Do you like setting New Year’s Goals? In the past, I scoffed when I heard about “New Year’s Resolutions” because I felt like they were goals just asking to not be met. But since then, I’ve changed my ways. I’ve learned that it’s less about what goal I am shooting for and more about what lifestyle I am creating for myself. In this post, I want to walk you through my goal setting process. And if the New Year is nowhere in sight for you, have no fear, you can do this at ANY point. In fact, I did this in November!
Celebrate Last Year’s Successes
I know, I know, you kind of want to say “Bye Felicia” to last year. Fresh starts are always exciting. But I find that when we focus too much on a “fresh start” we fail to recognize the awesome progress we already made. So for the first step, I recommend setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and writing down everything that you accomplished this last year.
Don’t Skip This!
I made the mistake of thinking briefly “Oh I don’t need to do that” and tried to move on, but felt like I had such a Negative Nellie attitude about the previous year, and a very negative perception of me. I told myself “I didn’t do anything last year.” But then when I made my list, I was shocked. For example, I didn’t even give my credit for earning my Doctorate degree! That was a HUGE deal and by overlooking this step, I would have not given credit for that.
You need to be able to see a sense of accomplishment in the previous year–that gives you more momentum for crushing goals in the following year. So celebrate those successes, no matter how small they might feel to you.
Identify Key Areas
If you participated in my Free Piece-Ful Pursuit of Balance Course, then this is no new news for you. Take a moment to identify key areas of your life. For example, here are mine:
I recommend keeping it to under 6.
Paint a Vision for Your Life
Now take a moment to write about each of these key areas. What do you want your life to look like in this area?
Let me give you some examples from mine:
Family: I want to raise a family that maintains close relationships. As we grow older, I want us to cherish one another and seek opportunities to be together. I want to raise my children in the Gospel, so as life throws them around, they have a solid lifeline to gasp onto so they feel love & peace despite the chaos.
Blog/Business: I want to create tools and resources to help others consistently improve throughout their lives.
Financial: I want our family to be debt-free. I want us to be consistently putting money towards savings.
I highly recommend praying before you do this–I found that the ideas came much more clearly once I prayed about it.
Do any of the visions you painted for your life contradict one another? That is one big mistake people make. They dream big, but they don’t pay attention to areas that might be contradictory. For example, your priority might be to go on more family vacations, but you might also have a goal to be debt-free. Not that the two need to be mutually exclusive, but be attentive to the ways that some of your goals might be competing with one another.
This doesn’t take much time, just look at your vision for your life and see if it looks in harmony. Also take into account that you go through seasons in life. While you may eventually want one particular goal, it could contradict with another goal right now.
Set Annual Goals
Now that you’ve painted your life vision, let’s set some tangible goals for the next year! Take a peek at each individual area and make a list of the things that need to happen in your life for each of those items to happen.
For example–for me to reach my financial goal for the year, I need:
- No credit card debt
- $___ in savings (keeping that private, hope you understand)
- Not eating out more than once a week
For my blog:
- Post 2X a week on website with valuable content
- Get mailing list to 12,000
- Decide on affiliate company
- Bring home $____ (keeping private)
Note: when making these goals, it’s important to make them very specific to where you know when that goal is accomplished. Doing something like, “Spend more time with family” is too vague–but you could tweak it to something like, “Have a weekly family night.”
Narrow Down Annual Goals
For each of those categories you created, pick ONE goal. Tip–you might pick one goal that would have an impact on the others in that category. For example, if I am not eating out more than once a week, I can use that money I didn’t spend to more aggressively pay off credit card debt and put money in savings.
So here is an example of what my goals might look like:
Spirituality – Pray & read scriptures daily
Financial – Eat out only 1/week
Family – Weekly FUN family night
Home – Each day do dishes, 1 load laundry, and 10 minutes organizing
Blog – Post 2X/week
Set Goals for Quarter
Great! Now you have your annual goal set up for yourself!!!! Don’t lose this! How many times have you set a goal and totally forgot about it? Pop it on your fridge, or in a journal that you consult regularly. Let’s not let this be “out of sight, out of mind.”
Plus we will be re-visiting this list quarterly as well. That brings me to my next step—set quarterly goals.
In order for you to accomplish the goal you have, what do you need to do this quarter? By setting this up quarterly, you have a chance to check in and see how on track or off track you are from your goal, and adjust accordingly. It also helps to have several “stopping points” along the way towards a big goal, so that you can feel that sense of accomplishment.
Here are some examples you could use:
- Lose 50 pounds this year — Quarterly Goal: Lose 15 pounds
- Eat out only 1/week throughout year— Quarterly Goal: Have 12 quick meals packed in the freezer
- Each day this year do dishes, 1 load laundry, 10 min organizing — Quarterly Goal: Set up morning routine for dishes, laundry and organizing
You’ll set a goal for each of the areas of your life. Now remember, in the first step you set up no more than 6 areas of your life. So that means you should have no more than 6 goals for this quarter.
So that you don’t forget to re-visit your goals in the next quarter, be sure to set some kind of alarm on your phone or calendar to remind you to check in with these at the end of this quarter.
I don’t know about you, but I get lured and distracted by shiny objects. I can be totally into one thing, but the moment something else looks more exciting, I’m tempted to ditch what I’m doing. That leaves all kinds of half-projects all over the place. That’s where the “Seasonal Focus” comes in. If something new comes up that is different from your focus, say you’ll revisit them next quarter when you set those quarterly goals.
For example—one goal for my blog is mailing list. So right now, my business focus is anything and everything mailing list. If a training comes up for something else, I’m not going to get distracted by that! My focus for my business is JUST on building my mailing list.
By having a seasonal focus for yourself, you also have a guidepost to help you make decisions. When you are asked to commit to something, take a moment to determine whether or not that contradicts with your priorities & the current focus for this season.
Set Habit Goals
We are narrowing this down more and more. Having a large goal to eventually accomplish can be tough to work towards. How can you divide your goal into what to accomplish this month? Pay attention to habits you can create, not necessarily the tangible goal.
For example–in order for me to lose 5 pounds this month, I’d need to make sure I’m working out daily. So my goal for this month could be to establish a time when I’m working out daily.
Anatomy of a Habit
In order to create a habit, studies have shown that there needs to be a trigger–that’s something to get you to start whatever behavior you want. So as I want to workout, I might have an alarm set and I put on my workout clothes. Those two things trigger me to start my workout. You also need a reward–this needs to be immediate and preferably not food related. What is something you could do right after that activity to give yourself a pat on the back. (To read more on habit formation, I highly recommend the book by Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit).
Let’s revisit my goal to post 2X a week on here. Here is how I’d break down the habit:
- Annual Goal: Write 2 blog posts a week
- Habit: Write for 20 minutes a day
- Trigger: Alarm goes off at a specific time to remind me to work
- Reward: I can watch my favorite show or play a song I like.
If you repeat this trigger – action- reward process consistently, you start to establish a habit and your brain begins to go a little on auto-pilot with doing it. THAT is how you paint a lifestyle!
Check in with yourself weekly & monthly to see how you are doing on those short-term habits you are developing.
You did it! You planned out your year and focus. Now you’ll be revisiting this frequently throughout the year (remember–it’s especially important to revisit your goals quarterly). Remember that this is about focus for you. As long as you stay true to your goal in this season, and you establish those lifestyle habits, you’ll see some amazing progress in your life! If you did this activity, I’d love to hear about some of your goals! Comment below & share what you came up with!
If you are interested in a step-by-step workbook to walk you through setting life goals, you’d love my Piece-Ful Pursuit of Balance workbook. Fill in your info below to download the guide: