December is upon us, and between the frenzy of online shopping, teaching your grandma how to use Zoom, and trying to figure out the best way to stay connected with friends and family over the holidays, you just might find the time to think about how you want 2021 to go.

2020 has probably not gone according to your plans, and it’s not your fault. We have cast aside goals in the interest of merely getting through the day. And whether you’ve suddenly found yourself working from home while your kids are doing Zoom school in the background, or you’re out of a job altogether, no one could have expected what 2020 would bring.

Time during coronavirus season has dragged on in some ways, as each day blends into the next. At the same time, it’s flown. Has it really been nine months since the first lockdown? The days slip by, and unless you’re working towards tangible goals, you may find yourself a bit lost.

The New Year is the perfect time to break out of the rut and think about how you’d like to change your life. So, what do you want out of 2021?

Breaking down goals by topic

New Year’s resolutions often come with the connotation of making up for the previous season’s excesses. Losing weight tops the list of goals people set for themselves, but your health isn’t the only thing to consider.

Think about a few different areas where you’d like to improve. Besides your physical health, what other goals could you set to improve your life in the coming year?

Here’s a list of a few areas you might set a goal in, and examples of what a goal could look like:

  • Career: learning a new skill that will move you closer to where you want to be, obtaining an industry certification, or going back to school
  • Personal development: picking up a new hobby, practicing a new skill regularly, reading non-fiction books
  • Relationships: regular date nights with your spouse, writing letters to friends or family, calling a friend or family member regularly to keep in touch
  • Psychological: making time for regular self-care, massage therapy, group fitness, or counseling
  • Financial: saving a certain amount each month, contributing to a retirement account, paying down debt
  • Spiritual: attending religious services more regularly, spending time reading books focused on emotional and spiritual topics

This is not an exhaustive list of categories, but will help you broaden the scope of setting goals and give you a starting point.

Measuring success

Your goals should be measurable. Instead of saying, “Go on more dates with my spouse,” say, “Plan a date night each month.” Similarly, if your goal is to learn a new language, set a goal of practicing for one hour per week or completing a certain number of lessons per month. At the end of the month, it will be clear if you’ve met your goal.

If you can measure your goal, you’ll be much more likely to succeed.

Tracking progress

Studies show writing things down not only makes you more likely to reach your goals, but also helps you remember the things you’ve written! That’s why you should track progress on your goals. Write your goals and keep a written record throughout the year of how you’re doing.

Each week, take a few minutes and think about progress you’ve made toward your goals. Then write it down! It takes small steps to make a big change, so even if you only had a minor success, it’s worth noting and cheering yourself on. Progress is progress, and you should be proud of yourself. And if you’ve fallen short, it’s ok! Next week you have the chance to try again.

2020 has been an absolute train wreck for many. Who knows what 2021 will hold? You can make positive changes in your life by working towards your goals, even if the world around you is unpredictable.

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Brynn Mahnke is a freelance writer specializing in creating articles while the rest of the world is sleeping. In her real life she is a small business owner, a mother of seven and a mediocre distance runner who enjoys collecting obscure facts about anything. Get in touch with her at brynn.mahnke@gmail.com.