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3 Fundamental Questions for Evaluating 2020 and Planning 2021

3 Fundamental Questions for Evaluating 2020 and Planning 2021

Having no targets is like shooting hail at random in all directions, hoping to hit a duck. Having goals without an action plan is slightly better, but no guarantee of success. So what then?

In this article I am going to explain the 3 fundamental questions you have to ask yourself or your organization for evaluating 2020 and planning 2021 the right way.

Prepare yourself for success, you deserve it!

To start with a spoiler – these are the basic questions:

  • How were the results in 2020?
  • Where am I at present?
  • What do I want to happen in 2021?

Each question can be divided into a number of sub-questions. Sometimes difficult to answer. In any case, take a serious look at it, because thinking about it is already a step in the right direction.

Evaluating 2020 and Planning 2021

Evaluating 2020 and Planning 2021

You can look at goal setting solely from a business perspective. Personally I think it’s good to have goals for your private life as well. Whether you combine the two or look at them separately is up to you.

I make dream boards to visualize my goals. As a starting point I list the goals I want to reach and then look in magazines or on the internet for accompanying pictures, or I (or Tom) makes them. For instance, when we were in a garage to look for a camper Tom made pictures of me behind the wheel and sitting inside.

How were the results in 2020?

Have a look at the goals you set for this year and evaluate them. You will have a general idea of your results in 2020. To make it more specific, you can ask yourself these questions:

  1. What went wrong this year?
  2. What did I do wrong this year?
  3. What went great this year?
  4. What did I do right this year?

When you give a critique to someone else it’s always best to start on a positive note. In this case, when you ask yourself the 4 questions, it’s better to start with the negative and end with the positive ones. It will leave you with a much better feeling about yourself.

Confront yourself about the things you did wrong, be honest. Yet, don’t beat yourself up about mistakes. We all make them and (hopefully) learn from them. And be sure to praise yourself for what you did right or excellent.

For the first time, I am also making a list this year of 100 things in 2020 I am grateful for. In my journal I write daily what I am grateful for and this has a positive effect on my well-being. So I want to extend that now to the whole year.

Related: 11 Simple Steps to Change your Life no Matter what Age you are

Where am I at present?

What are your strengths and weaknesses

One of the tools you can use to determine what your position or that of your business is, is making a SWOT-analysis:

  1. Internal factors – Strengths
  2. Internal factors – Weaknesses
  3. External factors – Opportunities
  4. External factors – Threats

I find it much harder to determine the external factors, than the internal ones. I pretty well know what my strengths and weaknesses are, but in deciding on the opportunities or threats I am more insecure.

That reminds me of an anecdote I once heard: Two shoe salesmen are sent to Africa to investigate the marketing chances. The first one very soon calls his boss and asks if he can return. “Nobody wears shoes over here so our chances are zero”. The other one calls his boss exhilarated. “Boss! Nobody wears shoes, we have a whole market to explore!”

It not only shows that one is pessimistic and the other one optimistic, probably by nature. But it also makes clear how there are different choices to be made with the same set of data. How to decide what is the right choice?

Other tools

Some say the SWOT-analysis is too negative and prefer a SOAR-analysis: Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results.

Or you can use an analysis that is based on external factors, like the PEST-analysis: Political, Economic, Socio-cultural and Technological.

If you haven’t done any analysis yet, you can try several to determine what works best for you. Another tip I recommend is to ask others what they consider your strengths and weaknesses. Especially if you have friends who frankly tell you what they think, this can be a great gift.

What do I want to happen in 2021?

Goals 2021

Make a list of everything you would like to happen or you want in the next year. You can make the list as long as you want. And I would certainly add things that either scare you because they are too big, or seem to be impossible.

It’s dreaming about everything you want out of life. And when you dream there are no limits. The remark of others to be realistic, is often an attempt to keep you at their level.

That’s why the SMART-tool can be better replaced by SMARTER (another abbreviation!).

SMART goals are:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant);
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating);
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable);
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based);
  • Time-bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

SMARTER is better

In Michael Hyatt’s Your best year ever I read about the SMARTER goals, which appeal to me more than the sensible SMART ones:

  • Specific;
  • Measurable;
  • Actionable;
  • Risky;
  • Time-keyed;
  • Exciting;
  • Relevant.

Elaborating on the SWOT-analysis

Now that you know the best way to describe your goals you can develop a strategy for 2021, using these questions:

  1. How can you build on your Strengths;
  2. Is there a way to overcome your Weaknesses;
  3. How to use the Opportunities;
  4. How to avoid the Threats.

From there you work your way back to smaller, manageable steps. Divide the year in parts for each quarter. Divide the quarters in steps for each month, and those in weeks.

It seems like a lot of work (frankly, it is), but it will save you a lot of work in the end, and it makes the chances for success so much bigger.

The strategy that works best for me

Dreamboard: Social Interaction

Above I have mentioned my dream boards. I always make several of them. One for the whole year about both business and private life. And others about a specific subject, like Travel – the where and how I want to travel – or Social Interaction – a dream of having a terrain with a sustainable energy source, an organic vegetables garden, camper spots, cabins and flex workplaces with WiFi.

These are quite big dreams, some will even take years. So I divide those in actionable steps, 7 at the time and these are smaller images in the colors of the rainbow. In summary:

  • Writing a goal in my journal. This is stated positive and in the present, as if I have already reached the goal*;
  • Making an image of the result of my goal and including a picture of myself in it;
  • During my morning routine visualizing the goal with the help of that image;
  • Telling about it in an accountability FB group I am part of;
  • Discussing strategies with my business coach on how to achieve it.

*The first time I practiced setting goals I was in a group of people who commented on each other’s goals to make them stronger. I immediately got the advice to change my goal “I have no back pain” to something like “I have a strong back”.

The reason for using positive phrases is simple. If you mention something in the negative, that will be in the top of your mind. Our mind doesn’t understand no or not. If I tell you not to think about your knee, that’s exactly what you will think about.

Final words

Write down your goals

There is a demonstrable difference in the level of success you achieve when you write down your goals and when you don’t.

When you write them down you will notice the necessity to formulate very clear what it is you want. And even then you will discover at times you phrased it not specific enough. To give an example: I wanted a sign up for Wealthy Affiliate through my link. And when I got it, I discovered I had left the word Premium out, I wanted a Premium sign up for Wealthy Affiliate.

Related: Earn a Side Income as a Pensioner – Become an Affiliate

Sometimes force majeure ensures that you do not achieve your goals. Tom and I planned to travel last May, but the very strict lockdown in Spain because of the virus from March until – off and on – today prevents us from traveling.

You’ll have to be flexible enough to adjust the goals whenever necessary.

Make 2021 your best year ever!

Are you used to making goals? Let us know in the comment box.

12 thoughts on “3 Fundamental Questions for Evaluating 2020 and Planning 2021”

  1. Hi Hannie,

    I always seem to set goals for myself, and the vast majority of the time I achieve them.

    However, something that is definitely my “weakness” is that I often fail to evaluate what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved, and potential areas of improvement, or basically things that didn’t go so well.

    With that said, I think you’re perfectly correct here, and actually evaluating and going back over things is a great way to not only motivate yourself when things have gone right, but also a way to see what you haven’t done so well.

    How do we improve otherwise?

    Funnily enough, I’ve tried things like vision boards and visualization many times, but I’m not entirely sure whether it really works or resonates strongly enough with me.

    Even after all these years, I still have difficulty in working out what it is that truly motivates me.

    But, after reading this today, I am going to make an a concerted effort to go over what has happened in 2020.

    I mean, it’s been one of the weirdest years ever for ALL of us, so I think it will do me good to look back over the year.

    I’m yet to work out what I’m looking to achieve in 2021, but this is also definitely in my to-do list.

    I actually remember my Uncle used to make me and my cousins do this when we were children, but we always looked upon at a chore, LOL.

    I guess he was trying to instill a good habit in us, so you’ve certainly reminded me of that.


    • I am amazed to hear you don’t actually know what drives you, Partha, you come across as a very driven person. Obviously you still have the idea it is a chore to work on putting down goals. A pity in my eyes.

      What helps me is asking ‘why’ an awful lot of times. If I am stating a goal, I ask why. Then I try to explain it further, and yet again ask why. And so on. The rule of thumb is to ask it 7 times, but in my view it doesn’t really matter how many times you ask it, as long as you don’t quit too soon.

      LOL, I bet that next time you will make a vision board you have to think of Blake whats-her-name all the time, don’t you?

  2. Hi Hannie,

    I often set goals and every week I write down my weekly goals, which I organize by day. I have not much focused on personal goals but more on business goals. I think I should also include goals for my personal life. I need to sit down and write it all.
    It’s a good suggestion to look at 2020 and see what you have achieved and what you still have to work on. I think I will do that before the year is over. Accountability groups also sound like a great help, they will keep you going and giving you that push, right? Maybe I should look into that too. Where do I find them? On Facebook?

    • Hi Christine, yes, I am a big believer of needing to have a balance between life and business, that’s why I try to have an evenly divided number of goals for both areas.

      I guess there will be accountability groups on FB. Mine is, but it is part of the coaching program I am following, so not freely accessible. And groups like that are surely a big help. You can also make your own accountability group, it’s not that hard. I have an American friend with whom I Zoom-call every 2 weeks. We tell about the past 2 weeks and what we want to do the next 2 weeks. We cheer each other on, we kick each other’s butt if necessary. More or less the same as what happens with my coach and fellow coached ones. Just the energy is different of course, but I like those 2 different atmospheres.

  3. Hi Hannie,

    It’s great that I came across your article, as I am currently planning for 2021. I have nearly completed my evaluation of the year, but I feel I need to use your advice to dig a little bit deeper. I must focus on what went right, more than what went wrong. By doing this I will keep my thoughts and my evaluation positive. I also want to focus on how I strengthened my relationships and built trust. By doing this, I know who to focus on at the beginning of 2021 to continue building trust, increasing my influence and strengthening relationships.

    Thank you for sharing and I will let you know what my 2021 plan looks like soon.

    All the best,


  4. Hi Hannie. Thank you for reminding me of the necessity to review my progress over 2020 and learn from any mistakes as well as pat myself on the back for what I have done well.

    Perfect timing since we just passed the one year mark of establishing our websites.

    I will certainly be referencing your article when I sit down to evaluate 2020.

    I have not yet tried a vision board and will work on doing that before the new year.

    We do however have a “Success Jar”. This is a very simple concept. Each day we writedown our successes that day and place them in our jar. If we are having a bad day and can’t seem to get our mind in the right place to accomplish anything we sit and open up the jar and start reading about successes.

    Those successes don’t need to be anything huge. It could be as simple as I got up without hitting the snooze button on the alarm today if that was something that you were struggling with.

    We put everything in there business and personal. It is really helpful to read how many successes we really have.

    We also like to read our successes new years eve to start the new year on a positive note.

    I haven’t heard of accountability groups before. Where do I find one?

    You also mentioned a coach, where do you find a business coach?

    • Hi Deb, what a smashing idea, your Success Jar! Marvelous. I am sure that will work well. And congratulations on your 1 year birthday 🙂 Awesome. <3

      My accountability group is part of the (paid) program of my coach. You asked where to find a coach. There are lots of coaches of course, but I like mine best. 🙂 He has 5-day Focus&Results Masterclasses that are free to join. So you can dip your toes in the water riskfree.

      Also have a look at the answer I gave Christine!

  5. You know, I gotta say… I didn’t expect to see SWOT analysis in there. That alone made me want to bookmark your site, as that’s something within the advanced realms of analysis. With that being said, we’re talking real business in this article, seems like an interesting diversion from your usual works.

  6. Hey Hannie, thank you for a great Post on self evaluation. I fully believe in the “SMARTER” approach as the “Exciting” addition opens up a whole spectrum of possibilities and improves the SMART approach, therefore making it more attractive to analyse.

    When people see testimonials about self analysis and future goals they are often put off as they are frightened of failure or admitting they have got things wrong in the past. I remember a friend of mine telling me that when you go to the gym you should leave your ego on the hangar as you walk in. That is exactly what you should do with self analysis. It may be difficult to start with but once you have carried this out you can plan a future to suit yourself and your aspirations.

    One way of aspiring to better things is through setting goals like building your own business. I fully concur that Wealthy Affiliate is an excellent example of a training platform that can help you achieve this. Thanks again for a great Post. 

    • Hi David, I totally agree with you, SMARTER is much more fun to work with and therefore giving better results than SMART.

      It’s never nice to have to admit making mistakes, but if we don’t, we won’t grow either. I can see your analogy with leaving your ego behind when entering the gym. Especially from my own experience, LOL, when I always wanted to be invisble with all those Delft-Blue men around me!

      Thank you for commenting!

  7. You have said so much here that emulates what I’ve been thinking about. I do plan ahead, though expect some detours and roadblocks along the way. And I have been actively planning 2021 for some time now.

    I like the way you visualize and journal your goals. I do journal, but don’t always focus on goals. Maybe it’s time to start.

    Thanks for the very detailed information. I’ll be utilizing some of your ideas going forward, especially the visualization!

    • Great to hear, Diane. I love it when my articles are an inspiration to others, big or small parts of it, that doesn’t matter.

      And good of you to actively plan. Of course there will be detours or obstacles, we all get them at times, but when you plan and now why you plan, you will be flexible enough to get over them. 🙂

      Good luck!


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