Let’s be Hopeful Yet Practical!
It’s no secret that 2020 has been an unusual and difficult year. I’m never one to wish away time, but I do have to honestly say, I’m looking forward to the new year and a fresh start. We have no idea what the new year will hold for us. In December 2019, few people, if anyone, saw a global pandemic emerging in March 2020.
I have heard on the news a lot about a long, dark winter. That language is very counterproductive and harmful to our society. That being said, on the flip side, I also don’t think that Covid will magically disappear as the clock strikes midnight and this crazy year will be over and we will all go back to normal on January 1, 2021. I’ve heard this a lot too. That mindset is very counterproductive and harmful to our society as well.
I think what we need to do is to learn our lessons from 2020 and prepare for 2021. We need to be hopeful that life will get better and our world will return to normal, but we also need to be realistic. There may be more difficult times and life may bring us things that we don’t necessarily want to deal with. We need to be hopeful, yet practical.
As the year wraps up and 2021 approaches, I’d like to share with you some things that I do annually, to prepare for the new year. Feel free to use these tips.
At the beginning of each new year, I make a spreadsheet of my monthly bills and sort them by due date. Most of them are autopay, but some bills I do need to pay directly online. If necessary, I put payment reminders in my calendar, so I don’t miss payment due dates. Once you do this initially, it pretty much carries over from year to year, unless you add or remove monthly bills. For example, I cancelled my gym membership this year, so that bill will not carry over to next year.
I then make a list of my annual “To-dos”. This includes once a year items, such as renewing memberships to different organizations, paying dues, paying annual insurances, preparing and filing my tax return, and renewing my business Charter. Just to name a few. I also set this up by due date. On this list, I also include preparing the spreadsheet of monthly bills, the To-do List, and my Goal List for next year. Again, once you do this initially, it pretty much carries over from year to year, taking into account changes to the To-do List and Goal List.
The next list that I prepare is my Goal List. These are the goals I want to accomplish during the year. I also include my 10-year goals on this list; they are a little loftier, but I include them, because why not? I have nothing to lose and everything to work for.
I also like to take an audit of everything I have and have not accomplished during the year by reviewing the lists from the previous year. I then evaluate what I did not get to and if there is a reason behind it. Did I procrastinate? Was I not able to do it? Do I even want it anymore?
If I didn’t get to an item on my list, I may carry it over, or just let it go. That is where the evaluation comes in. I don’t do it as a punitive measure. Maybe something that I initially thought I would get to at the beginning of the year did not resonate with me and that is why I didn’t do it. I grant myself grace and flexibility when I create these lists and do the audits.
I also celebrate my accomplishments, and I also celebrate what I did not get to because that item probably doesn’t resonate with me anymore and I can let it go. Acknowledging that you don’t want to do something is just as important as achieving a goal. In fact, it may be even greater.
At the end of the year, I reflect on where I have been in the past year and where I am going. Some people may find this reflection difficult or they don’t want to admit that they didn’t accomplish much over the last year. I’d like to offer you the chance to do this reflection and do it without judgment. There is no reason to be hard on yourself.
Preparing for the new year and setting yourself up for success is important. However, it is important to remember to be flexible. The events of 2020 are a prime example of that. As you go through the year, you can make changes to your lists. Keep it fluid and revisit your lists periodically. Add to it or subtract from it.
I also recommend printing out the lists. If you have accomplished something, cross it out. If there is an item that you decide you don’t want to accomplish, cross that out too. I’d recommend using different color pens or markers for this purpose. You have a sense of accomplishment when you see your items crossed out.
I have now started my initial audit. I had six goals for last year. Two of them I accomplished. One of them I will never have to do again! As for the other one, I will need to do again next year, so I will carry it forward. For the other four, I wouldn’t say that I accomplished them, and I can remove them from the list. I will say that I made progress on each of them and will most likely carry them over to continue that progress. I also have to determine if there is anything that I want to add.
Finally, I don’t create separate lists for professional and personal goals. Being self-employed, I don’t see much of a separation of professional and personal goals, so they are both included on my lists. This works for me, but it may or may not work for you if you are not self-employed.
I hope that this helps you get ready for 2021. While we never know what the future holds, I believe that it is important to be prepared and ready. You also need to have flexibility for when life throws a curveball, because I can guarantee life will throw a curveball.
I truly hope that 2021 is better for everyone than 2020.
Stay hopeful but be practical.
Happy New Year!