You Are Not Your ‘To-Do’ List: 7 Ways to Set Inspiring Goals and Stick to Them in 2021

I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions (and let’s face it, we’re in February anyway). But I do believe in new beginnings.


Unfortunately, 2021 didn’t give us this psychological opportunity. With further lockdown restrictions, WFH culture, homeschooling, and planning for a myriad of possible outcomes, it feels more like a continuation of 2020.


So this year I wanted to talk about how we can set goals that create positive change in this new environment, so we can stick to them not just for the month, or the year, but forever.



The Problem with Goals


There are two opposing problems with setting goals. One is that they are not inspiring enough and two they are not simple or SMART enough.


Also, setting meaningful goals requires us to slow down to give our mind space to think through the issues rather than continue on the treadmill of busyness we often get trapped on. Often we rely on one coping strategy or one strength to get us through tough times. But according to my therapist, this is only effective 80% of the time.


What is the one way you repeatedly try to solve your problems?


How is this working out for you now?



Chronic Stress


Creating change during a pandemic adds another layer of complexity. There is fear of uncertainty, health anxiety, our safety is called into question, there’s fewer ways to find experiences like holidays and face-to-face interactions, and all of this now has become chronic. And chronic stress has a detrimental effect on our health.


Throw in social media messages such as if you don’t come out of this quarantine with a new skill … you lacked discipline and it’s a recipe for disaster.


Society putting extra pressure on what you should be achieving right now, versus what your true goals are, comparing ourselves to others, or taking as gospel what our friends, colleagues, parents want from us leads to setting goals that belong to someone else.


True, our brains like acute stress to get motivated, but they don’t like it to persist. It’s a bell curve. It affects motivation, mental agility and even physical health.


After the year we’ve faced, it is an achievement in itself to have made it through to the other side. You don’t have to do anything more right now than take care of yourself and the people around you.


And if you started a side hustle, learnt a new language - that’s fantastic! Let’s find a way to acknowledge and celebrate our achievements - big and small.



Here are my 7 tips for setting your inspiring and SMART goals:



1. Make Your Well-being Top of Your Priorities


Whatever your circumstances - make your well-being and health a priority. Prioritising sleep, exercise, drinking water and eating a well balanced diet is anything but basic. Once you take care of your body, everything will feel easier and lighter. Do you need to learn the hard way that health is the most important thing?