Setting Goals for 2021:: Let’s Not

December 2019

I settled in at my favorite booth at my favorite coffee shop, took a sip of my freshly made flat white. I took a minute to savor both the coffee and the absence of my son’s chatter. Bing Crosy’s baritone sounded through the speakers; cheerful lights twinkled all around. After a bite of coffee cake, I opened a brand new notebook and prepared to set out my goals for the new year. 2020 was going to be THE year, I thought. I finally felt like I had the hang of this mom thing, even with #2 arriving in March. This year, I planned to focus more on my writing, maybe find some freelance work. I set out ambitious writing schedules, researched blogs that I thought would be a good fit for me. I organized babysitting schedules with my parents, planned for a conference or two to keep up with my school librarian certification. On top of these goals, I wanted to read more {my goal was 60 books}, work out regularly, and eat better {dang you, pregnancy cravings!} It was going to be a good year. 

Setting Goals for 2021:: Let's Not

Looking back at that planning session feels like it was a million years ago. This year, I accomplished exactly none of the above things. I submitted zero new blog posts, I attended zero conferences. I did not follow a writing schedule. I didn’t even see my parents, who we normally see 2-3 times a week, until late summer. I did read a lot {47 books}, but I definitely did not work out regularly and my post partum diet consisted of a lot of bread. And lest you think, “Well, at least you accomplished bread baking!”, I did not. I merely benefited from the fruits of my mom’s labor. If it wasn’t for my daughter, who was born two days before everything shut down, I’d be ready to call this year a complete wash. This year has been hard. In one way or another, we have all been affected by COVID. We’re lonely, anxious, and tired. I’m ready to move on to 2021.

December 2020

Yesterday, I sat down in my favorite chair in my children’s toy room. My favorite mug sat on the side table, steaming with freshly brewed coffee. My children were, for once, playing quietly together. I again opened a fresh notebook and prepared to set some goals for the new year. 

My first instinct? I didn’t accomplish any of the things I set out to do. I was so unproductive. I should double down on my efforts for this year!

I imagine I’m not alone. I think {I hope!} it’s normal to want to make up for the dumpster fire that was 2020 in the coming year. Realistically though, January 1, 2021 is going to look much the same as December 31, 2020. We’ll still be in a pandemic. I still won’t feel comfortable going to a coffee shop to write. I still won’t have regular childcare like I did pre-COVID. I still won’t be able to attend an in-person conference. 

Feeling frustrated, I mentally threw up my hands. 2021 was looking like another wasted year, and it hadn’t even started yet. 

And then I had to laugh at myself. Here I was, feeling frustrated over “failed” goals during a global pandemic, and I was essentially setting myself up to miss the mark yet again. Could I accomplish all of those things with a lot of planning and strategy? Maybe. Probably. Do I want to stress out over it? 

So, I’ve decided to forego goal setting for this next year. If you are, as my mom likes to say, waiting for your engraved invitation, I encourage you to do the same. Set aside productivity this year. Place those SMART goals on the backburner, let them simmer for a while. If you must set goals, make them with your mental health in mind. Right now, intensive workouts make me anxious, so instead, I take long walks around the neighborhood during my son’s quiet time. It is a decidedly unproductive hour:: I’m not torching calories, I’m not learning anything new, and I’m not cleaning my perpetually messy house. But I pray the rosary with the sun on my face, and I feel at peace. 

In previous years, my goal setting motto was Go Big or Go Home! Well, this new year, I’m going home. Here’s to 2021, mamas:: may it be uneventful. May it be quiet. May it be simple.

May it be hopeful. 


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