Author | Annette Hines

2020 was a year of Chutes and Ladders, yes, like the board game. You move forward a few steps and reach a ladder of success, and if you’re really lucky,  you land on a few ladders in a row. You’re steadily climbing your way to the top with each roll of the dice, but then, inevitably, you take another step and boom — you land on a chute that takes you back to square one. 

Two steps forward, one step back. One step forward, two steps back… It was an ongoing struggle for me to feel like I was making progress at all. However, we shouldn’t wallow in the past.

How do we move forward? How do we make 2021 the best year yet?

Here are my 4 steps to accomplish this.


Before we look towards the future, it’s important to take an inventory of goals passed for both your personal AND professional life.

I have the benefit of being part of a business coaching program that holds me accountable to set goals and then stick to them. In this group, we’ve found that a big part of running our businesses well is by not forgetting our personal lives. We do an exercise every year called migrate life, where we think about what it looks like to have a great life beyond our desires for our businesses. We have to look at both.

When you look back at 2020, analyze what worked well and congratulate yourself for that, and then look at what went awry.

I tend to get really anxious during this “look back” session, and I have to brace myself to review the previous year in a clinical, matter-of-fact way. I try to keep it like a checklist: What got done? What didn’t get done? What got partially done? Where can I give myself some credit for what I DID accomplish?

If you didn’t set any goals last year, I suggest scrolling through your pictures on your phone and social media channels and look at what you’ve accomplished this year, both personally and professionally.

Promise yourself to take the time to acknowledge and celebrate what got done. This is the first step in putting your best foot forward as we embark on all 2021 has in store. 


If you made plans and set specific goals at the beginning of 2020, chances are, COVID-19 interfered with at least some of them. Are those dreams still important enough to carry into 2021?

My advice is to create a list of these goals that you realistically and passionately want to bring with you into the next year, but don’t spend more than 15 minutes on it. If it’s really important to you, you’ll write it down in that time frame.

What goal have you been carrying around for the last year? What goal have you been carrying for many years? Weight loss, financial goals, writing that book or starting that podcast… Decide whether or not it’s on your list for THIS year specifically. And remember, just because it might not make the cut this year doesn’t mean it can’t be added back in the future.


So, by now, you’ve looked at the goals you set last year and transferred all of the most important unaccomplished goals to your list for 2021. 

Now it’s time to determine if these are S.M.A.R.T. goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

This process helps organize your thoughts and make sure you have the best shot at following through with each goal. This exercise makes sure you have a foundation for each dream, so you know what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, what success looks like, how often you will measure your progress, if you will have enough time/means to actively work towards the goal, and what time frame you are giving yourself to accomplish it. 

For example, let’s say your goal is weight loss. If you just decide that one of your new year’s resolutions is to lose 15 pounds and you stop the planning there, it’s not very likely that you will succeed. Setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal would look like this:

  • Specific: Lose 15 pounds by working out with my husband 4 times per week for 30 minutes at a time.
  • Measurable: I want to lose 0.5lbs each week.
  • Attainable: This level weight loss per week is actually achievable, and we have access to a gym, park, and at-home equipment.
  • Relevant: This goal is relevant to me because I gained 15 pounds during quarantine, and I want to return to my pre-COVID weight.
  • Time-Bound: Based on my goal and measure of success, I should be able to lose 15 pounds in 30 weeks.

Now, you have actionable steps written out, measures of success to hold yourself accountable, and a time frame set for yourself instead of an open-ended and vague resolution. 


I want you to visualize yourself doing this same exercise on 12/31/2021. What does it look like to have accomplished all of these goals?

How does this feel? Let that feeling wash over you for a few minutes.

Visualization exercises are amazing because they build courage, combat negativity, gathers energy, and bolsters creativity. It’s very healthy for your psyche. 

At the end of your goal-setting, visualize yourself winning. Then, you will remember why you had these dreams in the first place.

I hope these tips help all of you thrive in 2021. You’ve got this!