Should you set goals in 2021? Rochelle says no, at least not the way you have in the past.
Well, January 2021 is unfortunately (or fortunately?) already quite the rebel. Instead of the cliche, "New Year, New Me!" bullsh*t, we're being not-so-subtly reminded that life is complicated. Way more complicated than setting a goal, picking a pretty word, and making another vision board to forget about, a month from now.
geez Rochelle, bitter much?
I'm a little salty after doing everything within my control to get myself set up successfully this year, and then WHAM! Ridiculous domestic terrorism attack on the Capitol and my depression was like, "NOPE. Under your weighted blanket and to sleep you go, Rochelle."
However you're feeling today, your feelings are valid. And that applies whether you're reading this in 2021 or sometime in the future while internally battling the idealism of changing yourself for the sake of the first page of your wall calendar.
My goal for this blog post is to give goal-dependent overachievers like you something to focus on without burning yourself out in the process.
It's important to stay aware of your own bandwidth and not burn yourself out. You're going to do a lot of good work in your lifetime and it won't all take place in 2021.
While we can't be sure about anything right now, there are some best practices I'd like to recommend if you're the goal setting type at this time of year.
Keeping in mind that you may not have the mental or physical bandwidth right now, here's my advice on setting goals so you can achieve them.
How to Set Goals That Match Your Bandwidth Right Now (so you can actually achieve them!)
Get some rest, first. Take more naps.
I know, worst advice ever, right?
As an overachiever myself, some days being told to take a nap is the WORST. Sometimes we don't want to check out and turn off our brains. Sometimes we want to GET IN THERE! Make some noise! Show 'em how it's done! Speak our truth! Fight!
And yet, you still have to rest. That doesn't mean "instead of" all of the above. We're just rearranging the order a bit -- rest first, drink some water, take a break, then preach and battle.
Decide to prioritize your sleep. Start tracking your hours. Many fitness apps have sleep monitoring built right in, and most smart phones now include a "digital wellness" function to force you to shut down your electronics when you told your doctor you would.
Why it's important: There's an amazing domino effect that happens when your body is well-rested: You feel better. You're less likely to snap at people in-person and on social media. You're more likely to educate yourself, get involved locally in your community, and believe in yourself.
And yes, you're more likely to actually start that email newsletter, podcast, Tik Tok account, etc. It all comes together.
Sleep is amazing. Let's get some more of it.
Choose goals that center growth over increased production.
I know you're itching to increase your engagement on social media and get "ahead" so that you're not scrambling when it's launch time. That's smart.
But unless you've already met with a lawyer, have 3+ staff members, and a plan to sell your incorporated company by 2025, you're probably a solopreneur with great intentions and honestly just trying to the best you can to keep this thing alive.
Solopreneurship is beautiful and exciting, but it requires a whole lot of self care since YOU are the brand.
Spoiler alert: If you don't believe me, try posting more family stuff instead of promotional stuff and you'll see that people will relate to you much more quickly than they do when you're eloquently outlining the benefits of your product or service or re-posting pretty quotes.
But devoting yourself to your business and growing a brand takes time and energy. Here are some easy-ish ideas for replenishing yourself and slowly incorporating your personal growth into your brand:
- Wake up and grab your journal instead of your phone.
- Long-term advantage: Getting more anchored in your foundational beliefs so that you can lead your growing team in the years to come. You'll know which opportunities and strategies are for you and which ones are only influencing you because their targeted ads found you on the internet.
- Unfollow social justice accounts that make you feel guilty instead of empowered.
- Long-term advantage: Believe it or not, the algorithm gets better with unfollows, too. It's not just about getting tagged and having lots of comments. While I don't recommend depending on a revenue-focused advertising robot ("algorithm," for short) to tell you what's important on the internet every day, it can be helpful to see more of the content that's truly helpful to your cause. Most content creators have good intentions with what they post, but many of them are speaking from hurt and trauma and may not be the kind of influence you need at this point in your entrepreneurial journey. Choose empowering internet friends, instead.
- Read a book, blog, or newsletter instead of consuming social media.
- Long-term advantage: Long form content is more likely to reference research and additional resources. You'll be able to set and stick to your own goals without being easily influenced by ads and quick-win content on social media. It's also a lot easier to curate your inbox content than it is your social feeds.
- Set a reminder on your phone to take a 3 minute break during the time of day you usually start feeling fed up with the world.
- Long-term advantage: You'll get used to checking in with yourself regularly instead of spending your entire work day reacting to everyone else. Plus you really should stop looking at glowing pixels on a digital screen for at least a few minutes. Try it, now!
- And while we're at it... set reminders to eat. To drink. To stop working. All of it. Set up a new ritual with your family for talking, playing offline games, or making art together.
- Long-term advantage: You'll shed the capitalist-fueled habit of working and hustling. And we all need to work on that. And during this temporary work-from-home season, you'll set a good example for your kiddos if you have some. Wouldn't it have been nice to grow up in a household where there were daily reminders to take breaks? It starts with you.
Prioritize Therapy or Mental Health Help
Spoiler alert: You're probably depressed.
Let's face it, most of us are depressed or dealing with serious anxiety right now. We don't need a diagnosis from a doctor to know that.
Trust me, there's only so much a depressed person can do before her depression sabotages her. (points to self from under her weighted blanket)
Dig out the benefits packet and see how many therapy session are included in your plan. Even if you don't feel like you need them right now, it's good information to know. Just like chiropractic benefits or how much your co-pay is for an annual check-up with your general practitioner. It's healthy to plan ahead for your mental health, and you'll want to know your options while you're (somewhat?) emotionally stable rather than while you're in crisis.
If your health insurance plan sucks (and if you're in the USA with anything other than a soul-sucking day job, it probably does) then take a look at OpenPathCollective where you can find a therapist for $60 per session. I found my therapist on there, but I'll warn you that a lot of the therapists listed in their directory are actually not taking new clients. Again, another reason to do this while you're not in desperate need of someone to talk to (speaking from experience).
If you're really not into talk therapy (or not ready, because there's stigma around it in your family or community) then you can try working through it yourself with writing prompts from the internet. If racial injustice is having a particularly difficult effect on your mental health right now, I'd recommend Inner Field Trip with Leesa Renee Hall.
Don't set goals by yourself.
Let's face it, it's easy to hide from yourself. In our modern day culture of people asking, "What show should I binge watch next??" it's no wonder we set goals and forget about them.
Even something as simple as choosing a word or phrase of the year will lose meaning if you don't integrate it into your life. I know people who have forgotten what their word was. I have been guilty of making a vision board, posting it on my wall, and not even noticing it until years later. Yes, personal action is important, but we're social creatures. We need love and support and community to accomplish what matters. After all, many of the goals you have for your life involve affecting other people in some way, right? Your goals aren't all about you?
So yeah, we need to stay focused and stop going it alone.
How do you do that? With accountability. And hopefully the gentle, compassionate kind that doesn't smush you into staying the same person you've been for the last three years. That's the kind I provide in my business coaching membership, Gentle Momentum.
Find a good friend, coach, or mentor and create a system of accountability for yourself!
Get clear on your philosophy. Set some brand-wide goals, instead!
Focus your goals on what your business could be 5 or 10 years from now. What could that look like? What will it feel like...
When you've hired someone for customer service who's way better at dealing with ridiculous DMs than you are.
When you've got five podcasts to guest appear on over the next few weeks.
When you're stopping by Barnes and Noble to sign copies of your self-published book.
When you're getting your hair done for a branding photo shoot.
Imagine THAT phase of your business. It's a little further away than the Mardis Gras launch you're planning, sure. But this is what it means to think beyond your current circumstances.
Your business is way bigger than your product or service that you offer right now. You can't help but grow and help more people. Are you ready for it?
Set your goals for July. Not February.
Why? Because now is definitely not the time to plan a five figure launch for Valentine's Day.
There, I said it.
As someone who has worn all of the hats professionally (I have done Facebook ads, graphic design, Instagram copywriting, blogging, launch planning and much more), I mean this as no insult: You cannot handle all of it right now.
We're in the middle of a national awakening to the reality of systemic racism. There are emotions and generational trauma and and life-changing conversations happening.
And even if you believe you're emotionally stable enough to go for it (maybe you've decided to "keep out of politics," or you're already quite knowledgeable about systemic racism and this is just business as usual), your ideal clients may not be.
If you don't need time, then you still need to give your people, followers, and fans the time that they need right now.
If there's still a voice in your head defiantly saying "But I can be that business that makes it and sets an incredibly lucrative example of launching during a difficult time in history," then I salute you. Honestly. Some people are built like that and their hustle changes the world as we know it. But most people are NOT like that and need time to work, reflect, get feedback, and grow slowly. And a lot of those success stories on Instagram are nothing more than what they are: stories on Instagram. They end a lot like the successful diet testimonials on late night infomercials: a lot worse off than they were before.
That's why my coaching program is called Gentle Momentum, because as a former "I'll show them!" badge-wearer, I know that you need to slow down, not speed up.
You can still keep the ambitious goal you've set for yourself, whether it be onboarding 20 new clients, opening a brick and mortar studio, launching a Facebook ad campaign to grow your list, starting a podcast, or writing a book. But make the deadline a soft one, and make it your goal to achieve it by the end of Q2 instead of next week, okay?
Takeaway: "My goal for Q2, to have accomplished by the end of June this year is ____"
Spoiler alert: Yes end of June. Even if you hire it out.
- If you've only hired sparingly then be aware that there's a whole learning curve when it comes being a solopreneur with working with a contractor. You'll end up being that entrepreneur that us virtual assistants and project managers tell each other NOT to ever, ever work with.
- You can't outsource emotional trauma, and your contractors may not have the bandwidth to "do it all," either.