After the year we have had if someone had a magical ball that could tell you what 2021 had in store for you, would you want to know? What if I told you that you don’t need a magical ball to see the future, that instead, there is a methodical process to predicting what 2021 will hold?
Now before you think I am about to start talking about manifestation and the secret - take a deep breath - in true BetterUp form, this article is going to outline the science-backed methods that you can employ to zone in on the aspects of 2021 that are within your control and, with the data you have from 2020, maintain a stable vision for the months ahead of you.
First, in order to get a clear picture of what 2021 might look like, we must start with a thorough reflection on the triumphs of 2020. While the pandemic has been a challenging time, it has also provided an opportunity to slow down, overcome challenges, and work to understand ourselves better.
Two tips for a productive 2020 reflection:
- Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are some desirable changes you’ve seen in your life during the pandemic?
- What have you learned about yourself?
- What strengths did you leverage in order to navigate challenges this year?
- How would you like to improve in 2021 and how can you play an active role in bringing about that change?
- Identify what you want to take with you from this year into next. In your eagerness to move on from the craziness of 2020, don't miss the chance to reflect on the strengths you gained and practiced to remain resilient through challenges. Great change brings the opportunity for growth.
After reflecting on 2020, it is now time to move forward into creating your vision for 2021. This is where we will leverage research to give us an evidence-backed path to bringing our 2021 vision to reality. Okay, I am sure you have heard of the ever-popular vision board exercise, let’s dive into how to make your vision board work for you all year long.
Step 1 - Envision your best self. It is important to first take a moment to get a clear picture of what you want in 2021. At your best, what does 2021 hold for you? What are some of the long term goals you hope to accomplish in 2021? What emotions do you hope to cultivate? For more on this step check out this quick activity from BetterUp Labs.
Step 2 - Create your vision board. Your vision board serves as a physical reminder of your goals. BetterUp’s Shonna Waters, Ph.D., shares that mental practices like visualization can increase motivation, confidence, and even motor performance. Furthermore, researchers found that, in athletes, visualization was almost as effective as physical practice. Choose photos and words that will help you visualize the long term goals or habits you hope to achieve and the emotions you associate with them.
Step 3 - Make a plan. Research shows that we need both long and short term goals in order to sustain a New Years’ resolution or vision past the famous January 19th, NY resolution quitters day. Break down your long term goals into short term goals and celebrate each milestone to help keep you motivated. A couple of science-backed ways to support your success is to bundle a task you love with a task that you would typically avoid, like going for a run to your favorite coffee shop, also, choosing an accountability partner, like a friend or a coach to support you!
Step 4 - Understand your obstacles. Break down what’s needed to turn your vision into reality. For each goal, think about the obstacles that you’ll have to overcome, how you’ll do it, and how it will feel once you do. Find visuals that can serve as reminders of the strengths that got you through 2020. Was it friends or family that helped get you through it? Perhaps include a photo that reminds you of what keeps you moving forward when challenges arise.
Step 5 - Practice self-compassion. Progress isn’t linear, and if 2020 has taught us one thing it is that way we may face unexpected setbacks. It is important to manage your self-talk when challenges arise in a way that will help you stay motivated to move forward. BetterUp Labs’ research on resilience found that a key ingredient for staying resilient through adversity is self-compassion. Write down 2-3 phrases that you want to tell yourself when you make a mistake that you might tell a friend, such as: “Mistakes are part of the journey” or “That’s okay, you will try again tomorrow.”
Well, although I may not have been able to give you a magic ball, I hope after walking through this quick exercise you feel empowered by your learnings from 2020 to create a clear vision for 2021 and know how you will make that vision a reality! Have a wonderful New Year and remember, we are all in this together.