Hindsight is 2020: New Year Goal Setting for Businesses

December 29, 2020

New year goal setting may feel like a daunting task this year. Find out how successful people before us turned challenges into opportunity.

Hindsight is 2020 Cover Image 1

“Hindsight is 2020” has a new meaning, ever since our nation and world experienced seemingly unending blows over the course of the past 365 days.  The tragic end for a basketball great and his young daughter, devastating tornadoes, horrific wildfires, a worldwide pandemic, widespread police brutality and corruption, a controversial election, a Christmas Day bombing.  So, where do we go from here?  Looking ahead to the new year—2021—what figures do we use as a launchpad for what we want to achieve?  In other words, how will businesses approach new year goal setting?  Considering all the anomalies we experienced, each one a battering ram against our hopes, how will we ever move forward?

Well, we will move forward, but not without focus and dedication to the cause.  So, straight from the mouths of successful people before us, here is how businesses can approach new year goal setting, as though our entire being depends on it. 

Real Goal Setting

In reality, our entire being does depend on how we approach new year goal setting for 2021.  If we don’t set goals, we are destined to flounder aimlessly until someone pulls out the compass and puts it to use.  It should be known that despite the madness of 2020, we are not the only people to experience hardships.  Here are some greats of the past, who set their sights on what they would achieve, instead of letting the obstacles ruin them.

Portrait of Orison Swett Marden.
Orison Swett Marden | Source

Goal Setting and Orison Swett Marden

Goal: Stay dedicated to your goals, despite the circumstances.

Orison Swett Marden, an American inspirational author, said, “All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”  Marden knew a thing or two about hard times, considering he lost both his parents before he turned 8 years old.  The blows didn’t stop there.  A self-made man in the hospitality industry, Marden narrowly escaped death in his hotel fire, and watched as the flames took the only copy of his 5,000-page manuscript for what would be his first book.  Undeterred by the circumstances, Marden began rewriting the manuscript before the embers from the fire grew cold. 

Portrait of Michelle Obama.
Michelle Obama | Source

Goal Setting and Michelle Obama

Goal: Know who you are and stay true to yourself.

Michelle Obama was not only an outstanding First Lady, but she was also the wife to our first Black president.  Without a doubt, she faced opposition on many fronts during her career as First Lady.  “One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.”

Related:  Can Reskilling Employees Solve the Skills Gap?

Goal Setting and Cesar Chavez

Goal: Make your community’s success part of your own success plan.

Photo of Cesar Chavez, a serious look on his face, appearing to be talking about goals.
Cesar Chavez | Source

This great labor leader from the West—Cesar Chavez—is only outshone by Martin Luther King, Jr. in his day.   The two worked on opposite sides of the country to peacefully seek fairness for all American workers.  He recognized the beauty of the American Dream, but not at the cost of those who were the rungs of the workforce ladder.  “It is not enough to teach our young people to be successful…so they can realize their ambitions, so they can earn good livings, so they can accumulate the material things that this society bestows. Those are worthwhile goals. But it is not enough to progress as individuals while our friends and neighbors are left behind.”

Goal Setting and Muhammed Ali

Photo of Muhammad Ali wearing a boxing robe.
Muhammad Ali | Source

Goal:  Learn to recognize and appreciate others’ differences, and the goals they set for themselves.

Muhammad Ali is arguably the greatest boxer of all time.  Not only did he push the limits in the ring, but he pushed American citizens who were content with the status quo in the arena of civil rights during the 1960s.  Ali did not talk like other boxers, he didn’t fight like other fighters, and in his wake, we see the bigger picture that his endgame was so much more than just boxing.  “I am America.  I am the part you won’t recognize.  But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.” 

Goal Setting and Maya Angelou

Goal: Be passionate about your cause, and perform your duties to the best of your ability.

Photo of Maya Angelou, in front of a microphone, appearing to be talking about goals.
Maya Angelou | Source

Finally, it seems appropriate to end this list with a quote from the beloved poet Maya Angelou.  After experiencing horrific trauma at the age of 8, Angelou became mute for nearly five years.  Once a teacher helped her learn to speak again, Angelou went on to accomplish great things.  A little-known fact about Angelou is that she was San Francisco’s first Black female cable car conductor, after fervently vying for the job.  In later years, she became the recipient of a lifetime achievement award from Conference of Minority Transportation Officials.  “You can only become accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”  

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Goals for 2021

Currently, “Hindsight is 2020” means we—in 2020—look back and remember the better times we had before this “disastrous year,” and how things may never be “the same.”  However, the flip side of that coin is perhaps there is an entirely different meaning altogether.  Suppose in the future we will look at 2020 and see all the good things that came of our hardships.  Perhaps we will see an improvement in healthcare and national emergency preparedness and response.  Maybe we will see the gift of time we received with our loved ones.  Perhaps we will see how we made progress in civil rights.  Hopefully we will recognize how our business leaders figured out ways to pivot on a dime, not only surviving the storm, but thriving. 

If we don’t see those things, maybe part of our new year goal setting could be that we resolve to open our eyes with renewed perspective.  It would be wise to see life through the lens of the greats who went before us, viewing challenges as integral to our success.

Wishing a healthy, happy, prosperous, and thoughtful New Year to you and yours.

Photo of fireworks against a dark sky, with the words Happy New Year scribbled in light.

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