After the ups and downs of 2020, 2021 has finally arrived! The new year is a time of resolutions and fresh starts, and there is no better year than 2021 to dream big. But setting goals can be daunting; the last thing you want to do is set a goal and be disappointed at the end of the year because you didn’t quite achieve it. Or get stuck in the planning phase because you can’t quite figure out what you want your goal to be. 

But setting realistic goals isn’t impossible: Here are three tips for setting goals that will help you achieve your dreams in 2021. 

Make It Relevant

The first step in setting a realistic goal is making sure that your goal is relevant to you. It is important to dream big, but you should be dreaming big about things that are important to you—that way, you will actually have the motivation to make your goal happen. If you choose a goal that matters to you and plays to your own particular strengths, then you are statistically more likely to achieve it

One way to do this is to take some time and really think about where your interests lie—for example, have you always wanted to learn to knit or maybe travel the world? Brainstorm all of your passions, and they can help guide your focus to concrete goals for the year. 

Make It Measurable 

The next step in setting a realistic goal is to make the goal measurable. This means the goal has both clarity and a specific time frame. You have already brainstormed to figure out what you broadly want to achieve, so now is the time to make it specific. 

Look at your broad goal and break down all of the smaller steps it takes to achieve it. Edward Locke, a psychologist and goals researcher, found that over 90 percent of the time, specific goals increased a person’s likelihood to reach their overall goal. 

Once you have your smaller steps, set a time frame and deadline for each one. Being able to track your progress and aim for a set end date will make your goal much less overwhelming and motivate you to follow through. 

Stay Accountable

Lastly, in order to set a realistic goal, you need a way to monitor your progress. There are many options available for accountability. The first is writing your goal down. “Seeing the goals and steps you have to take will keep you motivated and consistent to continue to work toward it,” explains Catherine Jackson, licensed psychologist

Another great way to keep on track is to have a friend check up on you periodically. By telling a friend about your progress, you are both validating your goal and making sure you keep working toward it. 

If you do both of these things together, you are setting yourself up for success. According to Dr. Gail Matthews, a clinical psychologist from Dominican University of California, “those who write down their goals and share their goals with a friend, as well as send weekly updates, were on average 33% more successful when it comes to accomplishing their stated goals compared to those who merely formulate goals.”

If you do all these things, then you are already on the right path for setting realistic goals! Stick to them, and there is no limit to what you can achieve!