January 2021 Leader Letter

Setting Goals Amidst Uncertainty

With all that is unknown, making resolutions and leading with goals becomes even more critical.

By Renée Covino

We were still in the middle of a pandemic when 2021 arrived, that much is certain. Are we clear about anything else?

Despite the looming uncertainty, setting goals is still a powerful new-year leadership tool—perhaps more so this year than ever—not to just maintain your team’s productivity and energy, but also to save your sanity as the person many will be looking up to. So, while leaders should still think about making resolutions and outlining goals for the upcoming months, they may want to think about the steps a little bit differently. Here is a quick compilation of expert advice for setting goals during these unprecedented times:

First, do not get hung up on what was not achieved in 2020. Thankfully, that year is over—and with it, went countless aspirations and agendas. And that’s okay. Start this year with gratitude and pride. You are one year older and many years wiser after surviving a very difficult year. Use what you learned and the changes that took place in your workplace, clubs, and personal life to help shape your new or renewed goals as a leader.

List what was achieved in 2020—and smile. When you put 2020’s accomplishments down on paper, you will probably be surprised at what was achieved. List everything you can think of that contributed to your team’s survival—“we learned how to conduct meetings and support one another on Zoom”—counts.

Ask yourself some “fun” questions. What did you find yourself enjoying more last year than you expected to? What new skills did you learn or discover? What did people ask you to do—or pay you to do—differently than before? How do you see yourself incorporating these answers into this year’s goals?

Keep trying. For those goals that did not come to fruition last year, or were only partly resolved, decide if they should be incorporated into this year’s roster. There is no failure when you keep trying a different way to move forward.

Write your goals down and make them visible. Perhaps even use one or two as your online meeting background! Having goals on display can be a great conversation starter for you to help others achieve their goals and for them to contribute to your goal success, too.

Apply the SMART goal strategy. SMART goals still apply in these times; they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Using this method to set goals ensures they are clear, attainable, and meaningful. Following this methodology will lead to more success in following through and accomplishing more, even in this very uncertain year.

Re-evaluate your goals monthly. Volatile times call for constant measures. This is not the year you can “set goals and forget them.” Gather feedback from team members on a regular basis. Get everyone involved in the goals and adjust where you can. Listen to your team. Trust your instincts.

Additional Resources:

What Is Your Dream-Big Vision?

Think About 2021 Goal-Setting Differently

How to Set Goals for 2021 When Everything Feels Uncertain

SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable