2021 – The Goal Setting Process, Theme, and The Year of Values

Happy new year! How’s this year been for you so far? (Seriously, I’m interested to know. I’m curious how different or similar the start of a new year is for different people. Feel free to post a comment below or contact me privately using the contact form!).

The first week of 2021 has been great. I’ve been in high spirits! I spent a lot of time thinking through my goals for 2021. I’m accustomed to setting quarterly goals and this was the first time I set yearly goals. If you’re curious about the process I followed, here it is:

  1. Did a detailed review of 2021 – my wins and accomplishments, what worked, what didn’t work, what I’d continue to do, and what I’d discontinue.
  2. Did the 5-hour Complice goal crafting intensive where I took a first stab at my goals.
  3. Came up with an overarching theme for the year.
  4. Used John Asaraf’s four step process to achieve goals to define the razor-sharp what goals to achieve, why I must achieve each goal (not, as Asaraf says, why I’d like to achieve the goal), by when, and a few next-step actions I can take to advance them right away.
  5. Read through Alex Vermeer’s 8,760 hours: How to get the most out of next year PDF. It’s a pretty comprehensive guide and will take days to complete. I picked the parts that made the most sense to me and worked through them. Specifically, I took inspiration from the document to come up with a yearly calendar for 2021 goals.

I feel pretty good about the time and effort I spent planning this year. What I especially like is that nothing is up in the air. I’ve made all my goals as concrete as possible with the next steps crystal clear and actionable. So the goals don’t feel theoretical. I feel like I will achieve them.

Theme for 2021

Last year, it was #theyearofme. This year, it’s going to be…0 to 1.

When I was journaling to get clear about what I wanted for this year, the term ‘0 to 1’ kept coming back to me. Let me define what I mean by it because my meaning is different from what Peter Thiel ascribed to it. I originally came up with this in a wealth creation context but now it’s bigger than that – wealth will be but one metric indicating the sort of transformation I will see.

2020 was spent in an exploratory mode. I got firmly off the path I had been on until I was 30 years old and started digging deeper into what made me me and what I truly wanted out of life. I did a bunch of different things and figured out what I liked and wanted in terms of lifestyle, social circle, the kind of work I do, and experiences. I’m now at a place where I feel poised to start building on the things that I know are aligned with who I am. The way I see it, I’m just starting out but I know the path is the right one and want to start walking down it. By the end of 2021, I’d like to be firmly established in my path, with the foundation firmly set. In a mathematical sense, I see my life ahead as following an exponential equation with time along x-axis and growth or transformation (as a person especially but also financially) along y-axis. Exponential growth will truly start at the end of 2021. But the foundation for that growth will be set this year.

I like that this theme has a startup angle to it as well as a mathematical angle. I can see that at the end of the year, I will be a different person with very different financial, mental, physical, and emotional characteristics.

Yearly Exploration

I’ve been intrigued by 365-day challenges. When I saw that Steve Pavlina was doing a 365-day challenge yet again in 2021, I started toying with the idea. I felt resistant to it, though, because I’ve been feeling fatigued by 30-day challenges of late. So doing a 365-day one felt far-fetched.

That’s when I got the idea to do 52-weeks of 1-week challenges. I could pick a different challenge every week and do 52 of them to last me a year. It’s a type of 365-day challenge in its own right.

The specific idea came to me when I was brainstorming ideas for my next journal and I explored it further with my friend Matt. I’d been thinking about doing something like what Benjamin Franklin had done with his 13 virtues. While Franklin wanted to ensure that he never violated any virtues, my idea was to pick a new value/theme every week and explore it in some way every day for seven days. I liked the thought of keeping something up for seven days (which was way lower than 30 days) and then moving on to exploring the next thing. I also liked that I could call this ‘my year of value exploration’ or ‘my year of weekly themes’. This idea energized me and I instantly became interested in starting it on Jan 1st!

The Year of Values

I had been wondering whether I should go with value-driven weeks (e.g., generosity, punctuality, etc) or theme-driven ones (e.g., ‘a week of early rising’). I decided to go with value-driven weeks because they give more room for growth and experimentation. A theme-driven challenge is better suited for habit development. I can always pick a value and tie that to a theme. So, the value of punctuality can be explored through ‘a week of rising at the same time’. I also love that values can be more pervasive. I can infuse my days with a value by keeping it at the back of my mind.

I’ll pick themes or values every week instead of deciding them in advance. That feels more aligned and I can pick a value that makes the most sense at the time. Plus, I like the suspense! I want to make this exploration as action-oriented as possible. While I could just journal about what a certain value means to me, that isn’t exactly embodying it. But how specific I want to make the action will depend on the value I pick and how I’d like to experience it. For example, for punctuality, I’d like to pick a specific action to practice every day. On the other hand, if I want to practice gratitude, I could choose to write in my gratitude journal one day and express gratitude out loud to someone the next.

I won’t be repeating any value twice. I don’t plan to invest too much time into this every day. At most, this will take a few minutes daily. In order to ensure that I’m on track, here’s what I plan to do:

  1. Every week, I’ll write down the value I wish to embody on a piece of paper and stick it in a place where it’s clearly visible (my desk at least in Q1). If later in the year I travel or something, I’ll come up with a different plan.
  2. On day #7, I’ll make a short (or long!) note on how the challenge went (my subjective assessment of it), any lessons I learnt, and/or any memories I have from the week.
  3. Every day, I’ll write down how I applied the value that day. Even a sentence counts.
  4. On day #7 or earlier, I’ll decide on what the next week’s value will be and how I wish to apply it.

I like the fast-paced nature of such an exploration; it keeps things interesting without necessarily needing a ton of time investment. It’s a nice alternative to 30-day challenges for me personally! I also feel that this will add a lot to my character and is an interesting way to sculpt it. I’m curious to see what sort of a person I will be after 52 weeks of this exploration.😃

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