelhuth) Hawley starts each day with a cup of coffee and a diary entry as she takes a look at a collage hanging over her desk: her 2020 vision board.

Based on the idea that the visualization of life goals helps to achieve them, vision boards have become popular alternatives (or additions) to traditional goal setting. Instead of performance-based goals, people create vision boards from inspiring images and slogans to artistically portray their desired future. “It’s kind of an anchor to me, something I come back to to center myself on,” said Hawley.

Sarah (Riegelhuth) Hawley

An entrepreneur who has started eight companies, including three multimillion-dollar exits, Hawley is currently the founder and CEO of Growmotely, a platform for sourcing and managing external teams. For most of her life, she was a Type-A, “success-oriented” goal setter who had personal and professional goals in a table. In 2018, she began creating annual vision boards as an antidote to her depression. Now she says these will help her be a happier and more authentic leader.

Hawley starts by wondering how she would like to feel about different areas of her life, from work to relationships. Then she arranges words and pictures according to topic. Last year, Hawley created her 2020 board over three months and finished it on New Years Eve. She sensed a life-changing business idea (but didn’t know what it was), so she put the image of a cheering crowd under words of encouragement.

In the center she placed a flying bird, surrounded by empty space for “growth” and “expansion,” she said. The day after she finished, she met her husband. She also secured investors for Growmotely and got pregnant in 2020 – every year she’s watched the themes of her vision boards materialize, even if it was unplanned.

Sarah (Riegelhuth) Hawley

Hawley hangs her vision boards wherever she works or meditates and uses them to set daily intentions and to-do lists. But she says her main use is to guide her mindset.

“Maybe that’s one of the gifts that can come out of that,” said Hawley. “Instead of focusing on, ‘What will I be in five years?’ It is now, ‘Who can I be right now? How can I be the best possible version of myself now? ‘”

This text has been translated from English. You can find the original here.


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