2021 Goals that Stick

Most people can agree that goals are important.  They are an essential part of company strategy and the performance review cycle.  There’s good reason too.  People that have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals.  However, setting goals doesn’t make them as good as done.  70% of people fail to achieve their goals.  Without understanding what it takes to achieve your goal, your goal can collect dust like a failed new year’s resolution instead of creating the lasting change you are capable of.

Here are 3 goal setting strategies that will help set 2021 up for success.

1. Get Clear on the Why

We often set goals that we think we should instead of the goals we really want.  Instead of creating goals your boss wants for you or you think you should do to get ahead, spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve.  Is it status, promotion, more work/life balance, improved communication skills? Where are your pain points? What would make a big difference for you? Ask yourself why this goal is important to you. What would it mean for you (and your family) to achieve it? What will happen if you don’t achieve the goal?  Spending some time understanding why the goal is important and crafting your compelling reasons for it will help you not only achieve something that will have a greater impact but will help you stick with it.

2. The Goldilocks Approach

You want the right amount of goals and the right scope.  Too many goals will cause overwhelm and little progress.  A goal that is too far out of reach or too easy will either seem impossible or not be impactful enough to help you move the needle.  I suggest having no more than 2-3 goals.  Think about it. If you take 10 steps in 10 different directions you won’t make enough progress to make a difference.  Now imagine taking 10 steps in less than 3 directions.  You will have more wins and that will help you make progress and stick with it. Your scope should be a stretch. It should be realistic, but something that makes you feel energized and excited but also a bit scared. If you’re not a bit uncomfortable, it’s time to think bigger.

3. Expect Resistance & Plan for It

Change can be hard. Expect resistance to come in the form of limited time, resources, lack of support, and you.  You are one of your biggest obstacles because your brain only knows what you’ve done in the past and when things get hard it is a common response to convince yourself you don’t need the goal, or it will be ok if you don’t achieve it. 

You have to believe in a possibility you haven’t created yet. Brainstorm all of the obstacles that could come up as you work toward your goals. Now develop a strategy for each of those obstacles.  What will you do when you want to quit? What will you do when you have to work late and can’t do what you planned? What will you do if your boss doesn’t support your growth?  Create unwavering commitment to your goals.

Practicing these strategies will help you create your best year yet.

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Melissa Lawrence is a Career Coach and host of the "Navigating Your Career" podcast. In her practice she helps people in STEM careers figure out their next career move and overcome workplace challenges that have them feeling stuck. Learn more at www.melissamlawrence.com.