How I Set Goals for 2021: Real Life Examples

Systems, goals, challenges, habit stacking, 1% changes and an annual review. With the year we just had, I found it really difficult to get into a reflective mood and do an annual review of my 2020 goals to be able to make my 2021 goals.

A combination of much welcome and needed visitors after Covid restrictions eased off, school holidays and finding myself unemployed resulted in an unreflective head space.


Annual review: during 2020 I felt I sucked at so many things. I didn’t exercise like I planned, gained weight, didn’t tackle public speaking, had no personal sustainability goals, didn’t go on holidays … I’m guessing parts of my year were a lot like the year of other people.

This is in addition to our nine year old having heart surgery 300km from home in a lock down zone, and an adult daughter with a baby needing to escape a very dangerous domestic violence situation.

However, I did learn to teach 28 students remotely (whilst having my own young children at home), increased our net worth by more than my wages, kept in regular contact with family via Zoom, Snapchat and Messenger, and kept our immediate family healthy and well.

The positive state of our finances purely came down to systems and automation, requiring little effort from ourselves once set up. It’s our own personal combination of using the Barefoot Investor method for one wage, and investing the other wage into low cost index funds in the share market.

At the end of the year with my work contract ending, I taught myself how to set up and maintain an eCommerce store as an addition to the blog. This was a huge undertaking and I’m still on a steep learning curve!

There were definitely challenges to 2020 that will continue to affect 2021. From the global pandemic, to the personal challenge of being out of work.

2021 Goals

Our household goals have an overarching theme of sustainability and saving money. All our 2021 goals need to be in alignment with our theme. We do this by asking ourselves questions: is this frugal; what impact will it have on the environment; will it help or hinder our financial sustainability savings? Whilst it may seem an oxymoron to combine money and the environment, they are intricately interlinked as every dollar spent will either help or harm the planet.

Other considerations are making goals into SMART goals. Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-Sensitive.

SMART goals
SMART goals infographic

Another goal setting hint is to tap into the power of small 1% changes. Much like compounding interest, personal 1% changes compound over time to transform your life. James Clear has a cool strategy for making 1% changes even easier – attach a new habit to an existing habit, aka habit stacking.

The 2021 goal areas I chose are Relationship, Health, Personal, Finance, Career & Sustainability. Other areas you may like to consider when making your own goals are Community/Volunteering, and Spiritual goals.

Relationship Goals

I always make relationship goals my first priority goal as my family are the most important part of my life.

Goal: Go on a date with my husband once a month.

It doesn’t have to cost money as there are plenty of romantic frugal activities to enjoy together. This also keeps in alignment with our sustainability and saving money theme.

For the sake of the exercise of SMART goals, here’s the breakdown:

  • Specific: Going on dates with my husband
  • Measurable: Schedule our date on the calendar, not spend more than $30 on the date
  • Achievable: At the moment Mr Hack works weekends and I am home figuring out how to be an entrepreneur whilst out of work, so a Friday morning suits us both (and the kids are at school)
  • Relevant: Having a strong marriage is extremely relevant to us
  • Time-Sensitive: Every third Friday morning

Other goals I have under this topic are goals that involve my six children (28 years old all the way to 7 years old) and three grandchildren.


Without good health, everything else is much more difficult.

Whilst I am fully aware of this, I don’t always follow my own beliefs. During 2020, I gained weight and rarely exercised. Thankfully, I am still in good health, but know I can’t continue to be complacent.

A healthy weight range for my height (BMI) is between 55 kg and 69 kg. Currently I am slightly over that and have tipped over into the ‘overweight’ category. Sob, sob. My biggest difficultly is making this a dieting SMART goal and it’s one I am still struggling with.

The parameter I set for my fitness goal is to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day: either as a 30 minute block, or 2 x 15 minutes, or 3 x 10 minutes. Exercise includes bike riding, home weights, yoga/pilates on YouTube, mowing the lawn, playing frisbee/cricket etc with the kids, swimming, brisk walking or hiking. These are all free activities that are in alignment with our goal theme.

Personal Goals

The big scary goal – Toastmasters! Learning to do public speaking with confidence (and not turn into a sweaty mess with a scrambled brain). The SMART goal part is easy, it’s the doing that’s hard.

This year I am committed to doing Toastmasters. (Affirmative self talk!)

On a completely different topic: did you know that Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world, followed by Spanish, with English coming in third.

My really enormously huge long term personal goal is to speak these three languages fluently.

Because the goal is so big, I’ve broken it down into smaller goals. The small goal for this year is to reach Mandarin Chinese HSK 1 & 2 test levels. This is to gain professional recognition as a speaker of another language through the education department. Teaching students about Asia and being a global citizen is a cross curricular priority of Victorian education.

As a teacher, I created my own learning program which fits in with the theme of being frugal. The only gap in my learning is not having Mandarin speaking people to hang out with and consolidate my speaking skills.


  • Specific: Attain Mandarin Chinese HSK level 1 & 2
  • Measurable: HSK level 1 & 2 test results
  • Achievable: HSK 1 & 2 is equivalent to one year full time study and I am already over half way there
  • Relevant: Career upskilling, most widely spoken language in the world, understanding another culture
  • Time-Sensitive: 1.5 hours of study every weekday from 5.30 am; plus a two hour language exchange video call on the weekend; and language immersion at home

My other personal goal is to continuously increase my personal finance/eCommerce knowledge. I approach this goal a little differently as I don’t make it a SMART goal, I use the technique of habit stacking instead.

I take a habit I already do and attach another habit to it. For example: when cooking dinner, folding laundry, doing a weights workout at home, going for a drive over 30 minutes – I listen to a podcast about personal finance or eCommerce. Habit stacking is as simple as that and works an absolute treat.


We already have a system that works exceedingly well and we will continue to stick with living from one wage the Barefoot Investor way, and using the other wage to invest in shares.

Unfortunately, I do not have a contracted teaching job this year due to a lack of work in my region. It’s a complicated situation for us. If we move to an area where there is more work for my occupation, then Mr Hack will be out of work. He has a specialist trade as a textile mechanic in manufacturing which is an industry that has mostly moved off-shore. His mum is going through treatment for terminal cancer, and our nine year old son has a heart condition requiring check ups at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. Our current location is specific to our needs.

So, to cut a long story short, we are currently living off one wage and not investing a second income.

Here’s the details on how we divide up our money (one wage only):

  • 70% Daily Expenses (mortgage, regular bills, food, fuel, smaller costs, budgeted for gifts)
  • 5% each, Splurge (personal do what you want, no questions asked money)
  • 10% Fire Extinguisher (unexpected bills)
  • 10% Smile (holiday fund – or what it is that makes you smile)
  • Mojo: any money over $1,000 in the Fire Extinguisher gets funnelled into Mojo with the aim of reaching at least three months of living expenses

When we get back on track financially, we’ll continue to invest all of my wages into index funds in the share market.

Career Goals

It seemed a natural flow on after writing about finances to write about career goals.

  1. Continue teaching. I have nine years experience teaching primary school students and with the lack of work in this setting in my region, I’ve decided that being a ‘teacher’ can have a much broader meaning. Perhaps teaching adults, secondary school students, migrants, tutoring, online … I’m keeping an open mind to opportunity.
  2. Continue to build the money earning capacity of this blog by writing regular articles, embracing opportunities such being a guest on podcasts (public speaking!) and collaborating with other content creators. This is in addition to affiliate links, Adsense and referrals.
  3. Create and teach webinar based mushroom growing courses, and beginners personal finance/budgeting courses – as an additional income from the blog.
  4. Keep building my eCommerce store Sustainable Living Shop Online (imagine if it could earn as much as a teacher’s wage!)

I have difficulty calling myself an entrepreneur as my side hustles (blog & eCommerce) don’t currently earn a liveable wage.

At what point does one call them self an entrepreneur? Or self-employed? Maybe I need a business mentor?


We have already put in a lot of effort into having a more sustainable household, but there is definitely room for improvement!

By making sustainable changes we have been able to save more money whilst at the same time not create so much waste.

An easy sustainability change is to stop buying single use items. Replace plastic disposable razors with a metal reusable safety razor; swap cling wrap for beeswax wraps and containers; ditch paper towel and cleaning wipes for washable cloths; and, remove tissues from the shopping list and use hankies. These sustainable items are all products in my online shop. The shop was created to make it easier for you to make sustainable purchases. Whilst it may seem more expensive at first to purchase a sustainable product, it is in fact a lot cheaper as you only need to buy this product once and can use it repeatedly, without creating environmental waste.

My 2021 sustainability goals are to aim for zero food waste and only buy second hand clothes for the year, excluding undies, bras, socks, shoes and kids’ clothing.

The zero food waste goals will be tracked daily. So far the results are not looking good! I’m quite shocked actually.

Goal Setting Summary

Choose which areas of your life you feel you need to improve: Relationship, Health, Personal, Finance, Career, Sustainability, Volunteering/Community or Spiritual. Choose as few or as many goals as you need.

If your goal is huge, break it down into smaller chunks and go one step at a time.

When making your own goals, make them SMART goals. Specific – Measurable – Achievable – Relevant – Time-Specific.

Set up systems that make it easy to achieve your goals. For example, automating the Barefoot Investor method.

Consider implementing habit stacking – attach a new habit to an already existing habit.

Be proud of any improvements! Those small 1% changes compound over time to become positively life changing.

At the end of the year conduct an annual review and reflect on your goals.

Then make new goals with a new year and continue the cycle of self-improvement.

What are your 2021 goals? Please scroll down to the comments box and share your goals!

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