Some people make New Year’s Resolutions, others set Goals. I like to choose my Priorities instead.
There is something different about Priorities.
When people make resolutions, they don’t plan. They get a fresh start and dive head first into their resolutions. They are full of energy, of inspiration. They go strong until the first bump on the road, and then the resolutions go out the window. They weren’t prepared for a bumpy road, they didn’t think it through. They didn’t make a plan of action should they fall off track.
When people set goals, it’s different. Goals usually involve a little more proactiveness. To make a goal work, you need a plan. If you are familiar with goal setting, then you probably know how to set goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). If you can set SMART goals and drive them to completion, there shouldn’t be any problem with setting goals for 2021.
However, there is one thing about goals I do not like – they generally lack urgency. They feel more as a far-away destination you wish to eventually arrive at. And while there is nothing particularly wrong with a long-term goal, they just tend to move further and further away from now as the time goes and you’re no closer to the target because there is no urgency or you’ve got other priorities.
Priorities, on the other hand, have this one connotation that helps distinguish it from a goal. You prioritise things on the basis of importance. And even though having a timeline for your goals is important, the sense of priority acts on your brain in a different way, making you act now.
If you can choose your priorities and build your goals around them, then it’s a win-win situation. But it is getting clear on your priorities that will help you achieve your goals in the long run.
So here we go.
HOW TO SET YOURSELF FOR A BETTER 2021
Life isn’t about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.George Bernard Shaw
Step 3: Priorities
How do you get about choosing your priorities? How do you decide what you need to prioritise? The next few steps should help you get clarity on what your priorities are.
Look at your Reflections
Pull that list from Step 1 and look at your reflections. Is there anything in particular that did not work out the way you wanted it to? Have you analysed your actions in relation to that goal and established what you could have done differently? Take notes of what you have identified.
From my own example, I had times where I would be posting to blog or Instagram almost non-stop when I got inspiration, but then it would leave me or I would get such a workload that I couldn’t find a moment to spare. Instead of focusing that energy and inspiration to get the posts out there, I would rather concentrate it now on planning my posts more and then schedule them. Writing and posting ‘in the moment’ feels amazing, but it doesn’t protect me from highs and lows of everyday life.
At the same time, I have done really well practicing my Spanish every day. Why? Initially I just started doing different challenges to earn awards on the app, and then I just continued doing it for the streak. When I have been doing it continuously for over 250 days, it feels silly to give up. So I just made daily Spanish one of my priorities. I have reminders set up and I make sure I do it day in and day out. And even though Spanish was quite a success for me in 2020, I want to keep practicing in 2021 too. Except that I don’t need to change the strategy. I already know what works.
Look at you Gratitude list
Take your list from the Step 2 and have another look. Was there anything special that you would like to keep in 2021?
For example, I was grateful for all the time I got to spend with my family and working on my personal goals. This simple entry on my gratitude list made me realise how much my family and personal development slipped away from me in the last year preceding the pandemic, and this is not how I would like things to carry on. So better time management is going to be my priority for 2021, so I can free up space for my family and personal goals .
Choose what to Keep and what to Let Go of
As discouraging as it may sound, you cannot do everything. You might have tried and not succeeded. It could be the case that you just need to try harder. Or it could well be the case that you need to let it go. How do you know which one it should be?
Ask yourself two (not so) simple questions:
- Why am I doing?
- How does it make me feel?
Try being as honest as you can – at the end of the day if you’re fooling anyone, you’re only fooling yourself.
If your ‘why’ is strong and it makes you feel really good, try harder.
If it makes you feel good but the ‘why’ is not so strong, it may not be the time yet. You can park this commitment and pick it up again later when you feel ready. In the worst case, you can do it when you really feel like it – if there is no real need to keep doing it otherwise.
If there is no clear ‘why’ and doing it does not lift you up, don’t waste your time and energy – let it go. If it doesn’t serve you, there is no need to keep it.
Choose your Priorities
Now when you’re clear on what you want to keep in your life, prioritise these. Make a list of your priorities, formulate your strong Why’s and make a plan. However, be realistic and don’t choose too many priorities. Start with 2 or 3, maximum 5 if you are disciplined. But do not overwhelm yourself with too many. If your list of priorities is rather lengthy, rethink it – you may not be perfectly honest with yourself.
Set SMART goals for each priority if you like, break them into little steps and set timelines. Don’t make them complicated: remember that they must be realistic and achievable. Small steps are always better than huge leaps. But if it is truly your priority, it will work out in the end. Things only work out when you really, truly want them to.
A little tip for making goals work
You might have heard this before, but this is one of the best advice I have ever heard. Visualise your goals, step by step. If you have that clarity, if you can see it being achieved, then you know exactly what to do and you will achieve it. Visualise and believe in your potential.