• Dafne Sartorio

Closing off 2020 and Planning 2021: How to?

Updated: Dec 25, 2020

Disclaimer: This is a refresh from my last year's article about goals!

Disclaimer 2: Para a versão em Português, clique aqui


One thing is a fact: 2020 hasn't been an easy year. It has been atypical, and definitely tough. With that, there is an opportunity to reflect on this whirlwind of emotions.

Usually during this period of the year, many of us start to look back and try to reflect on the main achievements, learnings and also to plan the year that is about to come.

This can be a difficult task, since our New Year resolutions can easily become a piece of paper that we never look at again, or maybe something dreadful due to the fact that we just expected too much and were not able to accomplish anything. This can lead to a lot of frustration, and many of us lose hope on even trying to plan for the new year.

For this reason, (and also because you have asked :)), I have worked on the following guide to wrap up your 2020 the best way possible, and to help you set realistic goals for 2021.

Before anything... a couple of reminders:

  • I used a mix of "methodologies and guides" I have learned over the past years. Some things might not be that new to you, and some of the content is certainly not "original"; However, I am sharing with you exactly what I do.

  • Don't expect the process to be perfect! It will be messy, but embrace it and it will eventually work out

  • Don't expect to have all the answers coming very easily: you need to take time for this process and to take it seriously.

  • Goal-setting is a continuous process: Only do it if you are willing to come back to it at a later stage, and preferably to embed reflection on your routine.

Getting started: What will you need?

In case you are ready to start, here is what you will need for the process:

  • A couple of hours (at least 2 hours - it usually takes me 3 hours for the whole process)

  • A quiet spot (in corona times, this might be challenging ;))

  • A notebook and a pen OR your computer - whatever works best for you

  • Access to your calendar and your phone, in case you want to browse through appointments and pictures

  • Access to your bank account, if you want to go more in depth into your financial planning

Part 1: Wrapping up 2020

Let‘s start looking back: Take a couple of minutes to visualize your situation in the end of 2019.

  • Where were you when 2019 was finished?

  • How were you emotionally? and physically?

  • What were your hopes and ambitions?

  • What did you want to achieve in 2020?

In case you set goals for 2020, it might be interesting to look at the notes from the reflection process you've gone through to set these goals. Try to recap and get in the mood.

After this, we can move to understanding what 2020 was like to you.

How was 2020?

Highs, Lows and Key Learnings

We start by taking the time to look into 2020 month by month. For that, I suggest you go through your appointments on the calendar, photos, or any memories you have.

Then, write down for every month what have been the highs, lows, and learnings you had/experienced. On the left side, there's an example of structure you can follow (based on my own journal). In case you have any printed memories such as photos, tickets, or anything else, you might want to glue them to your notebook. Totally up to you.

- Extra (optional) element: Looking into your financial life in 2020

When it comes to finances, like any part of your life, if you want to improve on this aspect, you have to map out your current state.

What is your current cash flow, the fixed expenses you already committed to, and then taking into perspective short and long-term plans, draw a strategy to manage your financial life better. That being said, I created a google docs that can help you review this aspect on 2020 and plan 2021. You can access it here.

You should know: the responsible for putting this work on finances together was my partner, Daniel Bastos. So yeah, go ahead and thank him after :)

Recognizing yourself & your achievements

After this, reflect on the following questions:

  • What are you most proud of?

  • What are you grateful for?

Try to list down as many points as you can.

Then, before moving on, stop for a second, take a quick look at the list, and feel the positive energy you get from it. Enjoy the moment a bit - you deserve it!

The people that impacted you

Now, it's time to acknowledge the important people for you during this year.

List down the names of the people that impacted you the most, be that on your personal or professional life. But don't stop there! Try to write a bit more about them: Why were they important? Why did they impact you? How did you feel?

You can list down as many people as you want. However, for the top 3 people, I would add a small challenge: write them a message and thank them for whatever they've done.

You have no idea of how much that can add value to their lives to know that they were important to you. And you will feel amazing too :)

One word to describe 2020

If you could describe 2020 in one word, what would it be?

Time to say goodbye to 2020

It is finally time to say goodbye to 2020.

This is the moment for you to debrief whatever experience you had, and to move forward. I recommend you write a goodbye letter to 2020. Feel free to write whatever comes to your mind! And then, after you've done so, say goodbye to this year, thank it for your learnings and experiences, and take a break. Go grab yourself a cup of tea/coffee/water before moving to 2021.

Part 2: Moving to 2021

Now that 2020 is "gone", lets focus on 2021!

And which better way to do that than seeing what areas you need to focus on to have a more balanced life?

For this reason, I recommend you start with the "Wheel of life". The aim here is that you assess where you stand x where you want to be in the end of 2021. This exercise will help you think about your goals afterwards - actually, if you do this right, moving from the wheel of life to objectives will be sort of a natural process.

- But wait, before you proceed.. From here, you can move forward in two ways:

1. With your own notebook


2. By making use of this spreadsheet as a guide (just create a copy for yourself)

Go ahead and follow the best way that really works for you. The most important point is to go through the exercise.

How does it work?

Step 1: Score yourself on the current state

Start by drawing a circle divided in 10 areas, or just click on the spreadsheet link. Then, try to score yourself from 0-10 on the following aspects as of how you are today.

#1 Health and Fitness

How would you rate your health, given your age and any physical conditions?

#2 Intellectual life

How much time do you set aside to learn new things, and how fast are you learning? How many books do you read/podcasts do you listen to/tutorials do you watch? How many seminars to you attend yearly? Are you seeking to learn from others?

#3 Emotional life

This is the quality of your home, your car, your office and the general spaces where you spend your time during the day and night (eg: café’s, bars, schools, etc), even when travelling.

Do you paint, write, play music, or engage in other activities that channel your creativity?

How much are you giving, contributing and playing a definite role in your community?

#4 Spiritual life

How much time do you devote to spiritual, meditative, or contemplative practices that keep you feeling connected, balanced and peaceful?

#5 Love relationship

This is a measure of how happy you are in your current state of relationship

#6 Family life

How is your relationship with your partner, parents and siblings? If you don’t have immediate family, how is your relationship with your alternate family (dearest friends, extended family)?

#7 Social life

This is a measure of how strong a support network you have. Do you have at least 5 people who you know have your back, and you just love being around (mostly!)?

#8 Financial life

How is your financial life? Do you feel satisfied with your income and how you spend your money?

For more information on finances, feel free to click here.

#9 Career

Are you growing, progressing and excelling? Or do you feel stuck in a rut?

How fast are you improving the skills that make you unique and help you build a successful career, or enjoy a meaningful past time? Are you growing towards mastery or stagnating?

#10 Adventure & Fun

How much time do you get to travel, experience the world and do things that open you up to new experiences and excitement?

Step 2: Define a target for each area for 2021

After you've done that, do the same exercise, but for 2021: where do you want to be? Set a score for that one.

Step 3: Set your goals

Based on the wheel of life exercise you've just gone through, what are your main objectives for 2021? State them in a sentence, and try to focus on goals you can control. For example, "get married by 2021" or "become president of Brazil next year" might not be fully under your control, and they would make you feel very frustrated. Therefore, I advise you to be bold, but look inside your influence zone.

For now, just put your goals on paper. We will prioritize them afterwards.

Step 4: Prioritize!

Now that you've written the goals, it's time to prioritize them. You can cluster them in Low/Medium/High priority, or even measure them in Impact x Effort.

Step 5: Make it even more granular: Define your attitudes

Now you have your top goals. I would tell you not to go with more than 10, but it's up to you to decide, because this really depends on what your goals are.

In the end of the process, this is how your planning looks like:

Also, in case you want, I would recommend making these goals more measurable. For that , you can use the SMART Framework. Here's a bit more about it.

Step 6: Choose your BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) for 2021

A big hairy audacious goal, or BHAG, is a clear target for anyone to strive for - generally used for organizations, but here I am suggesting you try it on yourself.

In case you are curious, the term became famous because of the book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.

How do you know if your goal is a BHAG?

Try having a goal that fits the following criteria:

  • Does it stimulate forward progress? 

  • Does it get you going?

  • Is it stimulating, exciting, adventurous?

  • Are you willing to put your energy into it?

If so, then feel free to move forward. However, there are a couple more questions I'd like you to answer:

- What is the goal?

- How do you know when you're successful?

- What do you need to get there (try to make it as detailed as possible, like a timeline)

- Who do you need/ Who can help you?

- To achieve it by the end of 2021, when do you need to get started?

Last but not least... your affirmation for 2021

If you had to read the same sentence every single morning of 2021, what would it be?

This is the final step of the process I want you to work on: A powerful affirmation about the year of 2021. An affirmation that gets you going when times are hard, or when you are just a bit tired.

If you've never written an affirmation before, here's a quick guide on how to start with it.

Conclusion: Work for it, but don't forget to adapt on the way

In case you read this far, congratulations: you've made it! However, I wanted to leave you some final messages:

1. Keep your notebook/spreadsheet and your goals somewhere you can visualize and look back. Some people even create visual boards and leave them in the office, for example. The more you look at it, the better.

2. Goals are amazing, but the most important thing is your attitude towards them. Sometimes, you have to change your plans due to unexpected things happening in your life, and that's okay. That's why I recommend you take some time every quarter to check where you stand with your goals, and to adapt them accordingly. Goals are not rigid: they can be changed based on reality. So, if something doesn't work according to your plan, try to learn from it and to get better on the way.

3. Apart from that, as we all know, in order to achieve our goals we have to be willing to do the work. If you want to go where you've never been, you have to go the extra mile and do what you've never done. Don't forget about that!

In case you want to hear more about how to achieve you goals, feel free to check another article I wrote about it.

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I am looking forward to hearing what you have planned for 2021!

Good luck and happy holidays!


Ps: If you like content on planning, productivity, and self-development, feel free to follow me on instagram. I share new content and tips on a daily basis!

And last but not least: If you liked this article, don't forget to share it with the people you believe might benefit from it, too. Sharing is caring. Thank you for your support! <3

952 views0 comments