Reflections and Goal Setting (Success Journaling style!)

As we draw towards the end of 2020, have you been thinking about what has happened in your life this year and what 2021 will hold?

I have been and, of course, it’s something I’ve been journaling about.

Whether you’re a new or regular journaler, or journaling is something you’ve wondered about trying and never have, now is the perfect time to turn to the page to appreciate and acknowledge how far you’ve come in 2020 and to consider what you want your life to look like over the next year.

You don’t need me to tell you that 2020 has been an unusual year, most likely unlike any other we’ve known. And the turn of the calendar isn’t going to magic the associated challenges away. But, it’s an opportunity to take stock, reframe and set expectations for the New Year based on how we want it to unfold. That way we’re defining our own guiding parameters to work within and are setting off with positive intention, focused on what’s important to us and within our control.

As for the rest? Well, let’s make sure we’ve got each other.

If we haven’t properly met before, I’m Elle Turner, a writer, business mindset mentor and course creator for intelligent, compassionate entrepreneurs and creatives (that’s you 😘) who want to build and grow their own, unique, heart-led business. 

My method of Success Journaling uses the principles of fiction (for example, character, setting and dialogue) as a structure for personal growth and your business and creative companion. The journaling exercises below give you just a small taste. If you’re interested in finding out more, I’d love to see you  inside my free private Facebook group, Success Story Journalers ( so that you can cultivate the clarity and supportive mindset you need to take confident action towards your business and creative goals.

Before we start…

Before we dive into the exercises, though, I want to acknowledge that the prevalence of goal setting advice, particularly at this time of year, can feel overwhelming. And it’s not only because there are so many different ways to goal set, but also because it can feel like an artificial pressure to come out the gate swinging just because you’ve hung up a new calendar.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are two reasons I don’t find goal setting a pressure and, if these reasons resonate with you, you won’t either. The whole process will be more fun and will result in the clarity and supportive mindset you need to take positive action in 2021 to move in the right direction – and, to me, that’s the whole point.




Because my life and business is about continuous progression in an positive direction, not striving for something that may or may not happen within an arbitrary time period.

For sure it’s sensible to have tangible targets and pay attention to how you FEEL about the progress you’re making, but our lives and businesses evolve and our plans should be flexible enough to accommodate that without leading to us attach an unnecessary label of failure, just because of an annual goal setting exercise.

Which leads me to the 2nd reason that I don’t buy into goal setting pressure:


I review, refresh and reset my goals regularly

Let me be clear, this isn’t to chop and change my mind, get caught up in shiny object syndrome or because of lack of focus. It’s because what’s important to me is knowing the direction I want to go in, making sure I’m on that trajectory and how I feel about my progress that matters.

With this in mind, grab your journal and a pen and let’s get started on a label free review of 2020 and some pressure free direction setting for 2021!


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Reflecting on 2020

Well, it’s been a big one. If you’ve had a hard year, I send you love. I think we’ve all had the opportunity to learn about ourselves, those around us and what’s important both personally and globally. Through embracing the phoenix from the ashes, let’s look back calmly and forward with positive anticipation, compassion and faith in the human spirit. We’ve got this.



  • What is your overall impression of how 2020 has treated you?

Look back over your diary or planner for the year to remind yourself about what you’ve done.

  • What lessons can you draw from this that you want to act on in 2021?


  • Review the goals you had for the year. How did you get on?
  • Consider and decide upon which you want to ditch, modify or carry forward as we go into 2021?
  • Note down your achievements for the year. Take time to think about and record small achievements, as well as any bigger ones that jump into your mind more immediately.


Think of all the areas of your life that are important to you, for example: Health, Relationships, Work, Leisure, Personal success, Other

  • What did your life look like in each of these areas this year?
  • Which areas experienced the biggest positive impact this year?
  • Why do you think this is? What was your mindset around this area?
  • What was your biggest achievement?
  • What was your mindset as you took the action that resulted in this?


  • How have YOU changed over the course of the year?
  • Who are you?
  • What matters to you?
  • What makes up your identity?
  • Is this who you want to be?


Consider what you tell yourself about your abilities and achievements.

  • What words do you use?
  • Are they helping or hindering you?
  • What would you like to say to yourself based on what you’ve learned from reviewing 2020?



Looking forward to 2021


  • Taking into considering what you learned from reflecting on 2020, what are your hopes and aspirations for the next year? 


Think of all the areas of your life that are important to you, for example: Health, Relationships, Work, Leisure, Personal success, Other

  • What do you want from each of these areas in 2021? 
  • How do you want to feel in each of these areas?
  • Do you want to focus on any one of these areas particularly in 2021?
  • What do you need to believe about yourself and your abilities to take positive action towards achieving what you want from each area?
  • How are you going to cultivate these supportive beliefs?


Consider your review of Character for 2020 and, in particular your answer to ‘Is this who you want to be?’

  • What do you want to work on maintaining or changing over the next year?
  • How do you want predominantly to feel in your day to day life?
  • Who will you be at the end of 2021?


  • What do you want to say to support your progress towards your goals this year?

This could be a mantra or affirmations, or it could be making a commitment to observe, consider and improve the way you communicate both with yourself and others.


Looking back over what you’ve written:

  • What are your top THREE priorities to work on in 2021? 
  • How will these help you achieve what you want and become the person you want to be?
  • How will you take action towards these priorities?
  • What mindset work will support your actions?
  • What resources do you currently have that will help you?
  • What other resources, if any, do you need to get?


Tips for completing the exercises


This is an optional way to start any journaling exercise or session. Taking a few minutes to write yourself in gets your pen moving and your brain operating at handwriting speed (which is likely slower than it goes most of the time). You don’t need to write “about” anything, just get some words on the page to help you transfer your thoughts from from whatever you were doing before to the journaling you’re doing now.

Write deeper

Keep asking yourself WHY? when you state a reason or opinion in your writing. Often the first thing we think of, the first idea we have or reason we give for something is not the best one. Compare your first responses with those you end up with. What would you have missed if you had moved on taking only version one of each exercise with you?

Turn reflection into action

Journaling is an excellent way to reflect on your life, your experiences (good and bad), your actions and reactions, what you want and don’t want for your life, how you’d like to feel, what you’d like to do…the list could go on and on.

Reflection is a valuable process but, if you're reflecting on a difficult period in your life, it may have a detrimental effect if you don’t take conscious steps to work through the situation so that a positive action comes from it. It may be that you need professional help with this, so please seek it if that's the case. Although journaling has been found to have a positive effect on well-being, it’s not a substitute for qualified medical advice, care and support if you need it.



It’s so good to take some time to think diligently about what you want and what’s going to help you achieve it.

Now you have clarity around what you want to achieve, you’ve considered the mindset that will support you and how to cultivate it and you have defined the actions you need to take. You’re now ready to start moving in the right direction and can review, refresh and reset as you go.

Great job!

Here’s to your success and fulfilment in 2021!

Elle xo


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