COVID-19 hampered so many of our plans for 2020 that the promise and potential of a new year feel a bit more special this January 1st. But having a renewed excitement to take control of the things we can control and make real changes in our lives isn’t enough to make 2021 better. As with any other year, the difference between a resolution that falls by the wayside before spring and an accomplished goal is planning. This three-step process will help you channel your enthusiasm into an action plan that will build real, sustainable momentum throughout 2021.
- Review 2020.
The pandemic caused all sorts of personal and professional problems in 2020. But it also revealed issues that had been simmering beneath the surface. A business that was too reliant on a small group of customers or suppliers was bound to run into the red eventually. Spouses who struggled spending extra time at home together might not have discovered that their relationship needed some work until they were driving each other crazy in retirement. Households that hadn’t built up an adequate emergency fund might have faced a cash crunch because of a natural disaster or an accident.
One of the most powerful questions you can ask when analyzing a problem is, “Why?” As you’re reviewing 2020, don’t let your answers be, “Because of COVID-19.” Keep asking “Why?” until you reach the root issues that got between you and your 2020 goals. Until you’ve identified those hurdles, it will be impossible to clear them.
- Turn your resolutions into goals.
No one can “get healthier in the new year.”
What you can do is set a fitness goal, such as, “I am going to jog for thirty minutes every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. ” Then, you can use a calendar, spreadsheet, or productivity app to track those workouts.
Just like asking “Why?” can help you identify problems, asking “How?” can help you fine-tune a vague aspiration into a goal that you can plan to hit. Perhaps working from home has made you rethink your career goals. How are you going to make a change? Your action plan might include items like brushing up your resume, enrolling in an online class that will help you earn a degree, or scheduling a virtual chat with a trusted mentor. Does your stir-crazy family want to hit the road this summer? Step one might be opening a special savings account dedicated to the trip. Step two might be reviewing your monthly budget, economizing, and setting a new monthly savings goal. Keep making those deposits and Step 3 will be packing your bags.
- Stay positive.
Some folks might feel reluctant to set 2021 goals because there’s still so much uncertainty in the world. Others might still be trying to shake off some of the negativity that clouded our experiences as we dealt with 2020’s many challenges.
Setting inspiring goals and building a plan towards hitting them can really turn your mood around. After a year in which we felt like so much was beyond our control, hitting your daily checkmarks and watching those small achievements build towards something big will empower you to keep moving forward.
It’s also important to celebrate smaller milestones that you pass along your journey. Take your spouse out for a nice dinner when you’re halfway to a savings goal. Treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes when you’ve met your exercise goals for one month. Splurge on some WFH upgrades when the company you start has landed its 100th client.
Finally, it’s always good to have a support system in place that will encourage you to stay on track even on the days when you’re falling behind. Your jogging buddy will be there to nudge you off the couch. Your spouse will help you navigate a major career change.
And we’re always here to help you support your goals with comprehensive financial planning. Let’s talk soon about the new transitions you want to plot on your $Lifeline for 2021 and beyond.