2020 is finally (and thankfully!) in our rear view and we have a whole new squeaky-clean year ahead of us once again.  Who would have thought, as we sat down a year ago to put our new year’s plans on paper, that we would have had the year we did?  Not in our wildest dreams.  However, it’s a testament to the human condition to how resilient we all have been, how people were able to pivot, adjust and adapt and make it through one of the worst years ever.  Some better than others of course but here we are, ready to push on to 2021 with a vengeance.

At this time of year, we usually sit down to put goals on paper, striving for even better results.  But some are probably thinking, with all this uncertainty still, what’s the point of setting goals when we really don’t know how things will go this year? Last year’s plans sure didn’t amount to much.

And while we may have gotten thoroughly beat up this last year, we have learned a lot and have a lot to catch up on. I believe that life is too short to waste any time, and while we are still surrounded by ambiguity you always can focus on those things that you alone can control.  While that may seem counterintuitive, it’s really true.  You control your responses to whatever is thrown at you and you control (for the most part), your day-to-day activities, how you spend your time, what you think about, what you eat and drink etc. – only you.

You also know that when you set your attention on things you want, you are more likely to move in that direction.  Specific, measurable goals, written down, help create an awareness that focuses the brain and chances of success are much more possible.  It’s been proven time and time again that it really does work. It’s time to take back your control and start making plans for a better 2021.  And we can use all we’ve learned this year to do a better job of it.

I went on a walk recently and typically I go on a certain route, in one direction on the same streets, up and down hills, a familiar path.  Today for some reason, I went in exactly the opposite direction, same streets, same up and downs. It was a totally unfamiliar path.  I am amazed at how different the roads looked, the same houses and gardens, seen in reverse. A totally different perspective and a totally new experience.

So I think it’s time to get a new experience and a totally different perspective – what if we looked at our goal setting in reverse this year?  Time travel to the end of 2021 and visualize what success at New Year’s Eve looks like.  What would have had to happen all year to make 2021 your best year ever?  Once you have the end figured out, move forward to November and visualize what had happened to this point and what was left to do.  Move back to October and figure out the same thing.  Think about what has had to happen to get you to each point in time. Then keep moving backwards month to month to see what has been accomplished and what needs to happen next. And write down those action steps. Keep it simple, high level but in your plan, you want goals for your professional life, personal life/health plus a financial goal. No doubting or saying, “this is never going to happen”. Use this different perspective to work backwards until you end up here again at the beginning. What do you need to put in place today so that on Dec 31, 2021 you will have had the best year ever?  Here are some questions to help you with that picture:

  1. What are the most important things you’ve learned both professionally & personally during the pandemic?
  2. How can you take that learning to the next level and what else do you need to learn?
  3. What are you good at that you can leverage to get what you want this year?
  4. What is the greatest challenge you will have to face in 2021 to make the year successful?
  5. What ‘new normal’ are you going to create?
  6. What do you regret not doing last year that you have control over?
  7. What are the daily, weekly & monthly activities that will give you that success at the end of 2021?
  8. How can you measure and monitor your progress so you stay on track?
  9. Who can help you with sticking to your plan and what other help do you need?

Having a strong vision of the outcomes of this next year will help you focus your efforts to create it, and will help keep you going when you really don’t want to. You’ve heard the definition of commitment before:
Doing the thing, you said you were going to do, long after the mood you said it in, has left you.

We’ve been through an incredibly hard year, but again, life’s too short to waste any time. We have an opportunity to set a new plan and dream even bigger than before.  Instead of sitting down and looking out at the year in front of you, take a different perspective – travel forward in time, look back and create what will be your best year ever.