What goals should I set for 2021? None. Here’s what lawyers need to do, instead

Hey friend, it is almost the end of this crazy year, and all eyes are on the next? Are you looking forward to 2021? Are you asking what goals should I set for 2021?

Have you noticed, as sure as the jolly big man in the red suit and sleigh, the constant pressure to set goals for next year? Santa is making his list, and it’s time for us to start writing the list of goals we are going to crush next year. I am not sure about you, but it makes me tired to even think about it. Yes, usually the new year is all about new possibilities and exciting adventures. The shiny stretch goals to help us push harder.

But, hey time for a reality check. This year has been crap. If you are like me, perhaps you are living in hope we will resume life as we knew it, at some point.

Do you feel this too?

Rather than setting big audacious goals, let’s be kind to ourselves, allow some time to heal, and think about the new normal, and a better normal.

No one could have predicted 2020 and the shitty year it has been. The year is almost incomprehensible and even catastrophic for many people.

I’m not ready to chase new adventures or anything new because it seems unrealistic. The dreamer inside me has gone into hiding. I need time and space to recover and heal. Moving forward with gratitude and hope is my limit. How about you?

I would be grateful if we could live life as we did pre-2020. You know, when life was “normal”. Remember when it was possible to meet with a group of friends after work? Or go to movies and sit side-by-side with people? We could even get married with our nearest and dearest by our sides. Who knew we’d be yearning for things we had taken for granted – our normal lives filled with human interaction?

So, here’s another thought for your goal setting for 2021 and a different approach to the new year.

1. Focus on the new “better” normal

What does your better normal look like?

It may seem too raw to rip off the band aid and complete a full post mortem on 2020. But it’s still important to look back, before moving forward. I encourage you to reflect gently on what happened and make some sense of it, for you. Can you see any positives in your reflection? If nothing else, this year has shown the value of regular life. And above all, the value of other people.

We’ve adjusted to mindboggling change across every aspect of our lives. The fight or flight response to the environment around us. The world was, and remains, in peril. We had no option but to make a swift, radical change to survive.

Lockdown forced a seismic shift in how we live and work.

We started working remotely, using technology and digitization to stay productive. Video calls replaced client meetings and cocktails with family and friends. The way we buy and consume has changed too. It’s possible to have everything delivered to our doors. In many ways, the world has become smaller, and people around the world closer. The world is our oyster now.

The ‘old’ normal is gone, and there’s no turning back. It’s a tantalizing opportunity and now is the time to use this momentum to create the new better normal.

So, take time to reflect on your work. What did you love creating and working on in 2020? What was tough? What felt difficult? What are the things you’d like to take with you to build a better normal for you? Grab those things and bring them to 2021. I’ll be doing the same.

2. Tap into your curiousness

This year ease off the “think and dream big” statements. Any other year I’d be shouting it from the rooftops because I have endless faith in us humans to do great things. And the bigger we dare to dream, the bigger the impact is.

For now, let’s put the rhetoric aside and start with being kind to ourselves.

Instead of setting big, hairy goals, imagine if you explored your curiosity instead? What if you stopped and listened to your curiosity? It has a voice, at the moment, a whisper. It can be the most random thought initially and may take time for it to fall into place as you think about it more. Curiosity is a basic human trait. A desire to seek new information and explore new possibilities. When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally and look for more creative solutions. Curiosity is gentle. It is an invitation to have a peek at something that interests you. Curiosity doesn’t need an end goal, do it for fun.

Replace the goals and explore your curiosity. In the quiet space, you may find something light you up. If we take the performance pressure away, it gives us freedom. To think, to grow, and see what happens. 

But what am I being curious about I hear you ask?

Start by taking the best parts of 2020 you discovered during your reflection and ask questions about why you enjoyed it so much. Explore and nurture it for what it is, without a specific goal in mind. Simply understand it.

You may have learned a new or more efficient way to deliver services during 2020. Explore it before you leave it behind. You may find it grows something else, evolving into something tangible over time. Could it be the seed of your new business, part of the new better normal?

Let your curiosity guide your light.

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3. Lean into uncertainty and start before you’re ready

In times like these, we need innovative lawyers like you more than ever. Lawyers with the mindset and vision for brighter times. Lawyers who have courage and perseverance to take action and be agents of change.

In all the uncertainty and chaos, there’s a hidden treasure. When nothing is certain, anything is possible and you might just find it when you start exploring the positives of 2020. It may take a while to bubble to the top, and when it does it will make sense.

If you have been thinking of starting a new business and job security was holding you back. It’s time to leave the limiting belief behind. 2020 has shown us, security is an illusion and now is the time to lean in and start building the meaningful life of your dreams. You know, the one where you are doing great things and living a grateful and rewarding life?

We, lawyers, have strengths in planning and preparing. We take all risks into account and create a few more while we’re at it. It’s why we are so frustratingly conservative.

But here’s a challenge for your next year. Skip the preparation and start experimenting.

Curious humans created our “old” normal. Getting outside the box, exploring their curiosity to see if there was a better way to do things. They did now know us, or how their change, big or small, would affect our lives. Yet we now lament the loss of the old normal and await its return.

We are in the box seat to reflect on 2020, grab the positives and the possibilities and integrate them into the new better normal. Right now, ‘normal’ is meaningless, ease off on the pressure (because I know you already have a list of goals hidden somewhere), knock at the door of your curiosity and have some fun.

Once you’ve figured out what your curiosity is telling you, give it number one place on your list. Don’t hide away from it but lean in and see what happens. Imagine life in 2051. The curiosity you embrace now could be part of conventional and everyday life. Get to know your curiosity because she’s your new BFF.

It’s going to be magical.

Welcome 2021, we’re ready!

Grab a virtual coffee with me and let’s figure out the next step!

Image of Hannele Korhonen Legal Designer

Who’s writing?

Hi, I’m Hannele. I am an ex-corporate lawyer, legal designer, pioneer in legal tech, serial entrepreneur and blogger.  I am the founder and teacher in Lawyer’s Design School.

I’m here to teach you new skills and mindset of legal design to thrive in the future of law.

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