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Setting Goals for 2021

Setting Goals for 2021

A new year brings a fresh slate for all types of goals, including mindfulness, journaling, and writing.

Many start out each new year with a set of goals and new habits they wish to incorporate into their daily lives. The holidays often leave us hankering for routine and ready to commit ourselves to new practices. If you have been thinking about incorporating a journaling practice or mindfulness practice into your routine, or if you’ve been thinking about getting more serious about your writing goals, this is a great time to make plans for what you’d like to achieve in the weeks and months ahead.

Below are some suggestions for each of these three categories. In each section, we’ll talk about goals you could set for yourself and questions you can ask yourself while setting those goals.

Journaling practice

If you’re thinking about starting a journaling practice in 2021, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Where do you want to journal? Do you want to use a paper journal and write longhand, or would you prefer a computer journal, in the form of either a word processing program or a specific journaling app?
  • How often is realistic for you for journaling? Many people like to do a daily journaling practice, but that isn’t feasible for everyone. If it’s not possible or you, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo the idea of a journaling practice all together. The most important thing isn’t frequency, but consistency. If once every other day or a few times a week is most possible for you, then set that as your goal. Just try to stick with it.
  • Ask yourself: what do I want to get out of journaling? Are you looking for a place to work through your thoughts, experiences, and emotions? Are you looking for somewhere to brainstorm creative ideas, or troubleshoot work challenges? Are you interested in exploring the possibilities in keeping in a gratitude journal? Journals can take all shapes, and knowing what your personal goal is with your journal can be helpful in establishing a practice. At the same time, though, if you aren’t sure what you want to do with journaling, it’s okay to start out freeform and see where your practice takes you!

Mindfulness practice

Mindfulness can help bring awareness to one’s inner self by putting you in touch with your emotions and feelings. Many people start the new year with a new mindfulness practice. If you are considering doing so, here are some things you can consider:

  • How often are you able to commit to meditation in some form? Like with a journaling practice, mindfulness is best adopted when it’s done consistently. Can you set aside five minutes each morning, or each evening, for mindfulness? What is realistic for you? Is there a setting you can enter where you can focus?
  • Start small. You shouldn’t expect to jump into mindfulness with the ability to engage in it for twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Allow yourself to ease into a practice by committing at first to small increments, such as one, three, or five minute sessions. As you become more familiar with the practice, you can increase your time. Since you are beginning a new practice at the beginning of a new year, it may be helpful to establish for yourself what you hope to achieve within a year. As you embark on 2022, how many minutes a day would you like to be dedicating to mindfulness?
  • Decide how you will engage in a mindfulness practice. There are many apps, books, websites, and other resources that can help you understand mindfulness and engage in mindfulness practice. It’s okay to try a few different methods and see which one works best for you.


There is a lot of crossover between those who journal, those who engage in mindfulness, and those who identify as writers. If you are someone who is a writer and who wants to take your writing to the next level this year, there is no time like the start of the new year to lay out some goals for yourself.

  • The first thing to ask yourself is: what do I want to accomplish this year? What does “taking it up a notch” mean to you? If you are a published author, perhaps it means publishing a particular type of writing. If you are someone who has never shown your writing to anyone at all, perhaps it means simply writing something that you are happy enough with that you’re comfortable letting someone else read it. If you have been writing for a while but haven’t been published, perhaps a good goal for you is to work toward publication this year, whether it means connecting with an agent for representation for your full draft of a novel or getting a short story placed in a journal. Writing goals can, and should, take different shapes for different people.
  • Consider the tools you’ll need to engage in order to achieve the goals you set out for yourself. Tools that may be required for writers include a space to write, time to write (this is important, and often overlooked!), and subjects to write about. Other tools that may feel right for some writers might include taking a writing class, connecting with an agent for representation, or joining a writing group. Whatever tools you think will help you achieve your goals, those are the ones you should tap into.
  • Make a schedule for yourself — one that you can be accountable toward. Writing requires real commitment. Make a schedule for yourself not only for actual writing time, but also for the time it takes to achieve other aspects of your goals. For example, if you want to get published in a literary journal, you need to set aside time for sending submissions. Be realistic about what it’s going to take, and find a way to accommodate the time you’ll need.

No matter what goals you set for yourself this year, we hope that you have a safe, happy, and especially healthy new year!

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Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

Visit Lauren Harkawik's website