Goals How Tos + DIY

2021 Goal Setting Template + A Worksheet for Personal SMART Goals

2021 Goal Setting Template

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Love or hate New Year’s resolutions, personal goal setting is the way to go. The idea of “resolutions” has never been as interesting to me as goals, challenges, adventures, and lists of epic proportions. My annual “end of the year musing and scheming” arrives soon. And I’m excited to take a day or two to reflect on 2020 and do a year-end review with my 2021 goal setting worksheet. Before I get carried away with planning for next year. So today I’m sharing my updated personal goal setting template, that I’ve been doing for the last nine years. 2020 has definitely been the unplannable wildcard year. But even though life has been unimaginably different this year, I’m still looking at my goals, just with more flexibility and maybe a dark sense of humor?

I’ve been asked for a bit of the process behind my personal goals planning. So I’ve shared an example of my Yearly Planning spreadsheet – freshly updated for 2021!

2021 Goal Setting Template:

My goal setting spreadsheet is a bit more detailed than the worksheet. I like it for tracking goals, listing next action steps, and doing a monthly review of my progress. The spreadsheet also has some automatic formatting for doing SMART goals with using a “red, yellow, green” style completion.

And just like the last few years, here’s my spreadsheet version of the goal setting template. You can have the template for a “Pay what you want” price. After years of giving this template away, the resources it takes to deliver the template are no longer free. Here’s to experimenting in 2021!

After downloading the Excel spreadsheet, you can open or upload it to use in Google Spreadsheets (or just use in Excel or Open Office).

Free Goal Setting Worksheet:

Here is a printable goal setting worksheet to get started with personal goals. New this year for 2021 as a printable pdf! You can download and print the pdf here. Looking for the spreadsheet? Keep reading!

goal setting worksheet printable pdf

Tips for using a Goal Setting Template:

1. Make it an event!

For the last few years, I’ve combined my annual goal setting time with a last minute close-to-home post-Christmas getaway. However you decide to do it, set aside a few hours. Get out of your usual space and routine and get thinking with your goal setting template.

2. Recap the year

To start, I like to ask myself a few questions:

  • What went great this year?  Look at last year’s goals to remind yourself, your calendar, Facebook – whatever is going to jog your memory. My list includes all kinds of things – like big goals (started freelancing!), some stats (ran 320+ miles), more vague things (got healthier).
  • What didn’t I accomplish this year, that I had wanted to? Hahaha, oh 2020! The point of this step isn’t to be hard on yourself. Consider what didn’t happen, think about why it didn’t happen (because you didn’t focus on it? because you tried and failed? because you changed your mind about wanting it?), and then move on. For example: I didn’t blog as frequently as I wanted to, and I didn’t start a book club etc.
  • What do I want to happen 2021? What do you want to be celebrating next year at this time?

3. Accountability

I like the idea of posting all of my goals for the world to see for accountability. But some are also personal. So while I’ll mention a few here on my blog, I keep a Google Doc with all my goals. Whatever your system is, share it with someone (start with your BFF!)

4. The BIG picture: Life Goals

Some of my yearly goals tie into other lists (like in the past, my 30 Before 30 list. And some were new goals, bigger goals, smaller goals, BHAGs (big hairy audacious goal), etc.

After reading The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte a few years ago, I added in thinking about how I want to feel. She calls them core desired feelings. And not just how you want to feel, but what you can do in specific areas of your life to get those 3-5 “core” feelings that drive you. It sounds a little hokey, but adding this in definitely gets you thinking up more ideas of what you really want for the year. And not just writing down ambitious goals that seem like what you should do. What are your bigger life goals and what are you doing on a yearly, monthly, weekly, daily basis to work towards them?

5. Pick a theme or word for the year

I’ve seen some people have a theme for their year or a one word description, which I’ve done some years. Other years, I’ve selected a quote. 2011 was “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” — Rumi. This quote really covered the different areas of my life from work to personal to fitness. And I added it to my chalkboard wall in my home to remind myself all year. 2016 was all about being PRESENT. Maybe we can just pretend our 2020 word was PANDEMIC.

6. Areas of Life for Goal Setting

I like to break out my goals into broad categories. In previous years, I’ve done really specific categories (eg. job, fitness, learning, money, family, blog etc). Then, the last few years I went a little wider with the general themes. For example: Health (Fitness/Service/Spiritual), Wealth (Job/Income/Blog/Financial), Happiness (Travel/Local/Home/Relationships/Learning). This year, I’ve expanded on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, by including a few more memory jogging categories to inspire ideas.

Personal Goals Examples:
Wealth: Livelihood & Lifestyle
– career, fashion, home, influence, money, possessions, resources, style etc.
Health: Body, Wellness, & Spirituality – fitness, food, mental health, relaxation, self-care, sensuality, soul, spirituality etc.
Happiness: Creativity, Home, Learning, Local, Relationships, Service, & Travel – art, causes, community, education, family, friendship, gifts, hobbies, home life, music, romance, travel, volunteering etc.

7. Make them SMART: Do what by when?

Just like typical goals, I try to follow the GTD method to my year-end personal planning. I will… {do what?} {by when} and the {next action step} is. With a  {monthly/quarterly review area} and {final review}.

Example: I will put $500 per month in my IRA for $6000 total 2021 contribution by April 15 2022 (tax time). Next step: Look at my budget and set up an automatic transfer money from my savings account to my IRA account.

Example: I will list my place on AirBnB by July 1. And try to rent my place for the dates of planning a next big trip. Next step: somewhat COVID dependent, but look at current studio listings in Portland for ideas and make notes.

Example: I will take a cooking class in 2021. Next step: Look at online cooking class options.

Example: I will focus on fitness each month and moving my body every day. It doesn’t have to be the same every day or month. For January, I will commit to the 30 Days of Yoga challenge and February I will commit to spinning at home – doing at least one 20 minute spin class 2-3x a week. Next step: track yoga classes on my kitchen chalkboard wall.

I used to only do a quarterly review of where I’m at on my goals. However, I found that it was way too easy to have three months go by and forget about my “priorities”. So now I jump into Google Calendar (my calendar app of choice), and set a recurring calendar appointment for the last Sunday of every month. This way, I actually look at my goals on a monthly basis . Then I can gauge where I’m at or if my goal needs readjusting. Happy planning and I wish you a marvelous new year!

Have you used a goal setting worksheet or template?

How to do an annual personal review - goals setting template

This goal setting template post was originally published back in 2011, and has been updated for 2021.