By Skyler Johnston, Marketing Director at Blue Raven Solar
This historic year has (finally?) come to an end and 2021 is upon us. For many, the end of the year is a time of reflection and setting goals for the next year. Some might think, what’s the point of setting goals for 2021?
If you set goals at the beginning of 2020, by the end of March the world had turned upside down and most of your goals were likely thrown out the window along with any travel plans and concert tickets. It’s important to be forgiving for the past year, with its social distancing, quarantining and “unprecedented times,” but you can still look forward to this next year with optimism and a renewed determination to meet the goals you set for yourself.
Blue Raven Solar has been ranked one of the fastest-growing companies in the country for a few years now and continues to experience rapid growth, in the already quickly growing industry of renewable energy and residential solar. One of our company values is “Continuously Improve,” and setting goals helps us to do just that. In the beginning of 2020, we set goals—for sales, for growth, for hiring, for teams, and for ourselves.
Although COVID-19 and many other events in 2020 threw a curveball in the plans to reach those goals, we have still been able to maintain our growth rate and meet most of the goals we set as a company, departments, managers, and individuals. There were many roadblocks on the marketing team, like switching to working from home and then transitioning back to the office (with many new COVID-19 protocols in place), dealing with a company-wide response to the pandemic, and more. Here is what I have learned about goal setting and how I will be applying it in 2021.
Define What Success Means to You
When setting goals, success can mean something different for everyone. If you want to be healthier, will you have reached success after losing a certain amount of weight, or after exercising 3 times a week, drinking a gallon of water every day, and eating more vegetables?
If you want to manage your time better, will you reach success once you’ve caught up on work or after you’ve formed better habits and are able to consistently complete items on your to-do list? Take stock of where you are now and where you want to be.
The end goal might seem far away and difficult to reach but setting smaller and more attainable goals that work toward something bigger can help break down the process and make it less intimidating.
Decide How and When You will Accomplish the Goal
The global pandemic put a wrench in many peoples’ plans for the year, but let’s be real—a lot of new year’s resolutions are usually already forgotten by March or even earlier. Setting a goal for a whole year or even for a few months from now can sometimes make the goal feel intimidating or far away.
A lot of times, it makes sense to break it down into quarters, months, periods, or weeks. You might have a goal of saving money for a down payment on a house or a car. Saving many thousands of dollars might be daunting but it becomes a lot more feasible when you make the monthly goal of putting a percentage of your paycheck into a savings account, or the weekly goal of avoiding eating out every day and saving that money instead.
Excel can be a great tool to help you map your path toward a larger goal by breaking it down into chunks of time. It can help you track your progress, stay on track, or make up for lost time due to any obstacles.
Make Sure your Goals are SMART
You might have learned about SMART goals in high school or college, but the SMART acronym is still around for good reason: it works.
I’ve seen several variations of the acronym but I generally use the McKinsey version. SMART goals are specific, measurable, actionable, results oriented, and time bound. Is your goal clear? Can you track its progress? What do you need to do to accomplish it? Is it focused on results? How long will it take to accomplish it? If you can answer these questions, you are setting yourself up for success (which you defined a few steps ago). Always use the SMART goals framework as you formalize your goals, and make sure each goal meets these requirements.
Here’s where lots of people falter and forget their goals. It’s exciting to create a shiny new list of new year’s resolutions in the beginning of January but throughout the year, things happen, and this list becomes just another piece of paper.
With any goal, it’s important to regularly review your progress and make any adjustments necessary (the Excel sheet will come in handy here). If halfway through the year, you’ve already met some goals, scale your goals up and be even more aggressive. Or, you might have to adjust it to account for unforeseen challenges or obstacles. Whether or not you will reach any of your goals shouldn’t be a surprise at the end of the year.
Goals should be dynamic.
They’re not set in stone; they shouldn’t feel like a weight on your shoulders or hold you back. Let’s say at the beginning of 2020 you had the SMART goal of traveling to a new state every month in an effort to get to all 50 states in less than 5 years. The global pandemic made that goal impossible (or at least irresponsible) to reach. Maybe instead of traveling to several new states each month, you could explore your own state by doing hikes, going camping, visiting nearby cities, or you could simply learn about other states until you get the chance to travel safely again.
With any goal, it’s important to remain accountable.
Keeping track of your progress will keep you accountable, but enlisting the help of a family member, friend, boss or coworker can be even more effective. If no one knows about your goal, you can easily toss it aside once it gets too difficult or time consuming. If you’re accountable to someone (or something—a financial or other external force) you’ll be more likely to get going when the going gets tough. Someone you can trust can also provide motivation, advice, company, or assistance.
This year was eventful to say the least—from a pandemic to a presidential election and everything in between (murder hornets, fires, protests). When you look back on this time, you might remember the historic events that inevitably affected the world. But more than that, you will remember how this historic year affected you and what you did to make your life your own despite the difficulties.
When writing down your goals for 2021, take a moment to be grateful for the opportunity to continuously improve and grow.
About the Author
Skyler leads our Marketing team, focused on building the Blue Raven Solar brand across all channels. Prior to joining Blue Raven, Skyler spent time in various marketing and product management roles in several organizations, including Amazon, Blendtec, and NTT.
He has an MBA from BYU’s Marriott School of Business.