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December 29, 2020

Ringing in the New Year! Creating Your 2021 Plan

Categories:  Resources | Coaching
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards."~ Soren Kierkegaard

Here we are at the end of 2020 – Whew!

As we end 2020, we also end another decade. It seems fitting that we would close out BOTH this extraordinary year along with THE decade. And for this edition of the blog – we want to

  • SET INTENTIONS for 2021.

2020 HAS been a very eventful year with the Harvey Weinstein verdict, The COVID-19 Pandemic, death of George Floyd and civil unrest that followed, death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Dow Jones falling 2000 points in one day (historical record), COVID-19 deaths topping 1.7M globally (more than 3x estimated annual flu deaths), alongside a divisive Presidential election and loss of work for many we take for granted, i.e., housekeepers, restaurant workers, small business owners, etc.

It has also been a year to celebrate the "silver linings": COVID-19 Vaccines released; increase in puzzles, board games, drive-in movies, and family time; innovations in working virtually (both business and socially oriented); election of the first-ever Black, Asian, and Female Vice President.

And now we have Finally reached the end of the Year!

And it is time to REFLECT, CELEBRATE, and then set new INTENTIONS.


A friend of ours tells us that the Winter Solstice day (December 21) is also known as New Day in Bulgaria. People celebrate new beginnings, and the tradition has it that everyone should let go of and leave behind what no longer serves them; name and speak out loud the new way they will think, speak and act in line with their new year's intentions. She also spends time clearing out her home of items that no longer serve or suit her.

A friend of ours tells us that the Winter Solstice day (December 21) is also known as New Day in Bulgaria. People celebrate new beginnings, and the tradition has it that everyone should let go of and leave behind what no longer serves them; name and speak out loud the new way they will think, speak and act in line with their new year's intentions. She also spends time clearing out her home of items that no longer serve or suit her.

Here in the US, we have the tradition of setting New Year's Resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. We then proceed to fail at bringing them to fruition. (92% of us fail by the end of February.) Perhaps that was a good thing for 2020; come Mid-March, we had to start all over again anyway.

Look back on the year:

If you were to travel back in time to January 1, 2020, who were you BEing? Wh did you become after Mid-March when many states announced, “Safer at Home”? Better yet, who were you choosing to BE? Did you envision who you wanted to BE in January of 2021? And then early into the Pandemic?

Also, let's ask: What did you plan to accomplish? What did you plan to do for work, for fun, for the family? What were your business goals, your career goals? What were your family goals or intentions?

Lori's "BEing intentions on January 1, 2020 were: "Focus, Fun, Lifestyle". If she reframes what she intended, she could say she more or less lived up to this.

Fast forward to today:

Who are you "BEing" today versus your intentions? How well did you pivot when the pandemic hit? What did you accomplish against your goals, your pivot in business, career, and family?

"Follow effective action with quiet reflections.

From the quiet reflection will come

even more effective action."

~ Peter Drucker

Smarter New Year goals start with reflection. Here are some questions we recommend.

  • Who did you BEcome in 2020? (Be honest with yourself here – no one is looking over your shoulder.) As a human being, who are you today versus who were you in 2019?

Life has drastically changed this past year, did you? Did you use the time, hardships, and circumstances to hone your human skills, or did you let circumstances misshapen and harden you?

As leaders, we are called to be better human beings. Did we heed the call? Did our emotional intelligence expand or contract? Are you proud of who you are today?

  • What did you accomplish in 2020? What results did you achieve? Did you revise your goals to allow yourself to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the Pandemic?

What challenges did you address or overcome? Were you able to take advantage of opportunities?

Look at successes in both your professional and personal lives AND the lives of those whom you lead. We have provided a Professional Wheel to help you identify some major areas in your professional life.

  • What were the moments of greatest joy and fulfillment? We use this to help develop an appreciative and positive state of mind to reflect on all that is good in our lives and sets us up for what we want in the coming year -- but don't jump ahead to the new year just yet!
  • What no longer serves you? What can you let go of? What do you no longer need or want in your life? (e.g., a crazy travel schedule or commute time, work you can’t stand, people in your circle who drag you down)? What can you shed from your life and business that will open space for the future you want?


There is much to celebrate this year. Honestly, staying in business or keeping your job, for example, are causes for celebration. If you were laid off or got sick, you may have been given an opportunity.

  • What are the top three things you want to celebrate? These are your accomplishments, successes, something you are letting go of, something you shifted, or something you learned. These can include little things or big things – all count. You might simply want to celebrate how well you adapted and coped this year.

"We were together. I forget the rest"

~Walt Whitman

  • How will you celebrate? It could be something very simple: a walk-in your favorite place or connect with someone special, ordering take-out from your favorite restaurant, taking a FULL day (or MORE!) from Zoom, Social Media, etc. We find this step critical and often not taken, which can lead to losing sight of our strengths, accomplishments, and minimizing the significance of what we let go of.

Recognition is often one of those areas where we, as leaders and employers, fall short, yet we (and our employees) most yearn for it.

  • What values were you honoring to achieve these accomplishments or moments of joy? Values are what you stand for, believe in, and what you hold as important. They are as intrinsic to you as your own fingerprint. Examples are service, learning, integrity, authenticity, challenge, etc.
  • Who were the people whose relationships were important to you? Who were your supporters, mentors, guides, and friends? Who do you need to acknowledge and thank (e.g., colleagues, team members, mentors, coaches, family members, friends)?
  • What did you not accomplish? What stopped you from accomplishing what you had hoped to achieve? What is still important to you now, to move to next year? This is not about making you wrong; rather, it is looking at what may no longer be important to you or serve you. What resources, collaborators, and learning may you need in the future?
  • What would you do less of? More of? What do you need to let go of? This is important to acknowledge, as well. So many of us are trying to do more than is humanly possible.

And we may not be including some significant things in our work or personal lives (i.e., exercise, completing 1:1's with our staff, etc.) that should be included.

You will also want to include anything you did not accomplish that remains important to the values you wish to honor.







~ Oprah Winfrey


Let's create your 2021 Intentions. Creating a successful year means getting clear on who you are going to BE, so you get clear on what you are really going to accomplish. It is one of the fundamental motivations for your goals.

For 2021 the way we will work on our goals this year is the formula: Be, Do, Have, in that order. We choose who we will BE. Then we choose what we will do (goals), and we will have our results. Our doing and having is based on our BEING.

Being is based on our Purpose, our Why, and our values, our standards.

  • PURPOSE: What is the reason you exist? Simon Sinek calls this the core of your golden circle, your Why!

Ways to find this is to ask yourself: What contribution and legacy do I want to make? This is on the scale of your life's purpose, your reason for existing.

Has this changed based on your reflection from above, from what you have learned about yourself in 2020?

  • VALUES: What are the standards or guiding principles by which you operate? Our values help us grow and develop, communicate with conviction, and create the future we want to experience.

We combine our why and our values to discover who we espouse to BE. I like to combine two or three values with my why to create a BEING sentence.

e.g. My purpose may be to bring love into the workplace, and I value authenticity, courage, honesty, love, and connection. So, my BEING sentence is: I AM courageous, authentic, and loving.

Or my purpose could be to advance the living standard for humanity, with the same values plus wellness. My BEING sentence could be: I AM courageous, honest, and well at all times.

Once we have discovered who we want to BE, we check our behavior to see if we live into it and what we need to shift to live into it. Regardless of the pandemic, an economic crisis, or a wildly successful and healthy year, who you BE guides you to right choices, behaviors, and actions. WRITE it down!

After we have BEING down, we can move ahead with planning.

  • VISION: Create a clearly defined picture of who you aspire to be, what you desire to do, and what you desire to have at a point in the future, December 31, 2021.

Who will you BE? Who will be with you? What will you be doing? What will you have achieved?

Visualize it as if you already are it, do it, and have this vision. The ability to visualize and clearly and succinctly state the vision is a vital factor of successful leadership. Helping others to see your vision helps them get on board with you. WRITE this down!

  • GOALS: What you need to achieve in the shorter term to achieve your vision in the long term.

Write your goal clearly, break it into smaller steps, and create accountability for yourself, such as having an accountability partner, an executive coach, a mentor, a peer support group, or your team. Create a compelling challenge and make it fun!

Also, what new habits do you need to create to achieve your goals? Remember, it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. Keep the habit changes small until you build the muscle of habit formation.

Keep the action steps for your goals small. Lori calls these baby steps. WRITE down the goals and the baby steps!

  • PRIORITIES: What are the most important things you need to focus on to achieve your goals? WRITE these down! Annotate your goals sheet with them.
  • ROLES: Define what roles you must play to achieve the vision and achieve your goals, and who will be your key allies and supporters and what roles will they play? WRITE their names and their roles on your goals sheet.

You may also want to complete your Professional Wheel of Life to assess your professional life areas that need more focus for 2021. Create goals in your top three areas.

Our most successful clients are very clear each year about their Purpose, Values, Vision, Goals, Priorities, and Roles. They know who they will BE, what they plan to do, and what they want to have.

Some people write their goals and post them in their offices, bathrooms (If you work from home), and desks, anyplace where they often see them without extra effort. The very act of writing them out helps you accomplish them. Others do well by announcing to others what they are going to accomplish.

Vividly describing your goals in written form is strongly associated with goal success. People who vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to accomplish their goals than people who don't. (Mark Murphy)

Best Wishes,

James and Lori

Supporting business leaders and HR/OD Leaders to transform cultures and transition through the Pandemic and beyond.

James Jackman, MSOD & Lori Heffelfinger, MSOD, PCC

"Live with intention.

Walk to the edge.

Listen Hard.

Practice wellness.

Play with abandon.


Choose with no regret.

Appreciate your friends.

Continue to learn.

Do what you love.

Live as if this is all there is."

~ Mary Anne Radmacher


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