2020 has been a tough year — even Jon Acuff, who’s published six books and is a New York Times bestselling author stated, “True story: in 2020, one of my goals was just to take a shower every day.” 


Still, as Jon reminds us, a new year is a chance to get up and try again. Setting goals, big or small, helps give us the energy and hope we need to move forward.


These goals give us the chance to improve ourselves, both personally and professionally. 


Here are some ideas to think about!

Remember That Changes Can Be Small

One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals is thinking too big too fast. It’s more exciting to dream of dropping 100 pounds than 10 pounds, so we set huge goals. And, we try to accomplish them all at once.


The best way to achieve anything is by starting small. Even microscopically small. Micro habits done daily can be piggybacked on each other and before you know it, you’re doing something incredible.


Instead of committing to working out 3 hours a week, start with just putting on your gym clothes every morning. Once you’ve done that every day for a couple of weeks, begin adding a walk to the mailbox and back. Then around the block.


It seems like nothing, but that’s the point. Because it’s so small, our defense mechanisms don’t kick in and prevent us from taking action. We don’t get discouraged and quit. 


Small changes lead to big results.

Create Morning and Evening Routines

Having a set routine may seem like a small routine, but it’s a goal many people aspire towards, especially when it comes to morning routines. What you might not realize is that you already have a morning routine. It just might not be accomplishing what you want.


For instance, you might get up, put on a robe, and make a cup of coffee. While drinking your coffee, you might scroll social media or check your email. Before you know it, it’s time to leave for work and you’re rushing to get dressed and out the door.


To accomplish what you want during the mornings, make small changes in your morning to make it more effective. Start your coffee, and then commit to five minutes of meditation before you grab your phone. Once you’ve achieved this, you might decide to do five jumping jacks each day after your meditation. As you build these healthy habits, there will naturally be less time for email, social media, or other less helpful activities.


One of the biggest challenges with a morning routine is that it starts the night before. Many of us loathe the idea of giving up our free time and going to bed at a reasonable time, so we end up waking up tired and late. This puts stress on our mornings.


You can create an evening routine the same way you make a morning one. Start with small habits right before bed. Work backward until you have a nice, productive routine that includes everything you need to be ready for the next day.

Single-Task With Time Blocking

During the day, we may try to multitask at work or at home. Whether you’d like to believe it or not, multi-tasking is a myth. If you try to do two things at once, neither one receives the attention it deserves to be completed. 


One of the best ways to single-task, especially at work, is to use time blocking. This is especially helpful when you’re working from home, which can help if you’re prone to distractions.


When you time block, you use a calendar or an agenda to set aside specific amounts of time for each task. Block each time period off as if you were in a meeting, and make sure to protect that time. You might use one hour in the morning as a work block for a specific priority project. By designating time to specific projects, you can dedicate your unbridled attention to everything you do. 


As a working professional, you can easily do this with online calendars. Since most of your coworkers will use your calendar to schedule meetings with you, you can block time off for your projects. This way, you can set boundaries with your coworkers; they can work around your priorities instead of interrupting you. Setting boundaries when it comes to your time is key to achieving your goal, and oftentimes it can be translated into other goals as well, like your finances.

Get Ahold of Your Finances

2020 did a number on a lot of people’s finances. Whether you experienced unemployment or obtained an online shopping addiction, you might be in a bit of a financial mess right now.


Getting your finances back in order is a great way to better yourself in the new year. Start by making a budget that takes into account your normal income and expenses. Be sure to schedule your budget around the dates your bills are due and when you get paid. 


If your credit has taken a hit, look at ways you can improve your credit score so you have more financial flexibility. Some easy ways to do this is to make extra payments, set up autopay to avoid late payments, and stop using credit cards for expenses.


If you’re not making enough money to meet your needs, you might consider a side hustle. Doing extra work like freelance writing or web design can help you earn the money you need for bills or debt — or it can be your fun money! However, it’s also important to keep in mind that your mental and physical well-being is a priority. If you find yourself prioritizing your work and finances too much, it may be time to make self-care a goal for 2021.

Work on Self-Care

Self-care can be a challenging topic, because to some people it sounds like indulgent laziness. Others associate the term with expensive spa days. Neither of these definitions is true. Self-care simply means what it says: taking care of yourself.


You can do this completely for free, and it can consist of activities that bring you joy. Some activities can range from playing an online game for 30 minutes after work to a simple walk in the park on the weekend. 


Caring for yourself isn’t just something you do at home, either. When you practice self-care at work, you can reduce your stress, improve your focus, and perform better. You’ll make fewer mistakes and will be able to handle problems with a clearer mind. 


Taking care of yourself isn’t optional. The ultimate way to improve your year is to help yourself first.

Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet

Every step of this year has been chaotic — everything from adjusting to remote work while living through a pandemic to finding ways to relax when everything is closed. The good news is that a new year is coming, and with it, a chance to change for the better.


Whether you decide to create a new routine, try time blocking, or focus on self-care, you can set yourself up for a successful 2021 both at home and at work. Make it a great year!

Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but technology and digital marketing topics are his favorite. When he isn't writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming.


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