Thursday, January 21, 2021

Goal Setting in the Unknown

Each year, I dedicate a full month to dreaming and crafting my goals for the year. 

Last January was no exception. I put my imagination in full swing,
and planned out a year of touring, music-making, healthy habits, and celebrations. 

Each month looked so full of promise and creativity!

But then, Covid…

Spring 2020 hit like a maelstrom.
Goals, plans, imaginings - all wiped off the table and smashed to the ground.

I know you experienced it, too.
The cancelled plans. The deferred dreams. The now unattainable aspirations.

We pushed through, revised our plans, reimagined our dreams. 
Somehow, we made it through the year.

Now, we come to January 2021. Our inner clocks tell us it’s time to reset and restart.

But unlike 2020, when the change of fortune was dramatic and obvious,
2021 brings a new challenge:

We know we’re not back to “Normal" yet, so what, exactly, is 2021?
How do you plan for a year when you literally have no idea what will come next?

If 2020 was a tidal wave, 2021 is a desert.

Unknown sameness for as far as the eye can see...

All month, I’ve struggled to write my annual list of goals. 
It’s not business as usual, but it’s not 2020 either. 
None of us have any idea what could come up next week or next month.

How do we plan for the great unknown?

After weeks of struggling, I took a deep breath, 
and created a few strategies on how to create goals for 2021.

I hope these are helpful for you!

#1. Remember Your Intentions

Goal setting is a means to an end. It’s not about working out every day - it’s about getting healthy. It’s not about vocalizing every day - it’s about becoming a better singer. Keep your intentions first and foremost in your mind and in your heart.

#2. Hold Numbers Loosely

Timelines. Number of pages written. How many steps on your Fitbit.
Despite your best intentions, something unpredictable is going to come up - another lockdown, a change of employment, or even, God forbid, illness. In these moments, give yourself some grace. You’re not going to keep perfect numbers this year. None of us are. And that's okay. Missing one timeline or threshold won’t destroy your goal. Take a breath, take a break, and pick it up again tomorrow.

#3. Prioritize

Which are the very most important goals on your list? Is it to record that new song? Read the Bible in a year? Walk your dog every day? If you can do everything, fantastic! But if life changes or gets stressful, it’s good to know which goal is your most critical. Focus on the most important, until you have the energy to reengage with the less important.

#4. Incorporate Gentleness

Last year, when things really went haywire, I dug deeply into Hygge - the Danish concept of coziness. Since then, I’ve been prioritizing comfort and gentleness in our home. I don’t over schedule a day or a week. I plan an end time for my workday. I limit my social media. I make sure we have lots of options for hot beverages and warm lap blankets. Candles and mini-lights are now standard in all rooms. We’re all dealing with unprecedented levels of emotional stress. We need to consciously and gently care for ourselves and the ones we love.

#5. Plan to Revisit and Revamp

We have no idea what 2021 will bring to our world or to each of our lives. There’s no way a list of goals created in January will be viable throughout this year. So, I’ve planned days to Revisit and Revamp my goals. These are different from my usual first-of-the-month planning. I’ve chosen three days, one approximately every quarter, and have already booked them into my calendar. On these days, I’ll pull out my list of 2021 goals. I’ll check off and celebrate any goals I’ve already accomplished. I’ll remove any that no longer work. I’ll revamp any that can still be accomplished, but in a different way. And I’ll ask the question, “Are there new goals or dreams that have surfaced in this season?” If the answer is “yes,” I’ll find a way to work them into the plan. 

2021 is a mystery, but with flexibility and compassion, we can still do great things!
More than ever, our world needs great things… 

What are your dreams and goals for 2021?
What challenges do you anticipate this year?
Please feel free to share in the comments below…