Be Realistic With Your Expectations
Look, after the dumpster fire that was 2020, I’m not going to make any guarantees about 2021. How many articles were written last year about “How to Make 2020 the Best Year Ever?”
We all know how that turned out.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to make 2021 better. I mean, how hard can it be? If we can actually go to restaurants safely, without restrictions, we’ll already come out ahead.
Let’s not settle for just returning to normal, though. Try to make 2021 your best year ever.
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To make 2021 a better year, first decide what you want to accomplish. Define what will have to happen for you to consider 2021 a success.
Once you’ve figured out what you’d like to achieve in 2021, it’s time to set your goals. Instead of making a New Year’s resolution, set several concrete goals that you will work to achieve, and then come up with a plan for achieving them.
You can set goals for your career, your finances, your health, or any area you would like to improve. Just make sure they are clear, measurable, and attainable.
Next, create a concrete plan to achieve your goals. Write out all the things you will need to do to accomplish your goals, step-by-step.
As you go through the year, check back in on your plan, and see if you’re hitting your benchmarks. If you fall off track, reevaluate your steps and adjust them accordingly.
Finally, celebrate! If you follow the steps above, you will achieve your goals. And you’ll already have made 2021 a better year than 2020.
Invest In Yourself
2021 will be the year of you. After everything we went through in 2020, you deserve to put yourself first in 2021. And what better way to do that than to invest in improving yourself?
Choose some areas you’d like to improve in, and spend some money to learn or level-up in those disciplines. Whether you want to finally get in shape, develop a new skill, or simply want to learn more about the world, decide to spend some money, guilt-free, on doing just that.
Here are some ideas for how you can invest in yourself in 2021.
Improve your Fitness
Have you decided that 2021 will be the year when you finally get strong enough to do a pull-up? Go out and buy a pull-up bar and start working toward your goal!
You can also invest in a program to improve your overall fitness. I personally recommend Beachbody On Demand. It’s much cheaper than going to the gym, and you can choose from dozens of full-fledged fitness programs to fit your workout style and fitness level.
Beachbody On Demand includes super popular programs like Insanity and P90X, as well as courses for pilates, yoga, barre, dance cardio, kickboxing, and pretty much any type of workout you can think of!
Whatever your preferred workout style, Beachbody probably has an option for you. Although I had never done any kickboxing or martial arts before trying it, my favorite program on Beachbody on Demand is Core de Force, which combines elements of several martial arts disciplines. Although it’s focused on building core strength, it also is a great cardio workout. The workouts go by in no time because they’re so much fun—but I’m so sore the next day that I know I worked hard!
Learn a New Language
Did your travel plans get interrupted in 2020? Prepare for when it’s finally safe to travel again by learning a new language so you can explore like a local.
Although I’m not fluent in any language other than English, I love learning languages. I studied Spanish and German in school, and continue to try to improve my skills in both languages.
I’ll be honest. I hadn’t really improved beyond my high school skills in either language, despite earning a year-long streak on Duolingo. I realized that I didn’t really have an incentive to study for more than the five minutes a day I spent on Duolingo.
I found Babbel to be a fun and engaging way to learn a language. One of the biggest selling points to me was that it doesn’t penalize you for getting something wrong. I always found the fear of losing hearts in Duolingo to be really stressful.
With Babbel, when you get something wrong, you simply see that concept or word again in your review. Babbel uses spaced repetition to help you build your vocabulary, which is widely-acknowledged as one of the best ways to remember concepts.
So if you’ve been meaning to improve your foreign language skills, or are looking to learn the basics before a trip, why not try Babbel?
Learn Skills for Work
If you’re looking for a new job or are hoping for a promotion in 2021, picking up some new skills can really help. While there are many free resources available to learn work-related skills, if you prefer more formal courses or are looking to learn more advanced skills, you may need to spend some money.
For many people, learning a new skill can open completely new doors. Learning HTML and CSS, for example, could help you earn that promotion to Digital Marketing Manager. Or learning Adobe Photoshop could help you land that role as a Social Media Manager.
Investing in a membership to a site like Skillshare can help you develop your skills in a number of disciplines, making your resume more attractive in the process. Skillshare also offers a number of personal development courses for your own self improvement.
Read More Books
One of the simplest ways to invest in yourself is to read more books. Books can help you learn from experts in any subject, improve your skills, or simply expand your worldview.
Reading allows you to escape into new worlds. For a small investment, you can learn about different cultures, have fun, and take a break from reality, all while learning anything you can dream of!
Pick Up a New Hobby
Another way to make 2021 a better year is to pick up a new hobby. Make 2021 the year you finally learn to play an instrument or try a new sport.
Why is it so important to have a hobby? Well, studies show that hobbies can lead to better work performance, improved physical health, and reduced stress.
If any of your goals for 2021 include advancing in your career, getting fitter, or feeling better, perhaps picking up a hobby should be part of your plan to achieve them!
If you don’t have any particular passions or interests that you can connect to a new hobby, here are some suggestions for hobbies you can try:
- Playing an Instrument
Even if you think you lack skills in an area, the wonderful thing about a hobby is that it’s just for you. Are you tone deaf but love music? If playing the piano makes you happy, take some lessons! Can’t draw anything beyond stick figures? Try painting by numbers!
A hobby should be something you enjoy doing. If it helps you improve a skill that you use at work, that’s great. But the benefits of participating in an activity that you enjoy extend far beyond self-improvement, and anything that makes you happier and healthier is a win in my book.
Be Kind To Yourself
Finally, the most important way to make 2021 a better year is to be kind to yourself. 2020 wasn’t easy for anyone, and it’s important to put things in perspective.
In 2021, decide what’s really important to you. Did the forced quarantine make you realize how much time you previously had to spend away from your family because of work? Maybe a better work-life balance is more important to you than climbing the corporate ladder.
It’s not easy to stay positive during tough times. It’s important that you prioritize both your mental and physical health.
Make it a goal to perform self care in 2021. What that means will be different for everyone.
If running relaxes you, resolve to carve out time every morning to go for a run. If you’re going back to work in an office for the first time in a year, maybe you want to splurge on a new wardrobe that helps you feel more confident. Or perhaps you enjoy nothing more than a good soak in the tub every Sunday night.
Whatever makes you happy, give yourself permission to indulge. After a year with so many sacrifices and so much suffering, everyone should be able to let go once in a while.
Make Yourself a Priority in 2021
To make 2021 a better year, prioritize yourself. Set goals, invest in yourself, pick up a new hobby, and practice self care. Focus on you.
This isn’t just my advice. Research has shown that putting yourself first doesn’t just improve your own happiness and productivity—it allows you to better focus on others’ needs. People who prioritize their own well-being are better positioned to give more to others, meaning everyone wins.
So go ahead. Make 2021 your best year ever. But remember, there are things outside of your control. Nobody could have predicted what we experienced in 2020. So be prepared to adapt, and focus on what you can change. Everything else will fall into place.