How to Set Goals for 2021

I never used to be one to have New Year's Resolutions. It just seemed like another thing that might set me up for failure & I just didn't see the point.

Slowly but surely, I've come around to the idea, but I prefer to call them goals instead of resolutions. Maybe it just seems less formal & intimidating that way.

I have by no means achieved perfection at setting & achieving goals. I'm still somewhat clumsily working through much of this for myself, but I hope you'll find some helpful tips in setting goals of your own. And maybe we can learn together!


Start with the Big Picture

I like to start with a bird's-eye view of the year. At the end of this coming year, where do I want to be?

For me, I see myself having a better prayer life, making more meaningful connections with my loved ones, living healthier, writing regularly.

I'm sure there are other things I will add along the way, but that gives me a great starting point. Getting this picture in my mind helps me formulate my goals.

As a Christian, seeking God's help in directing these paths is crucial. We can often set these big goals that on the surface seem fine & good, but if we are not submitting to His authority in our life, we are bound for disappointment.

Write Down Your Goals

A fancy journal, a document on your computer, or a note on your phone - get those goals written down. It doesn't have to be complete or perfect, just list out what's on your mind. Some organizational gurus might call this a "brain dump." It helps you clear all the mental clutter. If you're a visual learner like me, seeing them in writing helps a lot.

As you write these goals, prayerfully consider which of these goals should take the priority. Start to organize & categorize them.

Remember that these goals will be revisited often. (You might even want to write them on a pretty worksheet like the one my email subscribers are getting in the inboxes!) They can be generic for now. We can get specific later. Just get them written.

Categorize Your Goals

Just like many of you, I am a woman who wears many hats. So, I find it helpful to break these goals into the various arenas of my life. For me it looks like this, but you might have other areas you want to grow in...

  • Christian Walk or Spiritual - sometimes I can get a little legalistic to set goals for myself in this area, but there are definitely areas of my spiritual life that need to be disciplined & have a set schedule
  • Family - marriage first, then parenting; for me this might also encompass homeschooling
  • Health - eat healthier, exercise regularly, get caught up on all those doctor's appointments
  • Relationships - this usually involves my family relationships, friendships, & community at church
  • Career - blogging consistently; this probably looks so different for each person
  • Recreation - I have so many things that I want to learn, but I think my focus this year might be on watercolor

You might have different categories. Maybe you'd have a separate category for church if you happen to serve in a larger role there. Or maybe you are retired & don't need a separate "career" category. It might be helpful to make a "service" category for goals that involve charity work or community service of some sort. Maybe your family has some financial goals - saving for a house or an adoption, paying off student debt - & a financial section would serve you better. (This is why I'm sending out 2 versions of the goal-setting worksheet to my subscribers - so that you can make it your own.)

Break The Goals into Steps

These goals might seem too general, so that's why we start breaking them down. Each goal has some steps that we have to take to accomplish them.

For instance, let's take my recreation goal of learning to watercolor.

  1. The first thing I would need was buy some supplies. Paint, brushes, paper are probably enough for now.
  2. After that, I'd need to figure out how I'm going to learn this new skill. Since in-person learning is a little tricky at the moment & more expensive than I can afford just yet, I will try the self-taught method. YouTube frustrates me when I have messy hands & can't pause the videos easily, so maybe a book would be best. It will give me a plan & structure (which I need!).
  3. I borrow a book from the library & plan to spend 30 minutes everyday working through the lessons in that book.
  4. I might even need to set a reminder in my phone to help me get into the habit.

For a financial goal, it could be helpful to divide into smaller monthly goals. And those goals broken down by what you can cut from your monthly budget.

Or a goal of eating healthier would be served by compiling a list of healthy recipes to try.

Or maybe you have a goal to declutter your house & you just need to work on one room at a time. Or join a decluttering challenge - there are so many on Instagram & Facebook this time of year.

Just take the goals you listed & make them into simple, manageable steps. So many resolutions fail because we dream big but don't actually plan out how we're going to reach that big dream. When a goal is made simple through planning, I feel like it's so much more possible & I'm much less likely to throw in the towel.

Call in the Goal-Setting Experts

If you're still struggling with just how to get those goals set or just how to break them down to make them more achievable, fear not! There are so many experts out there that God has gifted as organizational & goal-setting guides. Two names in particular come to mind when I think of setting goals: Lara Casey & Emily Freeman.

Lara is the creative energy behind Cultivate What Matters where you can find all kinds of goal-setting resources, planners, etc. She also wrote a book of the same name & I found it really helpful. She has a heart for helping women set & achieve their goals.

Emily is the author of The Next Right Thing & also hosts a podcast with the same name. (Yes, I always get the sone that Anna sings in Frozen 2 stuck in my head when I hear this, too.) She's also very good at teaching you to reflect on the lessons you've learned. Just a lot of helpful tools & encouraging resources for goals & decisions.

These ladies have very different approaches - one is exuberant & brightly-colored, the other is minimalistic, soulful, quiet. I find I'm somewhere in between some days & need a little bit of both, but you might gravitate toward one more than the other. Or you might have another person you already follow for Gospel-centered goal planning! Please share in the comments so we can all learn together!


Are you a seasoned goal setter or are you a newbie like me? Do you have any tips & tricks that you'd like to share? Please comment below!

Cheering you on!


Oh & don't forget to subscribe at the bottom of this page for your free goal-setting worksheet!

Leave a Comment
Join the List
sunshine decorative element
Don't forget to join the list!

Enter your email to join the list and be among the first to hear about new shop items, special offers and blog posts.