Goals? After the year we just had?
So you set goals for 2020, and the year didn’t care if you had a plan? Well, you most definitely are not alone! Like many people experienced in 2020, goals not only became irrelevant, they were even unreachable given the pandemic, and new, more pertinent challenges were arising every day. In this post, I want to discuss ways to make 2021 still your year, even if you have not set any goals yet. We will break down a goal that seems unimaginable with where you are right now and set aside bite-sized pieces.
Like many others in 2020, I sat down in the winter of 2019, and the world was going to be mine. I was going to uncover infinite accomplishments in 2020. As some of you may or may not know, I am an inpatient nurse at a level 1 trauma hospital. I was not immune to the challenges of 2020, but I am grateful for many things nonetheless. I, too, experienced hardships, happiness, fear, and frustration on a seemingly constant loop. Fast forward a few weeks into 2021, and I am faced with the loss of a family member. It has seemed like the world does not want to catch anyone a break right now. I want you to know that you are not alone.
I have been given hope by many of my patients with more challenging experiences in 2020 and 2021 than I have, and continue to have a positive attitude and appreciate the life they have to live. I once had a patient that was deteriorating, and they were well aware of the situation unfolding. I was working hard against many obstacles all through the night. The room bustled with people and even a crowd discussing care options long into the night, running tests, and evaluating the patient. The patient never complained. They never once said they were in pain, were tired, or that they wanted anything from me at all. When it was all said and done, I sat down with my patient and said, "You are really tough. You know that?" The patient looked at me and said, "you gotta be, or the world will eat you up." I have carried that with me through many of the ups and downs of the past year. We have to be tough, or life will just happen to us. So I challenge you to take back your goals and have a say in the year ahead!
I will be 100% honest with each of you and say that I did not set goals at the beginning of this year for the first time since this blog was born. I did not even reflect on the goals I set last year. I let last year kick my ass and laugh. I have decided that I will no longer be ok with that. If you have already set goals for 2021, I challenge you to add a few after reading this post, and for those of you that have said this year is a wash too, I challenge you to get started with me and make this your year!
I have preached "SMART" (Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic and Time Specific) goals since the first days of this blog, and I am now going to tell you that 2021 will likely not care how much thought you put into your goal statement, so we need to be tougher.
We will start by focusing on a significant goal you have that you want to have accomplished by the end of this year. We will start from this goal and work backward while creating plans to achieve in chronological order. That could be getting into an academic program or institution, landing your dream job, or even something as obscure as being happy. For example: by the end of this year, I want to produce more consistent content for my blog and continue to grow in my abilities to reach others positively. Whatever that goal is, write that at the bottom of a blank sheet of paper.
Whatever your end goal is that you have in mind, keep that at your forefront as we continue to develop plans. I want you to now think of what you picture success or progress towards that goal by summer. For me, success looks like seeing products selling in my online store and regular content, at least biweekly.
In the middle of your goals paper, write: success will look like _______ (fill in what you think success would look like at this stage).
You will see a significant amount of space between your middle of the road goal and your finish line. Leave it blank. Yup. We can't plan for everything, and this allows you to be adaptive with your progress because, as we know, life does not always care about your goals. Over the summer, you may have to work on some of the smaller goals before moving forward when evaluating your progress before moving forward or you might even be ahead of what you expected. At that point, you will make the smaller day to day goals like we are about to in the rest of this post to continue working towards your vision.
Starting from now, write down 4-5 large milestones to accomplish before getting to the middle of the road goal. After you have identified these, write those goals for each month. One of my first milestones is going to be to increase the frequency of my postings. Write out all your months and their corresponding big picture goal. Having this sheet somewhere you reference is going to be vital to keeping your eye on the price. As you plan out your month with your reference sheet, you will continue to dissect these goals. Instead of being daunted by the time it takes to complete and post my content, I can say my task on Monday is to pick a topic. Once you achieve your small goal, cross it off the list and keep moving forward. If you catch yourself getting overwhelmed by these larger goals, just keep breaking it down into bite sized pieces you can accomplish in the time you have available to you.
When you return to your goals reference sheet, continue to break things off into those smaller pieces for the second half of the year. So on and so forth. As we learned last year, the world is unpredictable at best, so do not beat yourself up if you miss a smaller goal; keep working towards it and adjust your timeline. If you keep moving past that unaccomplished to do or check-in, you will feel it looming over you, and it may even hinder your progress. These goals do NOT have to be super specific! When looking at our more extensive long term goals, they can be incredibly daunting because they are so far away, and countless things must be accomplished before getting to the finish line. By breaking these goals down, you can continue to move forward without the unstructured stress of only seeing the finish line. Take your goals one step at a time, one sentence at a time, one day at a time, and the progress will create the magic of a marathon that you will accomplish.
Now, you might be surprised that this is not a fitness-related goal. Fitness is still essential to me, and I have been humbled by being a beginner again since I have had to stop working out for about 3 months since having COVID. The truth about fitness goals is that there is no finish line. There is no final destination. My fitness journey aims to feel good, strong, and accomplished every day, not just until the program is over or for a goal, but for me. I will now walk you through what my fitness goals look like considering this.
Take a deep breath. Your goals are big but so are your dreams. I know you are prepared to work hard, so keep your head up. It will be worth it!
Stay beautiful and stay healthy!