my single goal for 2021

Doing the inner work – my goal for 2021

my single goal for 2021

This is my sixth year setting a single goal for the incoming year. To set my goal I have a five step simple process that helps me look backwards to learn from the past, then look forward to what I want to achieve. And again this year I was surprised at how much this process can unearth about what I am feeling and what is truly important to me.

If you are one of those people who says “goal setting isn’t for me” I would still highly encourage to go through the first three steps – you will learn a considerable amount about yourself, your values, your needs and the person you want to be. I will share the key learnings from my five step single goal setting process this year.

1. Review the previous 12 months asking these questions

In step one I asked myself the following questions:

  • What were your successes?
  • What didn’t work out?
  • What made you happy?
  • What made you unhappy?
  • What did you want to do more of?

You can see my answers in full here but I found writing answers to these questions quite cathartic. Prior to writing my review, I honestly was not sure what my goal for 2021 would look like. I didn’t finish this step knowing the exact form of my goal, but I knew what the underlying focus will be.

Writing answers to these questions gave me clarity. Writing answers to these questions made me see the gaps I want to fill and it definitely made me see what I value most. The slower pace of 2020 allowed me to examine some of my behaviours, actions, thoughts and emotions. I think it is always possible to become a better human and it made me realise I have a substantial way to go to be the person I want to be.

2. Preview the coming 12 months asking these questions

In step two we begin looking forward at what we know is coming in the new year. 2020 has certainly showed us that we can never truly know what is coming, but there are some knows for us:

  • What is on the calendar for you?
  • What is on the calendar for your partner?
  • What ages and stages are the kids at?
  • What other commitments are on the horizon?

2021 is a year that sees our family into a new stage. We no longer have a child in primary school and for the first time in seven years, I will only have to manage paper work and admin for two schools (instead of three)! We have some kids going through big years – one in year 7, one in year 9, one in year 12, 2nd year uni and the eldest looking for his first full time job post uni.

I have deliberately limited pre-booking many personal commitments for 2021 as I want to keep some of the slower pace of 2020. I am a year seven parent rep and I want to complete a marathon well. Phil has a key running event in February plus local football commitments through out winter.

3. List everything you want to do in 2021

The next step is to list all of the things you want to do in the year, knowing that it won’t be possible to do them all, but when you list everything that is floating around in your head in then lets you ask these questions about the list:

  • Are there any overarching themes in the list?
  • What images come to mind when reading over the list?

There were two notable points about my list for this year:

  1. It was that it was much shorter than previous years.
  2. It didn’t read like a to do list full of tasks, but areas of my personality and behaviour that I wanted to change or work on.

Here are a few of the items that were on my list:

  • To be calmer
  • To be kinder
  • To me more present
  • To smile more
  • To deepen friendships
  • To spend more time on my faith
  • To keep the pace slower

Images that came to mind as I read over the list were ocean waters, shining silver, possibility and calmness.

4. Craft your single goal statement

After taking these steps it was pretty clear to me that my goal for 2021 needed to revolve around doing what is referred to often as the “inner work”. Carl Jung who is most famous for his work in developing the field of analytical psychology developed a concept of individuation which is what I mean when I refer to inner work.

At its most fundamental level, inner work is the attention to and cultivation of one’s inner life….To do our inner work is to become familiar with the world within. It is to continue to grow and develop emotionally, psychologically, interpersonally, spiritually, and creatively. It is to tend to the wounds of the past, which are the inevitable result of living and loving, and to seek healing for them. 

And it is to cultivate a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives and our work. 


My single goal statement for 2021 is as follows:

Do the inner work to be able to give more to those around me.

5. Creating habits to support my goal

habits to support my goal

The single goal now becomes my north star for the year:

  1. It becomes my mantra for the year. One single thing I can repeat to myself and focus on through the happy and more challenging times through out the year.
  2. It acts as a decision making framework. When presented with opportunities or challenges I ask myself if I take them on will it help me achieve my goal?
  3. It prevents me from feeling overwhelmed by competing priorities. Previous years I have set myself many goals and inevitably at some point in the year I feel torn between where I should spend my time, energy and attention.

But I need to know exactly what it is I am going to do on a daily basis to achieve my goal. I need to establish habits that become part of my regular routine that are aligned with and will ensure I meet my goal. There will be other things I do along the way that will move me forward but the habits below will create a solid foundation for me to keep on track.

HabitConnection to goal - Do the inner work to be able to give more to those around me.Quote - “Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” - Carl Jung
Meditate in the morning for at least 20 minutesI have been meditating for a number of years now, but lately it is often left to the end of the day and I listen to a guided meditation before I go to sleep.

To reap the real benefits of meditation I want to practice in the first half of the day, non guided and for a minimum of 20 minutes. In this time emotions, feelings and issues will come up and I will need to learn to not react to it, simply observe it and focus on the meditation session.
“The more regularly and the more deeply you meditate, the sooner you will find yourself acting always from a center of peace.” - J. Donald Walters
Participate in a weekly faith based activityI have a strong personal faith but feel that it needs a recharge and refresh. Immersing myself in more faith based activities will help me achieve this and to examine my spirituality at a deeper level.“Faith is an oasis in the heart which will never be reached by the caravan of thinking.” - Khalil Gibran
Write in a gratitude journal dailyFor some reason I stopped my gratitude journal process in the latter half of 2020 and I have noticed its absence. Part of my journal entry in the evening is to note down how I could have made the day even better. Reflecting each day on how I can improve is an important part of doing the inner work.“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.” - Christina Baldwin
Learn and speak Phil's love language well and dailyI read The 5 Love Languages® by Dr. Gary Chapman a few years ago and loved the concept. For some reason I never got Phil to do the quiz and work out his love language. I will re-read the book and get us both to do the quiz .

I will then focus on making sure I am speaking Phil's love language on a daily basis.
“Love is a choice you make everyday.” - Gary Chapman

My previous single goal statements

If you are after some goal inspiration, here are the single goal statements I have worked toward and achieved (with varying success!) over the last few years:

  • 2015 – Be a planned and present mother to my beautiful kids
  • 2016 – Create space in my life for creativity and calm
  • 2017 – To invest in my relationships with family, friends and community to bring joy and connection
  • 2018 – Detach from the old and embrace the new to nurture a family spirit of adventure
  • 2019 – Nurture new routines to re-energise, re-invigorate and create personal growth
  • 2020 – Simplify daily life to spend more time with family and friends

What is your goal for 2021?