Advice from a Carolina Expert: How to Reach Your Goals in 2021 | Tar Heels Together

Advice from a Carolina Expert: How to Reach Your Goals in 2021

 Advice from a Carolina Expert: How to Reach Your Goals in 2021

Happy New Year Tar Heels! 2020 was nothing short of challenging, leaving many of our goals and aspirations untouched or unfinished. As we all look forward to a fresh start, University Career Services Associate Director Stephenie McIntyre, M.A., has great advice for bringing your goals into fruition in 2021.

Reflect: What did you learn in 2020?

The Bell Tower lit in blue for 2020 graduates.

The year 2020 was full of losses, yet there is a lot to gain from this experience. What did we collectively learn from last year? We learned to fully utilize our resources and technology; we were more intentional than ever with whom we surrounded ourselves; and we learned how to prepare ourselves emotionally and physically for future challenges. It’s a great time to reflect. What did you learn from 2020? What part of 2020 made you better? What do you know now in 2021 that you didn’t know before?


Puddle reflection of student walking about campus

An awareness of your interests, preferences, strengths, and values can drive your decision-making for the future. Because you are constantly evolving and developing new knowledge of yourself and the world around you, it is important to consider the following types of questions when thinking about your aspirations:

  • Do I currently have the skills or resources I need achieve this goal?
  • Why do I feel inclined to reach this goal?
  • What parts of me need to change in order to successfully achieve this goal?

Self-awareness is the first step in University Career Services “Four Steps to Career Success.

Be Driven By Purpose

UNC Scientist

Intentionally think about your goals before jumping head-on into action. While it may sound counterintuitive, this state of reflection will cause you to be driven more by purpose than just a flurry of activity. Remaining busy does not always equate to achievement. Being driven by purpose and having structure and a planned strategy will bring you success in 2021.

Write it Down!

Student writing in her agenda on a bench

Oftentimes people take immediate action on their goals in the new year. But once you have clarity on what you would like to achieve, consider writing down those goals — on a vision board, through journaling, on sticky notes on your bathroom mirror, wherever! Vividly describing dreams and goals in writing has worked wonders for people from all walks of life and keeps those goals visible and tangible as daily reminders of your purpose and intent.

Set Goals that are Measurable and Attainable

Stargazing at Morehead Planetarium

It is easy to get disappointed in the lack of progress made toward your goals if they are not realistic. Be sure to set a realistic timeframe so you can build on your achievements. For example, instead of setting your fitness goals to be met by this summer, consider thinking about these goals as a healthy lifestyle change that will last the entire year and for years to come. If you are seeking a summer internship, instead of randomly submitting your resume to companies, let the first step of this goal be to become more curious about your intended career field and start developing relationships with individuals who represent that line of work. It is also important to set a game plan that is measurable both in the immediate and the long term. Routinely check-in on your progress and hold yourself accountable to stay on the right track.

Accountability Partners and Celebrating Small Wins

Holy Moli 2017. Two girls covered in color pigments taking a selfie

Be familiar with your level of self-discipline. If self-discipline is something you struggle with, consider approaching your goals with an accountability partner. If there are certain things that could easily deter you from your goal, having someone in your life who can help keep you on track is a game-changer. Also, whether you are hitting the gym, securing a job or learning a new hobby, don’t forget to celebrate and reward yourself for staying on track along the way. Encouragement from your accountability partner and celebrating small wins are a perfect combination for achieving those new year goals.

Happy New Year Tar Heels! We can do this!

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