How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year | Rhyme & Reason
How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year | Rhyme & Reason

How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year

Charleston, South Carolina
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It’s that time of year again where we all take stock of the previous year and consider goals and resolutions for the new year. I thought it would be nice to write a post on how to set realistic goals for the new year and to share my goals for 2021. This time last year, I was coming off of the hardest year of my life to date. Edwin and I were living in serious limbo, I lost my last living grandparent, and I struggled immensely with the loss from our first pregnancy ending in a miscarriage. As such, I didn’t really make resolutions for 2020 so I didn’t write a blog post on them. Rather, I wrote a post on the lessons I learned in 2019 and how those lessons learned were carrying me into 2020.

I hadn’t yet shared our miscarriage on my blog but, in reading what I wrote in early January 2020, I am reminded of just how much I was struggling as well as just how hopeful I was (it’s pretty clear from the opening paragraph). I woke up on January 1st, 2020 filled with a tremendous amount of optimism and hope for the year ahead! In many respects, that optimism was about our yearning to start a family and we were incredibly fortunate to have that dream come true as we found out later that month that we were pregnant with our little Rowan love. Other than our pregnancy joy, the extreme optimism that I felt for 2020 on January 1st is quite funny now that we all know how 2020 turned out. The year became so very different than anything beyond my wildest imagination.

How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year

So, how do I feel about 2020 ending and 2021 beginning? Pretty great! I admit that I do not share the common “good riddance 2020” mentality that many people rightfully have. It honestly would be impossible for me to because 2020 is the year that I became a mother and the year that we grew our family. As such, it will forever be a special year for us. However, I am most certainly ready for a fresh start that comes with a new year and ready to live in a world full of a bit more joy than was felt in 2020, ready for more financial and work certainty for our family, and ready for everyone to feel safe and healthy when walking out their front door so life as we once knew it can resume. Hopefully 2021 will have this all in store!

There are benefits to setting realistic goals for the new year. After taking 2020 off from creating real new years goals or resolutions, I’m excited to start 2021 off with a few goals in mind. Goals for the new year can provide direction, give a sense of fulfillment, motivate in the face of setbacks, and create a roadmap for the year ahead. Last year, I brought lessons from the previous year with me into the new year. This year, I’m setting realistic goals for myself. Both strategies are a bit different than New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are firm decisions to do or not do something whereas a goal is something toward which you direct ambition, motivation, or effort. Goals feel more like something or an achievement to work towards, which I like a bit more. What do you think? Are you for making New Years resolutions or setting realistic goals?

How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year | Rhyme & Reason
How To Set Realistic Goals For The New Year | Rhyme & Reason


Put Pen to Paper

I spend a lot of time with my thoughts these days without any free hands (aka when I’m feeding, burping, and changing Rowan) to actually put pen to paper. I’ve thought about a lot of goals to set for myself this year but then, when I get up to move on to the next part of my day, my mind goes elsewhere and I don’t actually get my goals solidified enough to reflect on them and start working toward them. So, taking time during one of Rowan’s naps to put pen to paper was the first way I’ve taken a stab at my efforts to set goals for 2021.

Try the SMART Method

SMART goals are measurable goals that follow the SMART acronym: S for specific, M for measurable, A for achievable, R for relevant, and T for time bound. I have a girlfriend who uses the SMART method when creating her annual business plans and she swears by it. You can google the method for a super in-depth description of how to adapt it to your goal setting.

Avoid Comparisons

Comparison is the thief of joy. My oh my is this true. I’ve felt this more than ever since becoming a mother as I wonder how other moms are able to get so much done in a day. I remind myself constantly that they might have part time or full time help/care for their children or that their kids are in school. So they have more hours in the day to get things done. I cherish my undivided time with Rowan right now but that doesn’t mean that it is difficult some days. I have found that if I don’t compare my day, time, work output, or household output to others, then I’m A LOT happier with myself and how my day or week went. So, I’m avoiding comparisons with the goals I’m setting because you truly never know what someone else’s circumstances are.

Embrace Failures

Yes, yes, yes embrace failures! A failure means you tried so keep putting forth effort toward your goal. With each failure, you’re one step closer to reaching your goals.

Identify Barriers

Take a moment to reflect on your big goals and smaller goals in order to identify barriers that may stop you from achieving your goals. This will help you keep your goals within reason and help you set realistic goals.

Find an Accountability Partner

An accountability partner sounds serious but it can actually be fun! If your goals for 2021 lineup with the goals of a family member or friend, you can achieve your goals together by keeping each other on track. This is the same as the concept of signing up for a workout class with a friend in order to ensure that you go to the class. You can make plans to checkin on each other after set periods of time and encourage each other for either short term or long term goals.

Realistic Goals To Set For Yourself

Health Goals

Health goals don’t have to equal weight loss goals. There are so many ways to think about health. Here are a few ideas for realistic health goals to set for yourself that can help you live your healthiest life: start a vitamin routine, get a annual skin cancer check at the dermatologist, schedule bi annual teeth cleanings at the dentist, visit a hormone specialist, get a mammogram, take care of old injuries with acupuncture or another method, find a therapist, create a meditation practice, incorporate walking into your daily routine, increase your vegetable intake, book a facial, etc.

Financial Goals

I think we’re all considering our financial goals for 2021 in a different light after businesses took such a hit in 2020. I think it’s wonderful to set specific measurable financial goals on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. However, if 2020 taught us anything, I think perhaps the smartest financial goals to consider making this year aren’t goals for annual income but instead goals for creating rainy day funds and retirement plans.

If you can set goals to save for a worst case scenario (ex: like lost income during a global pandemic), then you can be confident in your finances without living paycheck to paycheck. You will also only thank yourself later for the work you do now to prepare for your financial future and retirement. Set a realistic financial goal this year that you’ve maybe been putting off for awhile like to meet with a financial planner, address your ant expenses, or set up retirement plans like 401ks and IRAs.

Professional Goals

In my post last year on the lessons I learned in 2019, I shared one lesson I learned to be that the best day to start something is today. This goes hand-in-hand with setting smart professional goals as well as personal goals. 2020 taught us that life as we know it can change virtually overnight so make sure you’re living the life you want to be living. Realistic professional goals can be both small and big. A few ideas include: refresh your resume and LinkedIn, build a folder of testimonials and references, present a case to your boss for a salary increase, take continuing ed classes, get certified in a side interest you love (ex: yoga or nutrition), apply for a new job, take more initiative on a project or team at work, etc.

Personal Goals

Personal goals can really run the gamut depending on where you are in life. A few ideas are to move, create a concise at-home filing system, clean out your email, get together with one knew person a month (when you feel safe doing so), pursue a hobby/interest/curiosity, stay connected with your extended family, get a pet, etc.

My Realistic Goals for 2021

Be the Best Mother I Can Be to Rowan

Everyday I want to wake up and be the best mama I can be to my sweet boy. He will forever be my rainbow baby and I’m so grateful for him every waking minute of every day. I want to get out of bed each morning and be the best mother I can be to Rowan. In all honesty, even if I’m tired in the morning, this is pretty easy for me because I seriously love nothing more than the first moment of each day I get to see Rowan’s face. It is maybe my favorite moment of the day.

I also love our quiet, tender, snuggly time in the early morning during his first feeding and awake time session. It is the afternoon, when the whole day has set in and I’m tired that I have to give myself a little reminder to always be the best mother I can be. That’s my hardest time of the day (I often go on a walk with Rowan at this time of day to combat this).

Improve my Communication with Friends and Family

Since having Rowan, I feel like I’m constantly saying to people “I owe you a call back,” “I’m so sorry I didn’t respond before,” or “I’m so sorry I’ve been awful with my phone lately.” Well, lots of people have kids and everyone is busy so I don’t like the crutch of having a baby as a constant excuse. I’m not saying I want to be on my phone more; rather, I’d love to use the time I’m on my phone for the better to improve my communication with family and friends. I want to be the same me as I was before having a baby and that means being there for my loved ones and being a responsive, engaged friend and family member.

Get Back to my Pre-Pregnancy Weight

I have had health related goals before but this will actually be the first time I’ve ever made a weight related goal. It’s pretty simple, I’d like to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I feel great and am healthy at that weight so I’d like to return there. I also would love to not buy a full new wardrobe in my current size, ha! And I really enjoy exercising so this is a goal that I’m not just motivated by but a goal that I also think is fun to accomplish.

Post on Rhyme & Reason Twice a Week

Would I like to be posting on here 6 times a week (Mon-Fri + Sunday)? Absolutely! Admittedly, I am having a really really hard time coping with how much I want to be working and blogging versus how much I actually can work and blog right now with Rowan. We don’t have any set, steady childcare other than me so I am all hands on deck 24/7 (with the help of Edwin when he is available). I simply don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like right now.

“Realistic” is the key word for me here with this goal. If I said my goal was to be posting Monday – Friday on Rhyme and Reason, then I know I’d be disappointed and let down every single week. So, my more realistic goal is to post on Rhyme & Reason twice a week. If I have weeks where I am able to post more frequently, fantastic! Otherwise, hopefully I can hit my twice a week goal and feel good about it.

Foster a Community and Relationships with You, My Readers

This past year, I feel like I’ve connected with so many of you so much more. I think a lot of it stems from my pregnancy as so many of you reached out to talk about being pregnant, having a miscarriage, having a breech baby, or being a mom. I’m so grateful to each one of you who sent me a thoughtful DM or email about any of those topics or anything else. I put a lot of time into responding to y’all and I hope it shows. Connecting with you is one of my favorite parts about blogging and Instagramming. Y’all are a wonderful group of people and I feel so lucky to “know” you in a sense.

When in doubt, reach out to me because I’d love to connect and say thank you for following me! In 2021, I have the goal of creating more ways that we can connect and the goal of fostering my community with you! If you have any ideas of how to do this, I’m all ears!

Find Something Else For Me

Right now, my free time is extremely limited. I pretty much use it to exercise, shower, eat, and hopefully see family and friends. When I’m working, it feels like a gift because it makes me feel like a version of myself that isn’t exclusively a mom. However, I’d like to find something else this year for me. I haven’t quite decided what that might be. It might be in the form of work or it might be in the form of hobbies.

Currently, I’d love to pick back up two things I did regularly before having Rowan: reading and needlepointing. Both are things I love that have sadly fallen by the wayside the last few months. Now that I’ve come out of the extreme exhaustion of the 4th trimester, I’m ready to add these two things back to my life. So, as far as realistic goals go, I’m starting here for the start of the year with the hope of finding something else for me as the year progresses.

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  1. There is so much wisdom and great advice packed into this entry! Thank you so much Jillian for finding the time to so eloquently express these super helpful ideas. I know this is a post I will be rereading often.

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