This article was originally published in the Kansas City Star on January 21, 2021
Usually, as we approach the end of the year, people start talking about “turning the page” and “putting last year in the rearview mirror.” But it’s likely that 2020 is going to stick with all of us a bit longer than a typical year might. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Life will continue to be very different for the foreseeable future. As you prepare for personal, career and financial success in 2021, these steps may help you:
1. What have your learned?
Covid-19 will be inextricably linked to your memories of 2020. However, if you dig a little deeper, you might find that certain challenges were already simmering before the pandemic turned up the heat.
Perhaps your small business’ digital pivot revealed that your customer base was too small. An interruption in your household income might have made you and your spouse realize that you haven’t been putting enough money into your emergency savings account. As your teenager grappled with paying college tuition for a less-than-ideal college experience, you might have realized that your child’s deeper challenge was vague career goals.
Identify two things you learned personally and professionally from 2020.
2. Why is this important?
Dig deep to understand why the lessons learned are important to you. Why did you select these? In fact, you might discover that more family meals and family game nights brought into focus the importance of your family. You may have realized the elements in your job where you truly flourish and thrive. You may see clearly how your career fits in with your overall life. Asking yourself -“Why is this important to me” – connects you to your values and motivations. Without this connection, you will be less committed to “to-dos” for the upcoming year.
Think about two things for which you are now even more grateful.
3. What are your priorities for 2021?
We’ve all had to deal with a myriad of challenges and changes in 2020. Those experiences probably had a profound impact on the goals you set for yourself way back in January. Perhaps, due to social distancing or work displacement, some goals aren’t very realistic right now. Or perhaps social justice movements and community needs inspired new goals that jumped to the top of your list.
The space between the things we want to do and the things we can do in this environment might feel overwhelming. But if you try to do too much in a short space of time, you’ll only scatter minimal progress across targets that you won’t be any closer to hitting. Focus your attention on one or two practical goals that will give you the most fulfillment – based on “Your Why”. File away any goals that don’t make the cut for your 2021 game plan.
Write down “Your Why” and the one personal goal that is most important.
4. Align your resources:
Your resources include your time, talent, and money. Align these with your priorities above.
As you build your spending plan for the year are you spending on things that will create the experiences you want? Perhaps you had to postpone travel and now you want to do that. Or remodeling your home or outdoor living area as you’ve spent more time there with family and friends. Have you built your emergency fund to withstand pay decreases or temporary job loss?
For your career and job, what 1 or 2 things do you want to accomplish in 2021? Perhaps it’s to re-structure your job, to do more of the things you excel at; perhaps it’s time to look for the next role to continue to grow and advance in your career. Or for those whose jobs were lost, take time to understand your transferable skills, your interests and experiences that make you valuable.
Commit to at least one job or career goal for 2021.
As you look ahead, try to set aside the pandemic, elections, and market worries. Covid-19 might have altered your path a little bit, but you can stay on track by making some adjustments to your financial plan.
You can’t do it all – focus on a small number of priorities and put your time and energy into those.
5. Who can help you?
Having accountability partners helps in order to get important things done in our lives. Having mentors and coaches for your work life helps you through challenging times and reach for your goals. Knowing that your running buddy is waiting for you on the trail will get you out of the house even when your bed is especially cozy. And whatever you’re trying to get better at, you can find groups of likeminded strivers online who will inspire you to write more, cook healthier meals, sand down the rough edges, and learn the next three chords.
Likewise, for your financial health, look to a Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) professional to help you clarify your priorities and make sound financial decisions to bring to life “Your Why” in 2021.
Joni Lindquist, MBA, CFP® is a Principal with Aspyre Wealth Partners®. She helps clients Master What’s Next®, integrating their career, life and money. At Aspyre Wealth Partners, we help successful people Master What’s Next® – whatever phase of life they are in. If you are ready to get organized and make your money work for you, let’s get to know each other and get started!