Want to have your best year ever in 2021? Don’t leave it to chance. Read my guide to goal setting for bloggers in 2021, dream big and achieve those dreams!
Ok, so I’ll admit it – I’m a big fan of setting goals and making plans.
In fact, January 1st every year is one of my favourite days.
While everyone else is nursing hangovers, complaining about how much holiday weight they’ve put on and feeling depressed about the weather, I am excited, fired up and ready to go!
I feel like the whole of the new year is like a great big white canvass – ripe with possibilities, full of hope and super-duper exciting!!
But the truth is…
…this big white canvass / endless possibilities / anything can happen thing is not just true for me, it’s true for everyone – including YOU!
There is so much potential in every year, so much fun to be had and so many dreams that could actually happen.
The trouble is that so many of us (my younger self included) drift through life and, as a result, those endless dreams / possibilities / goals to be grasped sort of just never quite happen.
A depressing thought
But the good news is there is another alternative… and that is to:
- SET GOALS for your year
- Work out how to ACHIEVE those goals
- Actually TAKE STEPS to make those goals a reality
This is how I have lived my life for the last few years and it’s how I have achieved so much in blogging in just a few short years.
I’ll let you into a little secret – I wasn’t originally going to call this blog ‘Productive Blogging’. I originally planned to call it ‘Purposeful Blogging’ – I wanted to call it that because I believe being purposeful about what we do is the way to achieve success in blogging but also a happier, more fulfilled life.
Think about it…
…if you were to sit down for a few minutes and actually think about what you want to get out of blogging (and life – they are usually so intertwined) and then break down those goals and figure out how to make those things actually happen, AND (this is the crucial bit) actually take steps to make those things happen, you are going to have an AMAZING 2021!!
Guys, it’s time to get EXCITED, very EXCITED, because the truth is 2021 can be anything you want it to be!
Read on for my tips on goal setting for bloggers in 2021, dream big and achieve those dreams!
How to make 2021 AWESOME
To make 2021 as awesome as you can dream, you are going to have to put in some work, but it will be well worth it. This is what you are going to need to do:
This whole process should take you LESS THAN AN HOUR today. (Plus a bit of time down the road for quarterly reviews).
Think about it
One hour could be the difference between 2021 being YOUR BEST YEAR EVER or 2021 being a bit ‘meh’.
That’s worth one hour of your time, right?
2021 Best Year Ever FREE WORKSHEETS
To help you get the most out of 2021 I have created a collection of FREE 2021 goal setting worksheets! There is a worksheet for each activity in my 2021 goal planning process. So hurry up and download them so you can get set to have your BEST YEAR EVER!
Step 1: Visualise – what would you like December 2021 to look like?
OK, so the first step in the process is probably the most fun
I want you to close your eyes for a couple of minutes and visualise what you want next year to look like. And, in particular, what you want December 2021 to look like.
In your ideal world what would you have achieved by December 2021? Where will you be? What will your life look like? What will your blog look like?
Use your imagination and allow yourself to dream big
A word of caution – I say ‘dream big’ – and what I mean by that is to imagine how great things could be – don’t limit yourself at this stage, don’t allow doubts or ‘but I could never do that’ voices to creep in, but at the same time don’t go too crazy – avoid thinking things like, by next year I want to have won the lottery, be president/prime minister and have solved world peace, famine and climate change!
Don’t put this visualisation off until another day, do it right now!
Stuck for ideas?
Here’s a few to get you started…
- Money: how much money will your blog have made by December 2021? What ways will your blog earn money? How will having that money change your life?
- Content: what sort of content will you produce in 2021? Will your blog take a new direction? What content will be updated? Will you start creating video content/a podcast/Facebook lives in 2021?
- Email: will 2021 be the year when you finally get to grips with email? Will you create an opt-in? A welcome sequence? A new style of newsletter? Send newsletters more frequently? How many email subscribers will you have by the end of 2021?
- Design: what will your blog look like by the end of 2021? Do you see 2021 being a year when you redesign your blog? Get a new blog theme? Get a new logo? Get proper business cards?
- Products: will you create a new product in 2021? If so what? Maybe an online course? Or will 2021 finally be the year you land a book deal?
- Sponsored Posts: what sponsored posts would you like to do in 2021? What opportunities would you like to get? What sort of fee would you like to be able to charge?
- Life: what will your personal life look like by the end of 2021? Will you have earned enough to quit your day job by the end of 2021? Will your OH be able to quit their job? Will 2021 finally be the year when you lose weight / get organised / learn Mandarin?
- Productivity: How organised will you be by the end of 2021? Will you have a dedicated work space? What systems would you like to have put in place? Will you start a content calendar? Will you automate your social media? Will you be able to employ a VA?
- Stats: How many visitors will your blog be getting by the end of 2021? How many followers will you have on social media?
Give yourself 2-5 minutes, with your eyes shut, to just imagine what December 2021 will look like!
Step 2 Brain dump – all the things you’d like to achieve in 2021
Once you’ve opened your eyes, grab yourself a blank piece of paper – or the BRAIN DUMP worksheet from my 2021 BEST YEAR EVER printables and get scribbling – write down all those things you imagined in your visualisation and everything else that comes to you. Don’t hold back. Dream big. Now is not the time to prioritise or be overly realistic – that comes later.
Use the questions above to help you
Here are a few examples from my brain dump from a few years back to give you an example:
- Start a blog about blogging productively
- Get ads on easypeasyfoodie.com
- Double my income
- Learn how to do video
- Update all my old content with new photos and better SEO
- Design refresh for easypeasyfoodie.com
- Redo my media kit for easypeasyfoodie.com
- Get a new computer
- Get Office 365
Give yourself 10-15 minutes to do this (pro tip – set a timer!) and as much paper as you need and just go for it. Just write anything and everything. The time for refinement and priorities is later!
Step 3: Gather the threads – which goals fit together?
Now take a look at what you’ve written. You’ll probably notice some goals which fit together nicely.
Perhaps you’ve jotted down ‘design new logo’, ‘get new theme’ ‘get new business cards’ and ‘redo homepage/sidebar’. It makes sense to lump these together as one goal called ‘redesign’ as they will all need doing together.
Or perhaps you’ve written ‘learn to do video’, ‘start YouTube channel’ and ‘figure out how to do Facebook lives and do them regularly’. Again, these could be combined into one goal called ‘Video’. It makes much more sense to do these things all together at one time, rather than scattered throughout the year.
Step 4: Take stock – what do you really, really want to achieve in 2021?
Take a look at your brain dump again and ask yourself, ‘if I could only do ONE of these things in 2021, which would it be?’
Grab a new piece of paper and write at the top of it ‘Goals for 2021’ (or, even better, use the free worksheet), then write that one thing at the top.
Look again at your brainstorm and ask yourself, ‘OK, if I get that first thing done and now I can only pick one more thing, what would it be?
On your new list write that thing down under the first thing
Now look at your brainstorm again and pick a third thing to write on your ‘Goals for 2021’ list, keep going until you have 10 things. Then stop.
Take one final look at your brain dump. Is there anything else that really has to be done in 2021? If it’s a small thing, do you think it might fit within one of your other projects? If it’s a large thing, what can you bump off the ‘Goals for 2021’ list to make room for it?
Then look at the rest of the ideas on your brain dump and decide if they are A) just too crazy or B) good ideas just not for this year.
Take the B’s and write them on a new list called ‘Goals for 2022’. This is a very small step, but it will make all the difference to your mindset. Anytime during 2021 when you think ‘I really ought to be doing XYZ’ – you can think, ‘it’s on my 2022 list’. It’s a tiny shift in thinking but it makes a BIG difference to how you feel about your workload. Now you don’t feel the weight of #allthethings and instead you know they are going to get done, just that they are not the priority for this year.
Step 5: Arrange your goals – what needs to be done when?
Now is the time to decide in WHAT ORDER you are going to tackle your goals. It might be that it makes sense to tackle them in the order you have written them, but it might not.
There may be things that are seasonal or things which need to be done in a certain order. Or it may just be that after taking a look at those 10 goals for 2021 as a whole, some seem more important to be done in the early part of the year, and some better left until later.
Try and map out roughly WHEN you are going to achieve your goals
I like to assign a month to each of my goals, which is why I pick 10. That’s 10 months minus August because it’s the school holidays and I know I won’t have enough time to work on my goals then and minus December, which is also a busy time and it’s the time when I want to get working on my goals for the next year.
Start a new list and call it ‘Monthly Goals for 2021’ (or use my ready made ‘Monthly Goals for 2021’ worksheet), then assign a month to each goal according to what makes most sense: for example, your list could look like this:
January: Blog Redesign (new theme, new logo, new media kit)
February: Video (take a video course, learn how to do FB live, create YouTube Channel)
March: Take new photos for old content
April: Update photos + SEO on old content
June: Get new computer / Get Office 365 / Transfer and organise files
July: Email (move to ConvertKit, learn how to use it, start sending a PROPER weekly newsletter, create welcome sequence)
September: Affiliate Marketing (research affiliate schemes, apply to join them, add links to existing blog posts, create new blog posts and promote them)
October: Create Product #1 (research product ideas/needs, write draft copy)
November: Create Product #2 (edit copy, design product, launch and market product)
December: Off/Planning for 2022
Step 6: Evaluate your plan – be realistic, can you get all this done in 1 year?
The next step is to evaluate your plan and work out if it is REALISTIC.
First, have a good look at what you’ve planned in, and for when
Does the order make sense? Or would it make more sense to do things in a slightly different order.
For example, looking at my example monthly goals above, I notice that all the things that are going to make money (affiliate marketing and creating a product to sell) are in the last part of the year. To me, it would make sense to bring at least one of those things forward as then there is more opportunity to make money in the year.
Second, have a good look at what you have planned out and decide what is realistic
Can each project be realistically achieved in 1 month? You will almost certainly conclude that some projects will take more than one month, while other projects may take just a couple of weeks. Rearrange your projects accordingly.
For example, in the example plan above, I have only allocated 1 month for update photos + SEO on old content – but it’s more than likely that this will take more than one month.
On the other hand, I have allocated a whole month for taking new photos, but perhaps this job could be done in 1 or 2 weeks.
So it might make more sense to put it like this:
March: Take new photos / Update photos + SEO on old content (start)
April: Update photos + SEO on old content (finish)
Step 7: Jumpstart 2021 – plan in some quick wins for January
Another genius hack is to plan in some quick wins for January. Getting a number of small goals ticked off early in the year will set you up for success in the rest of the year.
You might find one of your goals is perfect for this…
For example, the one I have above to get a new computer/Office 365 and transfer/organise files – this is realistically achievable in just a few days and yet would give a great feeling of accomplishment. It might even mean February’s goals could be started early!
Alternatively, you might find inspiration from your original brain dump
Are there a number of small goals there that could be lumped together as a project and completed in the first weeks of January? It could be as simple as spending January setting up the systems you are going to use in the rest of the year – a content calendar, perhaps or taking steps to automate social media.
Getting your systems set up in January makes a lot of sense as this will streamline the whole of the rest of the year and make achieving everything else simpler and less time consuming.
Step 8: Finalise – make final adjustments to your monthly goals
So now you have evaluated your monthly goals, taken into account ‘reality’ in terms of how long activities might take and planned in some quick wins for January, it’s time to finalise your monthly goals.
Rewrite your ‘Monthly Goals for 2021’ taking into account any changes you have made. So my revised plan might look like this:
January: Get new computer / Get Office 365 / Transfer and organise files
February: Affiliate Marketing (research affiliate schemes, apply to join them, add links to existing blog posts, create new blog posts and promote them)
March: Take new photos / Update photos + SEO on old content (start)
April: Update photos + SEO on old content (finish)
June: Blog Redesign (new theme, new logo, new media kit)
July: Email (move to ConvertKit, learn how to use it, start sending PROPER newsletter, create welcome sequence)
September: Video (take a video course, learn how to do FB live, create YouTube channel)
October: Create Product #1 (Research new product ideas/needs, write copy)
November: Create Product #2 (edit copy, design product, launch and market product)
December: Off/Planning for 2022.
Step 9: Activate – turn your monthly goals into actions
Of course, having a list of monthly goals is a bit pointless if you don’t turn those goals into actions. You can do this one of two ways:
- You can just plan how you are going to achieve January’s goal now. Then plan how you will achieve February’s goal at the end of January, March at the end of February and so on.
- OR you can plan how you will achieve all your goals now.
Which option you take will depend largely on how much time you have right now, how much you like planning and how easy it is to plan for these goals in advance.
It doesn’t really matter which option you take…
…but I will say option 2 has a couple of distinct advantages.
The first is that, having made plans, each goal will feel less daunting. The second is that you will be able to quickly identify any activities which have to be done prior to the month you have allocated.
For example, if you have allocated ‘improve SEO on old posts’ to March, you might consider adding ‘learn more about SEO’ or ‘get Yoast plugin’ to January or February’s actions so you can hit the ground running in March.
Likewise, if you have planned to take a video course in September, you might think it sensible to research video courses and maybe buy some new video equipment in the months leading up to September – and you might want to start putting some money aside each month to pay for it too!
Whichever way you decide to do things you need to create an ACTION PLAN for each goal
Grab a new sheet of paper and write the month, the goal and the words ACTION PLAN (better still, print off my ready-made Monthly Action Plan worksheet) . Then start jotting down all the things you will need to do in order to achieve that goal.
For example, say your goal for January is to start making money through affiliate links, your action plan might look something like this:
January Action Plan
Goal: Start Earning Money Through Affiliate Links
1) Research affiliate schemes
2) Apply to affiliate schemes
3) Add affiliate links to all existing posts, where appropriate
4) Write 4 new posts which aim to generate affiliate sales for the 4 highest paying affiliate schemes
5) Promote these 4 posts using social media and Pinterest
6) Create a spreadsheet to track monthly income from these affiliate links
I don’t know about you, but I think that looks achievable for 1 month. And it only took me a couple of minutes to write that plan. You could easily have all your action plans written in under half an hour!
But if you don’t have time right now, at least write out the action plan for January and put a date in your diary for late January when you are going to write the action plan for February.
When your January action plan is written, print it off and stick it somewhere where you can see it. When you come to do your weekly and daily planning, make sure you are including activities from your action plan every day.
But I don’t have time!
If you are feeling like you never have time to do any of your actions from your Monthly Action Plan, question why that is. After all, your action plan was carefully created to ensure you achieve all your goals for 2021. If your time is filled up with ‘other’ activities, why are they there? Are they important activities which must take precedence over your goals (e.g. your website has just crashed) or is it just ‘busy work’ which is not actually contributing to your goals at all. In which case get rid of it.
I find bloggers especially guilty of putting things like emails and social media ahead of actually doing the work that will really help them achieve their goals!! If that’s you, it’s time to stop!
Step 10: Evaluate – monitor your goals throughout the year
It would be nice to think that going through this planning and goal setting process is all the planning you will have to do for the year. However, in all likelihood it won’t be: things will change, projects will overrun, and new projects will emerge that are (or at least seem to be) more important than the ones you planned to do in 2021.
This is why it’s really important to keep monitoring and evaluating your goals, pivoting as required to keep 2021 on track to be your best year ever. Here are a few things you might want to think about…
A project overruns
Even with your best endeavours one or more of your projects is likely to overrun. If that happens, the best thing to do is to take stock at the end of the month and make a decision about what should happen next. Broadly speaking you have 2 options:
1) Decide you’ve done enough on that project this year and move on to the next project
This is a good option if the project is kind of ongoing in nature and you know you will have to come back to it year after year: things like ‘get more followers on social media’, ‘update old content’, ‘refresh blog design’ and ‘grow subscribers’. All these things are not discrete projects that can ever truly be finished. So you might decide that, although you haven’t achieved everything you wanted in this area, you’ve spent enough time on this goal for this year and it’s time to move on to other things.
If this is the case, put a note about it on your 2022 list and move on to the action plan for the next month.
2) Finish the project and adjust the rest of the monthly goals accordingly
Alternatively, you might decide that this project needs to be finished now. In which case you will need to adjust your remaining monthly goals. You should look at your remaining monthly goals and decide what to take off your plate for this year. What could realistically wait until 2022? Or could one of the projects you have planned for later in the year be shortened.
If this is the case, rewrite your monthly goals to take into account these changes.
It’s my experience that it is far better to tackle things like this, than to just push everything back.
If you push everything back, you are constantly feel like you are behind on your plan and that feeling makes you less motivated and productive.
Taking stock, making decisions and adjusting your plan, makes you feel on track and in control and ultimately this will keep you more motivated and productive.
A new project comes up that seems more important
It’s almost inevitable that, during the year something else will come up that is (or at least seems to be) super important and which you feel should take precedence over everything you’ve already got planned.
If this happens, the best thing you can do is evaluate this new project in light of the monthly goals/projects you’ve already got planned. Tell yourself if you do this new thing, one of the other things has to come off. This will firstly help you discern if this new project is really that important (or if you just have shiny new object syndrome) and secondly this will help you make a practical decision as to how to fit this new project in.
Again, if you decide to proceed with this new project, you should rewrite your ‘Monthly Goals for 2021’ to reflect this, and the changes you’ve made to accommodate this. If you have had to remove a project from your monthly goals list, add it onto the list for 2022 (assuming it’s still important to you.)
If you decide this new project is ‘not for now’ add it to your list for 2022 and continue with the plan you originally made.
Even if everything goes swimmingly (and especially if it doesn’t), it’s good to conduct a quarterly review of your monthly goals.
Look at the quarter just gone and as yourself:
- Did I achieve everything I set out to?
- What went well?
- What went badly?
- What do I still have left to do?
Then look at the months on your Monthly Goals for 2021 that still exist and ask yourself:
- Are these still the goals I should be focussing on?
- Has anything has changed, such as a project which is now unnecessary?
- Do I need to include any new goals/projects? And if you what should I get rid of?
- Is everything still in the right order? Or do things need to be switched around?
It may be that nothing needs to be changed, but it’s still a good practice to review each quarter and plan for the next one.
If you prefer, you could do this review process monthly instead of quarterly. (Or even do both, if you are feeling extra keen!)
Either way you will never regret setting and evaluating your goals on a regular basis!
2021 – your best year yet?
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and found them useful.
If you haven’t already, I really encourage you to go through each of these steps to set goals and plans for yourself for 2021. It will only take an hour, or so, of your time and it will set you up for 2021 being your best year EVER!!
Have you already set your goals? I’d love to hear what you have planned for 2021!
Let me know in the comments below, or over in the Productive Blogging Community Facebook Group.
I look forward to cheering you on in 2021!!
And don’t forget to bag your free worksheets!
How to create a content plan for your blog in 2021
How to turn your blogging dreams into an actionable plan
How to turn your blog into a profitable business in 2021
How to get more done in less time on your blog
11 easy ways to make 2021 your best year EVER!
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