Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #21: End of Year Goal Setting

December 14, 2020

Hi! These show notes are in pure outline form – they are actually the notes I used to create the episode! I may go back and edit later, but wanted to get the notes out even in raw form — and am quite rushed this am.

Definitely came with more difficulty this year

  • More uncertainty
  • Feeling ‘burned by 2020’

Maybe it looks different – doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing

To review – I tend to use what I call Nested Goals lists

  • to make my daily list I start by look at my weekly list. (and calendar)
  • to make my weekly list I start by looking at my monthly list.
  • to make my monthly list I start by looking at my quintiles list
  • to make my quintiles list I start by looking at my yearly list (and my Someday Maybe list)
  • to make my yearly list . . . well, that’s a little harder!  

And, it’s true – it feels higher stakes because it’s the list that is used to help generate all others (but not in total – can always add things in as they come up!)

So, don’t exert pressure on yourself to include everything. 

(Not realistic anyway – don’t know what opportunities will come up!)

What I did for 2020/21:

  • Set aside time
  • Give myself a REASON to finish – I’m not usually someone who needs much accountability in form of other people, but deadlines can help me.  I had to record a podcast ep!  Maybe you set a date with a partner or friend to talk about goals?  
  • Think of CATEGORIES

Hard to just come up with items ad hoc – here are some categories to consider:

  • Relationships (friends, family, significant other)
  • Self (improvement, health, self-care, etc)
  • Work
  • Creative or side pursuits
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Learning – things like courses or reading
  • Don’t forget some things that are purely FUN!
  • Any habits or streaks you’d like to try
    • DON’T overdo this – tracking 27 things daily probably isn’t going to end well
  • Consider a WORD OR THEME
    • My 2020 word was “NOW” – I wrote “5- WORD OF THE YEAR: (drumroll please . . . ) — is NOW!

From a December 2019 blog post:

“NOW. As in not later. As in being in the present. As in taking time to get things done now rather than pushing them forward. As in doing the things I want to do now (within reason). As in paying attention to how I spend my precious time. As in doing kind things for others and giving (time and money) now rather than putting it on the docket for ‘someday’.”

Ironic kind of b/c was not able to do many of the things i originally planned on in the now 🙂 BUT, i think I did a good job pivoting and figuring out ways to enjoy the NOW.

My word of the year for 2021 – finite?  time?  choice?  intention?

It’s also okay to get inspiration from others’ lists!  I LOOOOVE looking at others’ lists for that reason. I will never skip a podcast ep that’s about someone else’s goals 🙂

I hope this inspires some to make a cup of favorite hot beverage, sit down with either your computer or trusted paper system and do some goal creation!  please share on insta – goals, your word, whatever.  THIS IS MY FAVORITE THING 🙂


  • Reply Grateful Kae December 14, 2020 at 7:15 am

    My word for 2020 was “intentionality”. It came to me last ~December 30th, 2019 when I had taken myself out to breakfast (alone) to actually sit and do some goal planning. I noticed an older man across the way from me also by himself. He was just sitting there with a cup of coffee, drinking it. I remember how striking that was- everyone else was either talking to someone, staring at their phone, reading a book, a newspaper, etc… and this man was just deeply enjoying his coffee- that’s it. SItting there alone, drinking his coffee, fully present. I then wrote down “intentionality”, because I was so inspired by him! I wanted to try to create more moments of real, intentional living like that this past year. I think I’d give myself a “B”! 🙂 I haven’t picked a word for 2021 yet either. Looking forward to this episode!

  • Reply Meg December 14, 2020 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for these categories. I’ve been looking at my 2021 planner and feel really blocked. The only thing I’ve done is create a books to read / books read list. I feel like reading is the only thing I can count on right now! It all feels unpredictable.

    My word for the year is “create.” I’m don’t consider myself creative, but I’ve been experimenting with hand lettering and watercolors lately and, even if my talent is extremely limited, it’s a nice release and I can do them with my art-loving 8 year old.

  • Reply Ashley December 14, 2020 at 11:27 am

    I am struggling with the concept of 2021 goal planning. I don’t feel like I’m in a good headspace, which makes it hard to think/plan/dream about the future. The most I’ve come up with is having a list of books I want to read and nearby parks/nature trails I want to make sure to visit. Anything grander than that is just not happening right now. Even some of the things on the 2020 list that are technically possible don’t sound very appealing! Setting monthly goals feels more realistic to me than planning out big goals for 2021.

  • Reply Jessica December 14, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    Excited for this episode! Totally agree, I love to hear other people’s goals lists.

    I’ve been having fun making 2021 goals. I split them up into during covid, ‘post’-covid, and any time. It made me feel better about the uncertainty, setting some goals that were particularly suited to these strange times and also some to look forward to that I’m reasonably confident can safely happen in the second half of the year (but then not worrying about them until they’re feasible!)

  • Reply Anne December 14, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    I adopted your quintile system for 2020 and loved it. I’ll definitely try it again for 2021.

  • Reply CBS December 15, 2020 at 2:40 am

    I’ve started using the Year Compass. I don’t think I’ll do all of it, but reflecting on each category for 2020, and thinking ahead to 2021 seemed to be a really helpful process. Stupidly put my planner (Leuchturrm monthly notebook) on my Christmas list so I don’t have it yet so just doing it on the computer.

  • Reply Amanda December 15, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    My word for 2021 is “flourish.” For 2020 it was fire, as in burn away the stuff I didn’t want or need and rise from the ashes intentionally – never have I hit a year so head on! I love the Life is Crafted Goal Planning workbook from Etsy. Talking about it on my Youtube today.

  • Reply Mariana December 16, 2020 at 11:27 am

    Struggling with 2021 goals too and covid is not the main reason. I am just finishing my PhD (handing in thesis this week!) and searching for a job, so I don’t really know what life will look like next year. Not a clue where I’ll be living and what I’ll be doing yet…

    My word of the year 2021 will likely be ‘health’ though. This year with several lockdowns and with the stress of the last year of PhD, I neglected healthy eating and sleeping habits, exercised less (although still fairly regularly), gained weight and I think my blood pressure is starting to look pre-hypertensive and I’m still on my early 30s and want to start planning a pregnancy soon, so need to get all that under control!

  • Reply Brooke December 16, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    My WOT for 2021 is 365 – the number of days I have in the year to make a difference in my life and community. Enough days to give grace for misses, but still a limit to make me make the most of each day.

    As an aside, I’d love to see an update on your Organize 365 course and results. Was it worth the money? Has it made a significant difference in your home? As people look to add simplifying and decluttering in the new year this would be a great topic/followup.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 16, 2020 at 7:18 pm

      Hi Brooke! I didn’t get all the way through but I think it’s a great program and am restarting in Jan! I’ll do more of a review soon.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger December 16, 2020 at 7:18 pm

      And i love your word!!

  • Reply The Evely Pack December 16, 2020 at 7:25 pm

    soooo, goals… i’ve been a *start a list of projects at the beginning of the yr that i want to get done* kind of girl in the past… but you can guess about how many of those were actually completed… so i always kind of tune out when it comes to “goal setting” and the like… but much like my newly re-kindled planner obsession, you’ve inspired me to also use this “goal” aspiration you productive people often speak of 🙂

    what has convinced me is your use of the Nested Goals structure… In making my plan for the day/week I always just kind of *react* to the chaos of my life, just putting out fires as they come up… but I am really loving the review strategy you have… not just inserting to do’s randomly or as they creep up, but consistently referring to the list directly above it in the hierarchy in a way that actually makes progress toward the goal… i know this is like second nature for productive people, and probably is just plain common sense, but breaking down projects to smaller steps just really doesn’t come naturally to me! I very much compartmentalize and tend to want to pick up a project and work on that and that alone until it’s completed… not effective at all (anymore anyway), since the time pockets in a busy mom’s life don’t usually exist in sizes necessary to complete an entire project, big or even small usually.

    So I’m loving that you have really spelled out this method, and in a way I can actually wrap my unorganized mind around! it *actually* seems attainable this way! Gotta tell ya, I’ve listened to the GTD book multiple times, and I love the concept, it sounds great! (in theory), but also out of reach – at least the way he lays it out… maybe it’s easier to maintain, but his initial “set up” is just not a method i can muster – all that to say, when is the SHU method book going to be released??? haha, no pressure 🙂 like you need another item on YOUR to do list!! seriously though, your presentation is so inspiring, i think because of the actual enjoyment you seem to have in your process! it doesn’t sound like work when i hear you talk about it… and it’s not feeling like work when i’m trying to emulate (unlike literally every other organizing anything i have come across!) … it’s SO refreshing! 🙂

    My question is this…. how many goals is too many? cuuuuz I’ve got 27, and that’s just in my personal category, not including the kids :/ I can scooch a decent number to a “someday maybe” list, but really, what do you do when there’s just too much on the list of things to realistically get done? i’ll have to prioritize for sure, but even weeding out the ones that can wait if they need to (hello garage that looks like a hoarders episode!??) it’s still a bit unwieldy… is a 5 year plan a thing when it comes to goals??? (and how many years do i really want to wait to clean out the garage anyway?) I’m sure I’ll feel less like there just isn’t enough time for everything after we are out of the toddler years, but in all reality, the unfinished and/or unmanageable projects list was a pre-kid problem, so I know there are more pieces to this puzzle I’m missing 🙂 Any guidance you have is welcome!! At least I already feel like I’m heading in the right direction – thanks to your inspiration – with my trusty W222 in hand! (now if that cover I ordered from Australia will ever get here!!! haha!!)

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns December 17, 2020 at 11:25 am

    2021 will be a kind of light goal slash goal-less year because we just had a baby and I try to give myself grace and space when going through big changes. But a couple of things I want/need to do is update our will since we had a baby. And now that our son is almost 3, I would like to do a mommy day with him. Hopefully we will have some good options in 2021 since the vaccine is on my he horizon. But even if stuff is still closed for a good chunk of 2021, I am sure I can come up with something like a new-to-us playground!

  • Reply Jenn December 17, 2020 at 2:09 pm

    I looove thinking about my word of the year. My word this year was “abundance” – so it felt ironic when there was suddenly seemingly a scarcity of everything (especially toilet paper!) – but I feel like God taught me a lot about where to find my joy through it. I keep being drawn for opposite words this year. I thought about “strive” then I thought about “rest”…can’t wait to hear what everyone chooses!

  • Reply Kirsty December 8, 2021 at 9:26 am

    Hi there!

    I know you’ve said that you like hearing and reading about other peoples goals, and I am totally with you on that. Do you have recommendations for any podcasts or people/blogs that you like to look at for goal setting lists and ideas?


  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.