2021 SMART Goals

Julia A. Pulver, RN, MSN, CCM
6 min readDec 31, 2020
May her memory be a revolution. RBG wants you to keep going.

Ok, so… yes 2020 has been the worst year on record. Which seemed like an apt culmination of one of the worst eras in American history. It’s been a lot to deal with, and today, many people are feeling like they’ve hit rock bottom. While there are glimmers of hope on the horizon for 2021 (COVID vaccine, Biden/Harris, mask bonfires, etc) many people are feeling pretty helpless on the last day of this year long train wreck.

Personally, 2020 has been a year full of loss, disappointment, fear, grief and sorrow. My usual coping mechanisms (which mostly involves HUGS FROM PEOPLE) were gone. I tried to pull off a big political upset again, and of course, lost again, for third time in a row. (BTW, losing after so many people put their time, energy and MONEY into you, time and time again, is nearly enough to break even the strongest person.) I tried to multitask being a teacher to the four #PulverBears since March while working full time and running a campaign….and failed spectacularly. (Soooo many emails from the school, yes I know they are late on every assignment and failed to do attendance, again…)I spent a significant part of the year in constant fear that my colleagues in the realm of healthcare would be lost, that my husband who works as chef in a grocery store, interacting with the public 70 hours per week (no joke) would be infected, and contemplating my own mortality. I mean really contemplating if my affairs were in order should I wind up dead in three weeks time from any given moment. Worst of all, my sister lost her father, an army veteran and OR nurse, in June (same mom, different dads). And I couldn’t physically be there for her. His death was sudden and traumatic, and I felt so helpless sitting at home while she was living through Hell. While my world as I knew it crumbled, and my hopes for the future were dashed, I found myself facing a choice: let the anxiety and depression take me, or find a way to rise from the ashes.

Well in my professional career as a nurse, and especially as a nurse case manager, I have a lot of experience guiding people through the worst times in their life. For most people who go through catastrophes, the long term future is unknown and overwhelming to comprehend. During times of crisis, you can’t think about years or decades into the future, you can only think about the short term: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly. But what gets someone through a trauma is to set little goals, get some wins under their belts, and suddenly, the bigger goals in life seem a little closer. Your world seems like it’s possibly going to be ok again. Little wins are what you need to keep going.

Little wins, like getting the best Mother’s Day gift ever: a L’il Sebastian T-shirt from my daughter Sadie

As we are still in, but on the precipice of potentially moving past, our collective trauma, it’s hard to focus on the future. (We’ve all had a year of future plans being ruined and are not about to put our hearts through any more cancellations.) But on New Year’s Eve, we naturally all tend to look towards the future, and make resolutions to better ourselves in some tangible way. These resolutions are generally abandoned by mid-February and eh, whatever, who cares? The stakes have never really been that high before. This NYE is different of course. Everything matters all the time. We need this next year to be better. And believe it or not, we do have some control over it.

So this year, instead of making vague resolutions about losing weight, taking up some new hobby or routine, or pie in the sky proclamations about changing the whole of society, I propose we turn to the tool used by care managers, counselors and social workers everywhere to make some short term goals for ourselves that we can actually achieve by this time next year. Instead of resolutions for 2021, let’s make some SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goals. Let’s get some wins under our belts, because my goodness, do we need some wins!

So think of some SMART goals, things that you can control, regardless of what’s happening around you. SMART goals are going to be completely personal, dependent on your life, situation and resources. I realize mine may be vastly different than yours, and that’s ok. Your SMART goals are meant to start giving you chances to rack up some Ws on your own terms. With that said, I’ll give you an example to work with.

So here’s my 2021 SMART Goals:

Honored to be Matron of Honor in my sissy’s upcoming wedding Aug 2021
  1. Fulfill my duties as Matron of Honor for my sister’s wedding. My sister’s wedding is August 21, 2021, and I will make sure she has the best wedding possible. I can be there for her this time.
  2. Complete my MSN degree. I am on track to complete my Master of Science in Nursing degree by December 2021. I will complete all my assignments on time and complete my practicum before this date next year. Putting my time, effort and money into this will give me a guaranteed positive outcome, no voting needed.
You can sign up to volunteer too!

3. Volunteer at vaccination clinics at least once a week. I have signed up through the state of Michigan’s volunteer program to administer vaccines. I will use my intramuscular (IM) injection skills to help get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible. I will also use my case management skills to ensure people RETURN for their second set of injections so they become fully vaccinated. My goal will be to personally vaccinate 5,000 people by the end of 2021. (Sign up to volunteer HERE!)

The homepage of The Guerilla Politic https://www.theguerrillapolitic.com/

4. Recruit, train and mentor candidates for local office. Although I have been unsuccessful as a candidate, I have learned a few things along the way. I ran the last three cycles in a row for many reasons, but one of the biggest was that I felt there were not a whole heck of a lot of other good candidates ready and willing to jump into competitive races with both feet. My goal is to work with The Guerilla Politic (a local grassroots, woman run, campaign juggernaut) to start the hard work of building our bench of progressive candidates for the long haul. My goal is to recruit, train and mentor at least 3 candidates for local office in 2021.

These are the four SMART goals I am going to focus on for 2021. These are specific (you know exactly what I’m going for), measurable (you’ll be able to check back in next NYE to see if I met these goals or not), achievable (yes, I can actually do these things) relevant (all of these goals mean the world to me, I am incredibly motivated to accomplish them), and timely (I’ve given a due date for each one.) Each little step I accomplish towards these goals and check off my list (i.e. scheduling bridal fittings, turning in a paper, completing a shift vaccinating people, having a good conversation with a city council candidate, etc) I will have a little victory. Then I will have a whole bunch of little wins to build on. This will give me a year’s worth of little infusions of dopamine and oxytocin to keep me going.

So think about making a list of SMART goals tonight instead of resolutions. We are going to need a year’s worth of wins to start to turn this thing around. Even making the list will give you a little rush of happy brain chemicals.

Here’s to 2021. We made it. Now keep going! What’s your SMART goal?



Julia A. Pulver, RN, MSN, CCM

Julia A. Pulver has been an RN for over 17 years. She has spent her career working with the most at risk populations in Southeast Michigan. #PostRoeHarm