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How to Plan & Follow-Through on Your Annual Goal

Yo! I hope 2020 ended on an ok spiritual, physical, and mental note for you. But If it didn’t – don’t fret. In all honesty, as an Optimist, I see the present as a constant opportunity to live and create the life YOU want. I wish that mindset upon you as 2021 starts, but more importantly, I wish you good vibes & “follow-through” on your goals.


Let’s Start With a Pep Talk

If you don’t have any annual goals yet – that’s ok. If you constantly fail at things – that’s ok.

If somewhere deep down inside, you fear setting goals because you don’t want to disappoint yourself or others — that’s more than ok. That is human.

Do not fault yourself for having any fears. We all do.

But… I’m going to ask you, in particular, to be brave in the face of those fears.

Push past any doubts you may be feeling. Everyone doesn’t acknowledge openly their uncertainties, let alone push past them – and that can be self-sabotaging.

You will go beyond any self-imposed thing (like fear) holding you back this year.

You are amazing & you’re here on this site, so you must be dope.

In this post, I want to share a little bit with you about how to set your goals (because it is a new year — so “new you” if you want to – ya’ know?), and some tips on following through on them.


Goal Setting Tip #1: Evaluate What Matters

List out the things that you don’t have right now but have always desired or wanted to accomplish. Once you’ve done that, look at that list and realistically ask yourself, “Why can’t I accomplish this in a year?”

Goals & Motivational quote poster design that says If you want something you've never had you've got to do something you've never done.

If the answer is something like, “I just don’t have the time,” mark that as a maybe because you can always find ways to manage your time a little better, so it might not be disqualified.

But if the answer is something like, “It costs a million dollars, and I don’t have a million dollars,” yes – get rid of that because it has officially become unrealistically obtainable.

The key to this step is in the evaluation part. Once you have that list of things that are even possible to pull-off in a year (when you think about it), move on to the next step.


Goal Setting Tip# 2: Let Experience Decide

The time has come to make a selection. Whether you start big or small depends on if you’ve accomplished a year-long goal before.

If you haven’t ever gone through the grind of self-discipline required to stick to a big goal that takes a little bit of time and consistency (e.g. “I want to lose 50 pounds”), I don’t recommend choosing more than one goal to accomplish this year.

If you have – maybe try two this time around.

If you’re a seasoned pro at getting things done, and you claim small victories all the time – I wouldn’t do any more than 5. There is power in focusing on “a few things” vs. trying to do everything. I also advocate capping things at 5 so that your life stays simple enough to not exhaust yourself with regimenting everything in the name of “checking off goals in 2021”. You want to enjoy the year, too!


Goal Setting Step #3: Add Some Specifics

It is great to know that you want to create an additional stream of income in 2021, it’s even better to note a little about how you plan to do that in the initial wording of the goal itself. Think of this as saying, “I want to create an extra stream of income this year,” versus stating, “I want to generate extra income this year by selling prints of my artwork online.” One paints (no pun intended) a better picture to get you focused and going.

Another example is the simple statement about weight-loss from the previous step. Saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds,” is better than just proclaiming, “I want to lose weight.” You are giving yourself a focus point and a finish-line (or “milestone” if you’re planning to continuously work on this particular thing for years to come) for your one-year goal. And that’s a good thing!


Goal Setting Step #4: Set a Time Limit

Trust me on this, it will help you keep yourself more accountable if you actually set time-specificity to whatever you’re trying to do. Mark it on a calendar and commit to a date.

Goals Due Date - an image of a calendar with dates marked off and a due date circled.

For example, using a few of my many goals this year, I know that I want to have the website for my new consulting side-hustle up and open to the public by January 31, 2021. I know that I need to get my ducks in a row for a certain life change (that I am currently keeping secret) that’s happening on November 1, 2021. I also know that I’m not drinking alcohol at all for the entire year of 2021.

Each of those is an example of specific, but also very different, time limits that I’ve set for myself this year. Some of my goals have more immediacy than others, so that’ll guide where my attention goes for a bit.


Goal Setting Step #5: Pick Your Metric(s)

Determining what you’ll be measuring and its cadence is simple for some goals and might require a little more thought for others. In either case, always consider the context of what you’re actually trying to accomplish.

Sticking with the weight loss example from earlier (because a lot of people go for that in a new year, and that’s great):

If you’re just planning to lose weight – measure your body weight every few days or so. But keep the nuance in mind of what you mean by “lose weight”. Do you really mean “get in shape” or “be more fit”?

If so, you’re likely taking into account a certain aesthetic of working out, and you may not know (yet) that muscle weighs more than fat. If you’re going to the gym regularly (or working out at home due to COVID) and you notice that you start gaining weight as you work out and eat right, that may be due to the fact that you’re gaining new muscle you didn’t have before!

So, it makes simply “measuring weight” and considering regular declines in your pounds a little more complicated. Maybe add in “measure your waistline” or (whatever muscle group you’re interested in) into the mix.

While I won’t press you on setting success-markers for your measurement (e.g. “Lose 1 pound a week”), I will always preach the gospel of: “What gets measured gets done.” MEASURE SOMETHING & record your progress.


Goal Setting Step #6: Celebrate Your Progress

I have mentioned this in other posts, but I fully support positive reinforcement. You should celebrate small victories on the way to accomplishing your goal because that gives you more fuel to complete your mission.

The only suggestions I have here are 1) try not to make your celebrations counter-productive to your goal itself, and 2) ramp up the personal meaning of the celebration(s) as you get closer to fully accomplishing whatever you set out to do.

So, if you’re trying to do something like completely pay off your credit card debt in 2021…

To hit the criteria of the first suggestion: Maybe don’t pay for a new item you really wanted (as a small gift for yourself once you’ve cleared some of your debt) with your credit card. That would only add to your overall debt, and it would be counter-productive to what you’re ultimately trying to do.

To hit the second suggestion’s criteria: If you’re buying yourself things to celebrate as you pay the debt down – buy something small at reducing 25% of your debt; something a little bigger at 50%; and something huge at 100% (all of those things should NOT be purchased with your credit card, of course).


You Can Do It!

I wrote this post with everyone in mind who just wants to kick things up a notch in 2021. Whatever you may be trying to accomplish, so long as it’s legal and not causing harm to anyone – I’m rooting for you.

If you have any goals that you want to publicly proclaim, feel free to do so in the comment section. And If you want an accountability buddy, feel free to kick me an email by clicking the little envelope icon in my “About the Author” section below. Seriously, I’d love to talk goal progression with you throughout the year if you just want an outside party to track along with you.

Encouragement - and image that says Let's Do This.

Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

Image Credits:
– Cover Image © Maridav (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 1 © Aysezgicmeli (Shutterstock)
– Body Image 2 © hidesy (Shutterstock)

– Body Image 3 © Anna Kutukova (Shutterstock)

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Created by Alex Volkov