How Your New Years Resolutions Can Look Different in 2021

writing in a notebook

This last year has been anything but predictable. In this time when things still feel uncertain, it is important that we try to set realistic New Years’ resolutions. You may be hesitant to say that 2021 is going to be “your year” but here are a few ways you can set realistic goals for yourself.

Improving Your Goals

sticky notes on board

You may not have a goal to travel more, because depending on where you live this might not be possible. Then again, if your goal is to travel more than you did in 2020 that might be possible.

Other New Years’ resolutions that you probably set at the beginning of 2020 that seem hilarious now are things like, “socialize more” and “go to the gym.” These goals are wonderful, but as we have seen this year it may be hard to set goals involving social interaction. The events of 2020 have definitely opened our eyes to how much we really aren’t in control.

Setting New Year’s resolutions can be fun if done right, even following this year of uncertainty. This year it seemed difficult to keep our resolutions because of the changes happening in the world. Here are some goal setting methods that will help you in 2021.

Related Link: Try Something New!

Methods for Goal Setting

jotting down goals


SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific — What exactly do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable — How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?
  • Attainable — Is this something you have control over?
  • Relevant — Why/how is this applicable to your life?
  • Timely — By when do you plan to achieve your goal?

This is one of the most well-known goal-setting methods out there. This method was created by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham in 1981.

These types of goals are easy to set and easy to use which is why they have become such a popular choice. All of these words must be used to describe one goal in order for it to be considered a SMART goal.

HARD Goals

  • Heartfelt — Think of three reasons why you want this goal.
  • Animated — How will this goal help me shape my future?
  • Required — What steps are required for me to accomplish this goal?
  • Difficult — What skills do I need to achieve this goal? How can I develop these skills?

Another acronym, but this one has you think about a goal from another perspective. There are some great questions to use as a guideline when setting your goals. These questions are meant to help you set realistic goals and new years resolutions. Forbes wrote an article stating that “HARD goals, not SMART goals are the key to career development.”

One Word Goal Setting

This method is often used with students. One word goal setting is all about simplification. Often, goals can feel overwhelming. This can be for many reasons but the most common is “analysis paralysis.” An article from The Balance shares that there are three main things to consider when picking your word.

First, you must reflect on what you want to change for next year. Ask yourself questions like “what do I need to change?” or “what do I want to accomplish this year.” The second step is brainstorming. You should think of all the possible words that will help you to achieve your end goal. Finally, choose your word. In this process, you must choose the word that is most meaningful and all-encompassing of your goals.

Related Link: New Year’s Comfort for Late Bloomers

Backward Goals

As you can tell by the title, this is a method of setting goals where you work backward. The small business section of The Balance also wrote about this form of goal setting. They broke this process up into four steps.

  1. Start with big and broad goals.
  2. Break your goal up into smaller pieces.
  3. Split smaller goals into specific targets.
  4. Create a master list of single actions.

If you are like me and you thoroughly enjoy lists and checking off boxes this might be the process for you. Having a long list of small action items may seem overwhelming at first. Once you start checking off boxes, it will give you a sense of accomplishment that is important for eventually achieving your larger goals.

Quarterly Goals

Reevaluate your goals every three months. Setting goals every so often can help you to avoid burnout. You can even change your goals every quarter instead of just re-evaluating them. This is a process that can be used in addition to any of the previous goal-setting methods mentioned here.

Overall, there are so many ways to set goals for the coming year, but I have found that intentional goals are the most profitable in the long run. Not only will methods like these help you to achieve the goals you’ve set, but they will also create a better pattern for your future goals as well.

How will your New Years’ resolutions look different in 2021? Share in the comments. 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.