Setting your direction for 2021

a small silhouette of a person looks up at a big multicoloured night sky

Photo by Greg Rakozy

In 2016 a Hawaiian crew piloted the Hokule’a, a voyaging canoe, around the world, using the traditional Polynesian technology of using the stars for wayfinding. This story inspired in so many ways and–one of them was to learn more about my cultural traditions around the stars. I took the fall off to rest and reflect on the impact I want to make in the world. I’ve been thinking about the following questions: Where am I? Where do I want to go? What is my North Star and how do I navigate where I want to go? 

For the past 10 years I’ve done some kind of looking back on the last year and setting goals/intentions/directions for the next one. I really enjoy this type of reflection and goal setting and it’s helped me move my life and career in a direction that I want to go. Here’s some free tools I’ve used to help structure that reflection. This was a post that I originally published in December 2019 and updated for 2021. 

Year Compass

Krisztina Kun introduced this planning booklet to me and I love it. This is the booklet I’ve used the most. It starts with the invitation to:

Put on some relaxing music.
Pour yourself a hot beverage.

Let go of all your expectations.

Available in more than 40 languages, you look back at the past year in 10 areas: personal life and family, work/studies/profession, belongings (home/objects), relaxation/hobbies/creativity, friends/community, health/fitness, intellectual, emotional/spiritual, finances, and bucket list. I’m used to setting professional and athletic goals but the first time I did this I realized I’d been neglecting my creativity. For a long time setting financial goals was too scary, so I didn’t. A couple of years ago I bravely filled this section out for the first time. The first time I read the section on forgiveness and letting go I had a big cry.

The 2021 version has an optional pandemic supplement that looks at three specific areas: confronting the loss of control, taking stock of the profoundly changed daily life, and assessing the health of your social circle.

Unravel your year 2021

A couple of friends recommended this workbook to me and I’ve printed this booklet out and will try it for the first time this year. There’s a lot that looks similar to Your Compass in that you look back and then look forward with some structured prompts, some of which feel a bit whimsical to me (this is a good thing). I love that there’s a thing to colour in while pondering your word for 2021.

I love that this booklet also uses earth, air, water and fire as categories for sets of questions for the next year and includes 2 tarot exercises.

Reboot Your Year

I learned about this is a free, 5 day email course from software engineering leader Sean Rich. Each day you receive a koan, which is a paradox to meditate on, and an audio track to lead you in a brief journaling exercise.

Brilliant You

Danielle Vincent put together an online workshop titled Brilliant You: Envision, design, and create your most sparkling life. I met Danielle at Mozilla and was inspired by her interesting career path and her generosity, creativity, whimsy and drive. She is now the CEO of a very successful soap company

There’s a short quiz where you learn your goal setting style and then learn how to best set goals for your style. You then go through setting long term goals and break them down several times until you have weekly goals. My partner loved this course and found that having weekly goals enabled her to develop new habits. A lot of the course content is delivered through videos.

2020 Visioning: a New Years Practice with Alicia Garza

Zena Sharman recommended this podcast with Alicia Garza, principal at Black Futures Lab and co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, that “offers a visioning practice to guide us through the transition from 2019 into 2020 with focused personal & political power.” While this is a year old it’s still really relevant and not hard to adapt for this year. This 30 min recording also includes a handout that reminds me of a zine.

adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good recorded a beautiful 30 min podcast episode a few years ago about casting a spell for yourself and your community.