I know what you’re thinking. 2020 was so crazy and so unpredictable that now it seems pointless to set goals for a whole year. You might have even decided not to have any goals this year. You’re not alone.
I could just tell you that there’s a key item on the list that we always forget. It’s resilience. The human capacity to recover quickly from difficult situations. The capacity of redrafting plans from scratch when we need it. Adapt to new and unpredicted situations. Accept changes when our goals do not look realistic or feasible anymore. As if some of them ever did. We never add resilience to the plan, and we should. But it’s not only about that.
Sure, 2021 looks like it’s gonna be as crazy and unpredictable as 2020. At least in the beginning. And I understand this uneasy and uncomfortable feeling that last year planted in our minds can dissuade you from setting goals or thinking about achievements. But hear me out. Setting goals is still worth it.
so, let’s talk about it…
Ever since December 1999, I write a list of realistic goals I want to achieve in the next year. They’re not New Year’s resolutions. They always fail. Mine are more like projects, very well outlined and thought of. They usually involve reading, saving money, keeping a budget, writing, learning, self-development milestones… and later, I added family, career, and side hustle goals.
I started doing it because of the emptiness I felt that year. 1999. A feeling that I let my life go by without seizing the day, without enjoying time as I should, without grabbing great opportunities to evolve, without using free time to grow. I know it’s a ridiculous thought for a 15-year-old boy but that’s how I felt, and it was an important insight for me in my life.
Also, and this has nothing to do with religion, but I read a parable from the Bible that year. I was about to become an atheist at the same time of my confirmation, so I had to read the whole Bible to be sure. I read it in Matthew and Luke. The same story. You might know it.
The parable is about a man who entrusts some money to his servants before he goes on a trip. When he comes back, he asks them what they did with the money.
Two of them put the money to work and doubled the value of what they had. The other one just buried the money on the ground and hid it, thinking he would save it, protect it. He was punished for that.
Reading it this way, it may sound like a capitalist tale to encourage people that the right thing to do is to make more money. It could be if the money that time wasn’t called a “talent”. I think that’s what makes this parable so powerful.
Yes, a talent that time was a unit of currency worth about 6,000 Roman silver coins or something worth 16 years of labor. But it’s not really about the money. A talent, as we know it, is a word to define a skill, a natural ability to be good at something. I knew I had a talent for learning, a talent for languages, I always loved reading and writing, and I always loved music.
Our talents are infinite if we want them to.
When I read this parable, this story with a valuable lesson, I interpret it as a warning: you can choose to live two ways: you either multiply and grow your talents, your skills, your craft, or whatever good thing you value, or you dig them and hide them… I chose to grow.
John Milton wrote:
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent, which is death to hide,
Lodg’d with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
So, yea. Every year, I list all the things I value. All my “assets”. My mind, my ability to learn, my passion for reading, my family, my dreams, my projects. And I write them down, and I write how I want them to grow. I list action plans for them and think of little habits that I have to work on or do or build to make it happen.
That’s why, if you ask me if it’s still worth it to list goals for a whole year, I say, Yes, it is. Or you can just bury your dreams and talents on the ground. And let the wind take you to whenever it’s blowing towards. It’s your choice.
This year, among the many things I’m planning to achieve, I wanna write more than I ever had. I have specific projects that I want to tackle. This blog is my first step for that to happen. But every month I’ll add one more “talent” to work on. The best part is that I’m gonna share everything with you and we can talk about our experiences to help each other.
For the comment section…
Tell me how do you set your goals and why do you think it’s still worth it to set them for 2021.