2021 Planning: 4 simple steps you need to skyrocket your goals

Jan 14, 2021

Did you finish last year exhausted, ready for a break and to start afresh in the new year?

I know I did!

As you turned the page on the calendar, you breathed a sigh of relief. It marked the end of one year and start of another. An opportunity to re-set, create new goals and a plan for 2021.

The truth is January 1st is like any other day. You can do this anytime throughout the year.

But stepping away from work for a week or two gave you the chance to process the events of 2020. To reflect on what’s important and what you want moving forward.

You may have complete clarity on what you’re going to do differently. Or no idea at all! Still, before jumping straight back into work and your old routines, it’s important to have a plan! 

Need help turning your ideas into clear goals and action steps?

Read on to discover four steps to get clarity on your goals and create a plan to reach them. You’ll walk away with a simple, step-by-step strategy to support your 2021 planning!


What matters to you most in your work and life? Before setting goals, it’s important to review what you want and what needs to change as a result. You can do this by getting clear on your work motivators and personal values.

Step #1 — Know your non-negotiables at work

Think about your work motivators or non-negotiables at work. Your preferred work environment, hours, culture of your company or team. Daily tasks, role responsibilities and how you’re spending your time.

What did 2020 highlight for you? Consider the aspects you haven’t been prioritising or those you weren’t even aware of. Has anything changed?

For example, reflect on how the pandemic travel restrictions affected you. You may be craving more travel in your role. Or want to reduce your daily commute to work on a permanent basis.

Remote working is another. Many people enjoyed the flexibility of working from home last year. And want this to continue in some capacity.

Whatever it is, make a note of your priorities and what motivates you at work.

Step #2 — Clarify your values

Your values are the things which are most important to you in your work and life. Prioritising your values gives you more purpose, motivation and fulfillment. When you’re angry or upset, it’s often a sign you’re out of alignment with your highest values.

A common mistake people make when trying to identify their values? Going through a ‘shopping list’ of values they’ve found online. The problem with this method is we tend to select the ones which ‘sound good’ or those we ‘should’ aspire to.

The best way to clarify what matters to you is by looking at your past behaviour. Here’s how.

  • Identify a specific, pivotal moment in your life — one that’s memorable or rewarding. What was happening in this moment? How were you feeling?

What values were important to you in this situation? Was it freedom or connection, recognition or excellence? Write down 2-3 core values.

  • Next, think of a time when you were angry, upset or frustrated. What caused this reaction? Often, it’s something opposing one of your greatest values.

In other words, it indicates a value is being suppressed. If you flip this over and look at the other side, what value is being highlighted? Write down 2-3 values which come to mind.

  • Narrow your list down to your top 2-3 values. The rest are important but these are your priorities. Then, write out a definition using key words or a sentence to describe what each of your top values means to you.

Words have different meaning to each of us. A value of ‘freedom’ could mean independence, adventure or creative expression. Understanding what it means to you is most important.

What to do next

  1. First, consider if your work is in alignment with your key priorities? Are you currently honouring your core values in your personal and professional life? If not, this will reveal where you need to make changes now.
  2. Second, use your work motivators and values as a filter to make the right decisions in future.


I recommend looking at goal-setting and planning from a long-term and short-term perspective. This involves clarifying your vision and goals for the next 3 years, 1 year, 6 months and 3 months.

Step #3 — Get clear on your vision

Always start with your vision. Or what you’re working towards. Your vision is the final destination point and your goals are the roadmap that gets you there.

You wouldn’t get in your car and start driving without knowing where you were going. This is why having clarity on your vision is the essential starting point.

Begin by looking at your longer term vision. The career and life you want to have in 3 years’ time. Get specific here.

  • How do you want to spend your time?
  • What will you have achieved?
  • Who do you want to be (personal qualities you want to possess, who you are)?
  • How do you want to feel?

From there, you can reverse engineer this vision into specific goals and action steps.

Step #4 — Set your goals

Working backwards, set specific, measurable goals on an annual, biannual or quarterly basis. I typically set annual goals in January, which I review mid-year. Then, outline the key projects I’m working on each quarter.

But this year I’m mixing things up! Because things changed so quickly in 2020, I’ve decided to set my ‘big’ goals for the next 6 months. This will give me more flexibility in what I expect to be another transformative year.

Start by doing a brain-dump. Get all your thoughts, priorities and ideas out of your head and onto paper.

Then, narrow this list down to the most important goals you want to work on during this period. Remove anything which doesn’t meet this criteria:

  • Priorities: What’s truly important to you?
  • Passions: What do you want to dedicate your time and energy to?
  • Profit: And what tasks or activities move the needle in your business?

Next, schedule each goal into your calendar. Prioritise what’s important. And be realistic about what you can complete within each month.

What to do next

  1. When it comes to planning, break each goal down into specific action steps. These are the tasks you need to complete to reach it. Keep a running list of projects and use these tasks to plan your daily, weekly and monthly schedule.
  2. To manage your time and reach your goals, plan your weeks in advance. Then, select three tasks you want to complete each day. Get clear on the number one priority task — and do that before moving onto anything else.

So there you have it. My four step strategy to help you figure out what you want in 2021 — and how to get it.

These steps have helped my clients and I create an effective plan and reach our biggest goals. I hope they support you too!

Need further support to turn your career ideas into clear goals + action steps?

Book your free 30 minute session to experience some coaching with me and see if we’re a fit to work together! Get started HERE.

Stacey Back is a Career Strategist, Leadership Coach + Founder of Profile Careers. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.