Planning 2021 and Setting the Best Goals

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What are your goals for 2021? Planning 2021 seems like such a weird idea right now after the a** kicking 2020 gave the entire world.

At this point, we don’t know what’s going to happen in 2021 but we must continue to move.

We cannot become stagnant with fear because we’re not sure what 2021 is going to bring.

I usually upload the goal-setting post a few weeks before the New Year but 2020…. Anyway, better late than never.

First of all, these are not New Year’s resolutions.

Hardly anybody sticks to those and they are usually made in a burst of alcohol-induced excitement for the New Year.

These are consciously chosen and actionable goals and they are necessary to keep you going through all this.

How to set and achieve your goals when planning 2021

Planning 2021 Goal Setting Related Content

For 2020, I had a specific set of goals, which I had to adjust due to COVID19 as the year progressed but I still achieved most of the goals on my vision board:-

2020 Goals Recap

  • Location Independence: I finally achieved the ability to work from anywhere I like. Ironically, it occurred in the year we all had to sit our behinds firmly at home. But yeah, yay!
  • Finish a Fiction Project: I completed a full-length work of fiction – Finding Maya. This was a very hard one because staying at home all the time affected my creativity greatly. I talked about that in Writing Life in the Times of Coronavirus
  • Fully Fund TFSA & RRSP: In case you missed it, I relocated to Canada in 2019. This move cost me a significant amount of money and my priority for the rest of 2019 and 2020 was re-upping my emergency fund, savings, and funding my retirement accounts. I doubled down on this in 2020 and all those accounts are fully funded to the max for 2019 and 2020.
  • Launch a Beauty Business: I developed the idea for this back in 2016 but it wasn’t financially feasible due to my location. After moving to North America, it became feasible. I launched it in September and it has been going well so far. I talk about this more on my personal finance focused site – Path to Financial Independence.
  • Read 2 Books a Month: I was on track with this challenge because I used my time on public transport to read and was on book 8 in March when the whole world was grounded. I had aimed to read 24 books in 2020 but only got 12 in.
  • Excellent Credit Score: I didn’t have credit when I moved to Canada which made a lot of things like renting an apartment a bit of a nightmare. I set to that with gusto and ended 2020 with a credit score over 800.

What Didn’t Happen

  • Publishing Contract: I had hoped to edit my book and secure a publishing contract or the services of an agent at least this year but simply couldn’t meet the challenge.
  • Travel: I think this one is obvious. COVID19 + me being a mild to medium germaphobe ensured I spent most of 2020 in the house. I was in the middle of finalizing plans to hightail it to Barbados when everything started and that’s where I’m headed once we can travel with ease again.

These were my major 2020 goals but there were lots of other smaller milestones I reached along the way.

I had to fight through quarantine lethargy and restlessness to achieve these goals so please don’t think it came easy to me.

This imminent lethargy and restlessness is the very reason why planning 2021 goals is important.

Planning 2021 Goal Ideas

So, how do you set goals for yourself while planning 2021 amidst everything the world is going through?

Before you start your goal setting for 2021, take some time to think of 2020. How did you do with your 2020 goals?

What did you achieve? Why didn’t you achieve it? Can you move it to 2021 goals? Or it was an unrealistic goal?

I have shared a planning 2021 goal setting worksheet at the end of this article. You can download it for free and customize it according to your needs.

Don’t get too grand or elaborate with your 2021 goals. Like I said before, no one knows what is going to happen.

Keep the goals bite-sized and achievable but still S.M.A.R.T. SMART goals are:-

Set SMART goals when planning 2021

What About Visualizing Goals When Planning 2021?

I’m all about visualization and believe they help you stick to your goals and achieve them faster.

I know my vision board is part of what helped me fight through quarantine lethargy in 2020. 

I started creating vision boards in 2011 and they have been invaluable in helping me reach my goals year after year. 

They’re the reason I created the Ultimate Vision Board Creation Toolkit

Vision Board Related Content

Don’t care for vision boards? Sure? All right. That’s fine. Instead of a vision board, you can try the following ways to keep track of your goals:-

  • Planning journal like this one.
  • Create a list of your goals and stick it in your home office/bedroom or as a background on your phone. The goal setting worksheet at the end includes a goal listing sheet as well.

What Are Some Good Goals to Put on Your List?

  • Achieving financial independence by paying off a specific amount of debt. This could be credit cards, student loans, personal loans, a mortgage, a car note, etc.
  • Fund your emergency fund, savings account, retirement accounts with certain amounts. If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s the importance of having a very healthy emergency fund and savings account.
  • Start a side hustleanother thing 2020 taught us is the importance of multiple sources of income
  • Donate to charity if you can.
  • Learn something new. You are never too old to learn something new. You don’t have to go into debt to do it either. You can upskill easily via places like Udemy and Coursera for as little as $20.
  • Create and stick to a budget – Easy Guide to Money Management is a great and free tool to help you get started with this goal.
  • Finish the pending things from 2020. Just because you didn’t achieve them doesn’t mean you get to set them aside. Move it forward to 2021 after addressing what prevented you from achieving this goal in 2020.
  • Workout more and get into shape. Working out is one of the things that kept me sane in 2020 and I started chronicling this on Fitness At Every Age.
  • Drink all the water. Are you thinking why would I drink more water as a goal? Dehydration is a major cause of fatigue and you don’t need that right now. Make it a goal to drink at least 10 glasses of water every day. This is not an easy task. For more on how to get as much water as possible into your daily diet, read How Water Helps With Weight Loss.
  • Career goals – Get a promotion, a raise, change departments or jobs, or make yourself even more indispensable in 2021 while still working from home and staying safe.
  • Grow your business – a lot of people launched a business in 2020 after losing their jobs and learned a lot along the way. If you’re one of those people, make 2021 the year you grow that business and reach new customers.
  • Improve family relationships.
  • Read more books – fiction, non-fiction, etc.
  • Don’t ignore sleep. Why would this be a goal? Your mind cannot function at optimal levels if you’re sleep-deprived. I talked about how my productivity shot up after I started sleeping all the time in Why Sleeping Could Be the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You.
  • Declutter your home and life. A decluttered home and life = a decluttered mind that can focus and create. You can do it one room at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed. 
  • Pay more attention to self-care. This is more important than ever. Take care of yourself as much as you can.
  • Travel more. We don’t know if we’ll be able to travel freely in 2021 but no reason why you shouldn’t set it as a goal in the meantime.

Now each of the goal suggestions above might look massive. That’s where using the S.M.A.R.T system to set these goals is important.

Break each goal into bite-sized portions and track them via the milestones and check-ins to yourself or your accountability partner at the end of every month.

How to Breakdown Goals

Below are some examples of how you breakdown goals so they don’t overwhelm you when you look at the big picture.

Paying Off Credit Card Debt in 2021

For example, financial freedom via paying down credit card debt. What’s your credit card debt? Let’s say $6,000.

That number sounds scary so you break it down into a manageable and achievable number.

Maybe you want to pay it off by the end of the year. That’s $6,000/12 = $500. You have to make $500 payments to the card every month to clear it off by the end of the year.

If you can pay more than you’ve targeted and don’t need it for anything else, go ahead and pay it.

Learning Something New in 2021

Ok, you’ve decided you want to learn something new in a subject such as advanced excel skills.

Head over to Udemy or Coursera to check out options. You can get started with as little as $20 or less for courses.

Decide you will finish a course module/week studying 2 – 3 hours every evening. This is a specific and achievable goal within a goal.

Side hustles to think about when planning 2021

Start a Side Hustle

What skills do you have that you can monetize? Do you want to learn something else that you can monetize?

To brainstorm possible side hustles and decide is this is for you, have a look at:-

Self care isn't selfish

Read More Books

Decide how many books you want to read per week/month or for the year. Do you have those books already or you need to buy them?

Want some ideas on what makes good reading? Check out the current bestseller categories HERE.

If you prefer to listen to books instead, then sign up for Audible 40% off+ 1 free book every month and start listening.

40% off Audible plus free trial

Pay Attention to Self-care

This can be as small as meditating every evening, drinking more water, or having your alone time every day.

You can also indulge in a self-care subscription, which delivers monthly goodies just for you to take care of yourself.

When you take care of yourself, your productivity and creativity are maximized. You will be centered and better able to handle the stress of quarantine.

As you can see, it’s a long list of things you can add to your goals in life list for 2021.

Why Use a Goal Setting Worksheet?

Keeps You Focused

A goal-setting worksheet keeps you focused on the big picture while paying attention to the little details required to get there.

Gives You Direction

A goal setting worksheet gives you direction so you’re not winging it as you go along. Winging it is the fastest way to fail at achieving a goal.

With a goal setting worksheet, you can aim for a goal properly and plan accordingly.

Keeps You Motivated

A goal setting worksheet in combination with a vision board keeps you motivated. You have something you’re aspiring to and looking forward to.

Amidst the endless lockdowns and quarantine, this is something you need in your life. A reason to stay motivated.

A goal setting worksheet is one of those ways.

Are you super excited to get started? Go ahead and download the goal setting worksheet below. 

2021 Goal Setting Worksheet

Planning 2021 Goal Setting Worksheet Free PDF

This goal setting worksheet will ensure you don’t become overwhelmed and can keep track of your goals throughout the year.

The worksheet also includes personal planners you can every day or every week.

You can carry out goal setting at any point in the year. It doesn’t have to occur exactly on January 1 of the year.


Happy New Year and make 2021 amazing.

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