Staying SMART: Setting goals for 2021

The end of the year tends to be a time for reflection and pondering resolutions. Some may see the new year as a chance to put 2020 in the past, while others see it as a chance for a fresh start. Setting goals for 2021 may be particularly important, as the turmoil of this year found a lot of us off track with our life goals and feeling unsettled about planning for the future.

Goal setting is known to be a powerful motivator toward getting what you want. Take time to consider what you’d like to accomplish in 2021. Are there things you have always wanted to do, or things you want to stop putting off? Think broadly—your goals can focus on education, fitness, finances, your household or space, employment, recreation, hobbies, or almost anything! Once you have an idea in mind, ask yourself why the goal is important to you. Acknowledging its significance will help keep you motivated and committed to achieving your goal.

If you always make New Year’s resolutions, but never stick to them, maybe your goals are not realistic or you haven’t created a good plan. You’ve likely heard of SMART goals, which are considered the gold standard for successful goal setting. The acronym was coined by George T. Doran in 1981 as a corporate management strategy. Outlined below are Doran’s tenets of goal setting, which are still widely used today in business planning, education, and personal endeavors.

  • Specific: You don’t want your goals to be vague. Making them specific will help you focus and provide direction in designing a plan to achieve your goal. Define the goal for yourself and, if possible, break it down into sections when outlining your strategy. Ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Measurable: Goals need to be measurable to ensure that you can track and quantify your success in meeting them. Consider how to assess the achievement of your goal and determine what kind of performance metrics are applicable. When you’ve created steps or tasks, you can easily keep track of progress and completion.
  • Achievable: Don’t set yourself up for failure! Creating a goal that is too lofty or unachievable will not help you move forward into 2021 with confidence. Consider goals that have manageable timelines and are realistic, given your other personal and professional responsibilities.  
  • Relevant: Align your goals with all areas of your life and make sure they are relevant to your overall situation and outlook. Your commitment to reaching your goals is related to their pertinence in your life. If this is a personal goal, is everyone in your household on board? For professional goals, be sure to loop in your co-workers for support.
  • Timely: Create a timeline to help focus on when you will meet your goal. Set up a schedule and create reminders for yourself on a calendar, send yourself emails, or even use sticky notes to help you stay organized and on track with deadlines.

Ready to start 2021 on the right path? Whether you always create goals heading into the new year or it’s something you want to begin this year, we hope you are successful in planning for and meeting your goals. Happy goal setting and good luck!