Hey, January! Good to see you! The beginning of a new year is one of my most cherished times of the year. Coming out of a joyful holiday season full of family and friends and entering a season of reflection and refreshment is a dream come true. What could be better?
Many people overlook this “New Year Resolution” season as a waste of time, and I get it. I am not an advocate for writing down cliché New Year resolutions and breaking them or forgetting them 10 days later. That isn’t helping anybody. Don’t sign me up for that.
What DOES help me is a little something I call goal planning. And I am a huge advocate for goal planning. Why? Because without a plan, how are we going to get where we want to be? I have a very wise mentor who emphasized the value of goal planning and introduced me to an easy process for creating AND keeping my goals each year. I’ve been doing it for six years now, and without this process, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have accomplished some of my biggest dreams to date.
Step One :: Focus
Focus on each “big” area of your life. Write those areas down and spend some time thinking about them.
- What would you do if you had all the time in the world?
- How could this area of your life get EVEN better?
- Is there something you would change about this area of your life?
Some of the big areas I evaluate each year are Family, Marriage, Parenting, Ministry, Career, Finances, Personal, Health, Vacation, and then a catch-all miscellaneous. These become my categories for goal planning.
Step Two :: Prioritize
Choose 1-3 things from each category that you want to focus on in 2018, and make those your new year goals. Choosing more than three goals for each category can be overwhelming and set you up for failure. For instance, if I choose 3 goals for each of my categories, that’s 30 total goals for the year. And to date, I’ve never been able to achieve more than 30 goals, no matter how well I plan! Moral of this story is dream big, but be realistic. And prioritize!
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, write them all down. When I first started goal planning, I had a goals notebook that I kept on my bedside table. But I recently changed to keeping my new year goals in Evernote, so I have more flexibility to tweak my goals as needed during the year and more freedom and space to track my progress with each goal.
Step Three :: Plan
Start planning! People often don’t succeed in keeping their goals because they don’t ever figure out HOW they are going to maintain them. The planning is just as important as the goal! Break your new year goals down: what needs to happen in order to achieve your goal by December 31st? Here is an example:
Goal: Plan a fun and kid-free date night once a month.
- Look at calendar in January and schedule date nights in advance for January-March.
- Call my dad and ask him to babysit on those dates.
- Brainstorm with my husband what restaurants, concerts, or activities we’d like to enjoy for our date nights.
- Make reservations or buy tickets in advance.
Writing down the steps actually motivates you to DO what you set out to do. And now, I already have 3 date nights planned with my husband for 2018! Remember, it’s easier to accomplish BIG things if you take small steps along the way.
Step Four :: Review (often!)
Review your new year goals often. Keep them where you can see them or easily access them. Make it a point to read through your goals AT LEAST once a month. Reviewing your goals monthly (or weekly) will help you refocus and determine where you’ve gone off course. It will also help you reevaluate your goals and make necessary changes. Life happens. You have to be flexible, and so do your goals.
If you are curious or need some additional inspiration, I’ve listed out a few of my 2018 goals:
- Start eating breakfast together as a family.
- Give over 10% of our gross income and always be looking for ways to give generously.
- Only eat out for lunch four times per month.
- Plan a family trip to Atlanta over Spring Break.
- Read at least 15 books.
- Meal plan and grocery shop on Saturday during toddler’s nap.
- Earn $250 from iBotta. *If you aren’t using iBotta, you are missing out on free money!
- Redo guest bathrooms with new fixtures, shower heads, towels and paint.
- Print off 10 photos each month and add to Family Project Life Scrapbook.
- Continue to research and incorporate minimalism into our family life and home.
If you still hate the idea of resolutions or goal setting and need some inspiration, just ask yourself this question: If you don’t take the time to think about where you want to go in life, how will you ever get there?
Happy New Year Goal Planning, Everyone!