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Money, travel, wellbeing: Four fresh ideas for goal setting in 2021

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Usually, I look forward to the process of setting goals for the new year.

This year is, well, a little different.

My normal goal-setting process would be to plan out my year and reverse engineer my way there—but if there’s anything that 2020 taught me it’s that plans don’t always work out. In fact, the concept of planning out an entire year seems laughable given the current climate.

So, what’s a goal-driven girl to do?

Here are a few ideas for how to approach your 2021 goals from a different perspective.

Set a theme

Goals are specific and measurable, while a theme has a little bit more give.

Setting a theme for the year is a little bit like giving yourself an anchor. It sets your intention and provides a point to guide you when you’re faced with making a decision or taking action on something.

My theme for the year is “grounding”, which for me means setting a strong foundation for my future. It’s a word that encompasses the things that I’d like to focus on this year: spending time with my family, focussing on my physical strength and mental health, growing and strengthening my community, growing my savings and working on my career.

Your theme might be “growth” or “adventure”, “courage”, “communication”, or “boundaries”. The options are endless and with a bit of thought, you can choose a theme that’s really personal and relevant to you and what you’d like to focus on in the year ahead.

Focus on the process rather than the outcome

So often, our goals are outcome-focused: drop a dress size, get a promotion, score a PB in the gym, or go on holiday.

This year, why not shift your attention to the process, as opposed to the outcome?

When you really think about it, it’s often the process that actually matters. Taking losing weight, for example. The way to make sure that you achieve your goal is to take daily action like planning and preparing your meals for the week, tracking your energy intake, reaching your step goal, and making it to the gym.

It’s not the wanting to lose weight that makes it happen, but the process of changing your habits and lifestyle that gets you there.

Focussing on your habits and daily actions is a surefire way to help improve your life and move you in the direction that you’d like to go.

Concentrate on what you can control

After the year that’s been, it’s easy to feel like we’ve totally lost control.

While you might not be able to control travel restrictions, the pandemic, or the state of world politics, there are lots of things that you can control.

For example, I’d love to travel overseas for a belated honeymoon this year—but that’s completely out of my control. What is within my control is my spending habits, which I can modify to boost my savings, meaning that I’m free to travel if and when the opportunity is there.

Given the current job climate, a promotion or career shift might not feel as attainable as it once was. While you can’t control if and when this happens, you can control your professional development and growth. You can look for a mentor, enrol in a course, read books, and work towards making yourself a more appealing candidate.

Feeling powerless makes it tempting to throw in the towel and give up at the first sign of resistance. Taking ownership and working on what’s within your control is more likely to make you feel empowered and motivated over the long term.

Get your mind right

For many people (like myself), 2020 was a year that really shone a light on our mental health and resilience.

Our mental health impacts virtually every other aspect of our lives: our physiology, careers, relationships… all of it.

Improving your mental health takes work. Everyone’s path and approach is different, but it means doing things like seeing a psychologist, journaling, meditating, reading, practising mindfulness, yoga, setting boundaries, opening up to friends and loved ones… the list goes on.

It’s hard work and it takes time and energy, but it’s worth every second.

Even if you feel that you’re in a great mental state, putting in the effort to maintain that is a worthwhile investment.

Setting the goal of working on your mental health is an excellent way to improve your life in 2021 and beyond.

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