Setting Goals for the New Year: Make 2021 Your Best Yet

Setting Goals For The New Year

The entire world has already set a goal for 2021: recover from 2020. We’re exhausted, so it’s tempting to view this coming year primarily as a time to “get back to normal.”

But “getting back to normal” isn’t progress. When the world knocks you back one step, there’s an opportunity to wake up and take two steps forward. Don’t allow the pain of the pandemic to drown the dreams you had before quarantine began.

No matter what is happening in the world, setting goals for the new year is a timeless practice that encourages meditation and self-discovery. Our advice will respect your recovery, but it will also help you push yourself harder than before.

Closure on 2020

You won’t get far in 2021 if 2020 is still dragging you down. Before setting goals for the new year, try to find closure with the old year.

Did you set goals at the beginning of 2020 or the end of 2019? It might be tough to remember. The pandemic has warped our sense of time, so a year ago may feel like many years ago. Nonetheless, think back as much as you can. 

Which of these goals did you meet? Which were not achieved? Why not? Asking and answering these types of questions will allow you to gain insight for next year. Also, clarity about why you didn’t complete something you wanted allows you to let it go. Letting go at the end of the year is important because it’s hard to reach for a new outcome if you’re still holding on to an old one. 

Even if you didn’t set any goals, reflect on what you’ve accomplished. Make a list of 100 things you were grateful for or appreciate that year. If you’re in a situation that is making it difficult to think of anything to be grateful for, remind yourself of this simple fact: You are alive. Unlike millions of people in the world, you survived a plague and have a chance to reinvigorate your life.

To formalize the process of closure, set a date or activity where you celebrate everything positive about the past year. Say goodbye to it.

There are many cultures and religions that practice this celebration. In the Japanese Buddhist tradition, “Joya no Kane,” practitioners ring a large bell 108 times. This number is a reference to the 108 worldly desires mentioned in certain schools of Buddhism. 

How Do I Identify My Goals?

The bestselling book, “Designing Your Life,” explores four areas of life: love, play, work and health. Is there an area you want to prioritize? Meditate on what is missing in your life or what has fallen short.

Another method is to choose a theme word. If you want to save money in 2021, try a word like prosperity, wealth or savings. For those who enjoy visual projects, make a word cloud and place it prominently in your home. This word will set the spiritual tone for your entire year, so you should be comfortable seeing it constantly.

How Do I Set Meaningful Goals?

Motivation will determine meaning. Think about what life would be like if you achieved your goal in the ideal timeline. How does that vision make you feel? If the emotion is strong, it’s likely that the goal is meaningful to you.

Be ambitious. The most meaningful goals are often the ones that challenge you.

SMART is a popular framework for these goals. In case you’re not familiar with the acronym, here’s the breakdown:

  • Specific — What are the details of your goal? “Become a better person,” for example, is way too vague. On the other hand, “Write a 50,000-word book” is specific.
  • Measurable — How do you know if you’re close or far from your goal? If possible, pick a goal that can be tied to numbers and increments.
  • Achievable — We want you to be ambitious, but the goal should be something you’re physically capable of. If you pick something impossible, you’ll only feel discouraged when you inevitably fall short. Then you’ll have to spend more valuable time adjusting the goal or deciding on something new.
  • Relevant — If you have multiple big goals, ruminate on whether they complement each other. Goals should support an overall vision of the ideal life and self.
  • Time-bound — What is your deadline for completing the goals? Is it the end of the new year? Or do you want different deadlines depending on the goal?

Don’t set too many goals. If you have more than a dozen in mind, narrow them down to the most meaningful. This lower number will play into the SMART framework by making the goals easier to measure and achieve.

How Do I Achieve My Goals?

To increase the chance of achieving these goals, identify obstacles. Then make plans for overcoming these obstacles. If you’re trying to lose weight — a popular new year’s resolution — what are the foods that set you back the most? How can you develop the discipline to avoid these foods?

In addition to the SMART framework, create mechanisms to keep you accountable and ensure you succeed. Some of the things you might do to keep yourself accountable are to set goals with your partner or a friend. Set goals together and agree to keep each other accountable. You might even schedule check-in times—weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Also, write down your goals and read them aloud to someone. Studies show that speaking your intention to do something greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll actually do it. 

And if you’re serious about your goals, you can invest in a life coach. This professional will meet with you regularly and help you flesh out a vision, and a strategy for realizing your vision. 

A Life Coach is specially trained to help you clarify your vision and keep you out of the deadly world of generalization. Knowing what you want and why you want it with tremendous detail greatly increases your likelihood of realizing your vision, as does having some accountability. 

Once you know what you want, you can put it into a timeline and develop a strategy for making it happen. But more important than any of these steps is to make sure that what you want to achieve truly comes from you—from within. 

One last thing to keep in mind: 

It’s often the case that as you become more and more clear on your goals, they tend to change slightly. This is ok. But always make sure that the change is closer to what you actually want rather than what you think you should want. It’s better to avoid “should” when dreaming of what you want to make of your life. However, once you clarify your vision, you might need to modify it or break it down into smaller stair-step goals. This is ok, too. 

Be realistic about how much you can get done. And make sure that you’re comfortable with the impact that your project and the time that you dedicate to it will have on your life. Also, make sure that your goals bring enjoyment—good stress—rather than bad stress into your life. 

Good stress makes you feel more enthusiastic and excited about life. Bad stress tends to lead to burnout and zaps your enthusiasm. Keep an eye on how you feel. Because you’re in control. 

Your goals should give you spiritual energy, although you might have to work hard to achieve them. And remember you’re the best judge of what feels right for you, what’s working, and what’s not.

If you follow this advice, 2021 can be a transformative year for you. “The new normal” doesn’t have to be worse than the old normal. You can make it better.

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Joshua Levy
Joshua Levy
I have bee seeing Soken for while now. If you have some sort of lingering physcial malady go see him, don't wait. He's pretty busy and it might take some time to get in so call right now. Some of my injuries and pain that I have had for years have been greatly relieved by his rolfing work and he's also just a great human being. I would totally go see him for his other services as well. Rolfing doesn't need to be super intense though it can be. He will calibrate to what you need
Philippa Newman
Philippa Newman
I cannot recommend Soken highly enough. He will literally transform your life. I first came to meet Soken for his Rolfing services when I had been living with unbearable lower back pain for over a year. Numerous visits to doctors, various x-rays and months of physical therapy later, I was no better off and desperate to find an alternative solution. Having read about Rolfing as a technique, I discovered Soken's practice in NYC. I am now back pain free and able to do things I thought no longer possible. As I learned more about Soken during our Rolfing sessions, I became interested in his spiritual life coaching /contemplative guidance program. His carefully tailored program has given me enormous insight, and I am a better person, mother and leader as a result. Soken has a calming, peaceful and reassuring presence, and I am extremely grateful to have met him when I did.
A Rice
A Rice
Soken is an amazing coach that will get to the essence of your issues. Difficult issues seem to become easier handle talking to Soken. He is a great coach to have, especially in these times. He is clear and ensures you leave each session with an understanding and a plan of action.
Maya Kumits
Maya Kumits
I’ve been going to Soken for years for my bodywork and sending everyone I know to him too. The work he does with his hands is incredible - I cannot say enough good things. This review, however, is for life coaching. I was faced with a decision recently that I was having trouble making. I was going in circles. I kept changing my mind because I ultimately had no idea what to do. I felt lost and confused. I reached out to Soken for help and was so glad I did. After struggling for weeks trying to figure out the right thing to do, a 1-hour call with him gave me the clarity I needed. By answering a series of thoughtful questions and hearing my answers reflected back to me, I was able to untangle the signal from the noise. By the end of the call, the answer revealed itself. It’s been a few weeks since our call and I still feel great about the decision. I’m so grateful to Soken for helping me with this and won’t hesitate to reach out again for more life coaching.
Marni Gordon
Marni Gordon
I highly recommend Soken as he's a fantastic coach! Soken really helped me set clear goals and measures, helped me to get to insight, and ensures that I have a strong action plan with accountability in every session. Soken's coaching helped me overcome the fear of taking the next step. Soken is sensitive and provides compassionate support through the process.
faraz khan
faraz khan
Soken is an exceptionally intelligent person who seems to understand any multiple of bodily issues. I've been struggling with a reoccurring injury the past few years, and already after the first session I can sense a lot of good has been done. I highly recommend him to anyone 😊
Shonni Silverberg
Shonni Silverberg
I got to know Soken as a client of his Rolfing practice, where his expertise was immeasurably valuable in treating my plantar fasciitis. During the COVID crisis, Soken introduced me to meditation. Practicing under his guidance has been extremely helpful in these turbulent times. Shonni J. Silverberg, M.D., New York, NY
Anaina Mascovich
Anaina Mascovich
The meditation guidance and talk last night was phenomenal. I have had instruction on Metta meditation before, but your explanation offered so much wisdom and direct understanding. Much Gratitude to You Soken.
Lena Elkousy
Lena Elkousy
This review is long overdue, and I would give 10 stars if I could. I cannot recommend Soken's work highly enough. Rolfing is an investment in my physical and emotional health that I wish I had made long ago. To put it quite simply, Soken has changed my life. When we work together, he listens to what I say and what my body says, and works with me right where I am. He is a true healer. In our first series of sessions, he permanently relieved shoulder/neck pain and unfurled a chronic knot that no amount of years of deep tissue massage could even touch. One side of my ribcage was bound with fascia and scar tissue from physical and emotional trauma, to the point that I couldn't breathe into my lower right lung without feeling cramping in surrounding muscles. Over a few sessions, he set me free, and you can actually see the difference in the shape of my ribs. In a series other sessions, he relieved sharp cramping in my feet that I've dealt with since childhood. As a yogi and meditator myself, I find Soken's integrative approach quite profound. Do yourself a favor and an act of self love: and go see this wizard.
Stella Nyla Jules
Stella Nyla Jules
Soken has been transformational in improving and diminishing the increasing pain in my neck and shoulder that traditional physical therapies failed to resolve. His patience, caring, and intuition are top notch.


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