Making Goals for the New Year

posted in: Simple Living | 2

Inside: Making goals for the new year need not be complicated. Here is one simple method.

Making goals for the new year.
This picture is strictly for metaphorical uses only. I’m not taking up mountain climbing in the new year!

Have you noticed how the subject of making goals brings out so many different reactions? You have the people who love the idea and are completely energized at the thought of a blank slate. A fresh new year to make good on all of those promises we’ve made to ourselves. (I’m definitely in that group.)

Then there are those folks who drag their feet and decide they really do need change, but motivation is lacking, particularly since they’ve not seen a lot of progress. They revive the same goals every year and drop out about the time Walmart moves the Slimfast display from the center aisle. (That used to be me.)

And when you mention making goals to some people, they give you a dirty look and say they don’t believe in them or bring out their long list of excuses why they won’t be participating. (I did that one year and, oddly, ended up accomplishing some things anyway. Go figure.)

Maybe you can identify. But, really, the bottom line is to make the most of the next twelve months we have on this good green Earth we share. Let’s see if we can simplify the process.

Take Inventory

I wrote a post last week about taking a look at the past year and asking some questions, but it can be boiled down to two: What worked last year? What didn’t? Taking a moment to either jot some thoughts down or simply thinking on those questions can bring clarity to the task ahead–asking another simple question. Where do I want to be at the end of this year?

Do a Brain Dump

This year I had so many ideas for goals that I decided to write down everything that occurred to me. I didn’t limit myself. I’ve got such items on this list as “write a screenplay” and “buy a well for needy community in a third world country” (yeah, that’s huge) to “read 12 books off my bookshelf” and “go on more dates with Mike” (much easier objectives).

You might write down “take a vacation to the mountains” or “get out of debt”–whatever comes to mind. To make it fun, you can try setting a timer and seeing what you come up with after ten minutes or longer. Some people work well under the pressure of a timed exercise, and the timer acts as a mini deadline. Or maybe you’re more the type to sit down with a cup of coffee and leisurely mull over the topic, jotting ideas as they come to you. (Definitely me.)

The point is to give yourself permission to dream big and small. Often it’s the little things in life that bring you joy, so these, too, should make the list.


Let’s face it. We’re probably not going to get everything accomplished off that list. And that’s perfectly fine. The point is to capture the ideas down on paper. I actually have two lists–my goals for the year, and my “I would like” list. My goals consist of what I really want to spend the next several months working on and what’s most important for me to accomplish. But the neat thing is that I transfer all of those other ideas–typically 20 to 25 things, though I don’t limit myself–onto my “I would like” list for revisiting. What I have found is that of those items a handful of them end up happening anyway, often without any effort on my part. (We serve a good God!) There is power in writing down heart desires and dreams. Those who do are 42 percent more likely to accomplish their goals.

One more thing about making goals–make them specific. Saying “I want to lose weight” is vague whereas “lose 20 pounds by class reunion through exercising three times per week and eating a whole foods diet” brings clarity and action to the goal.

Break it Down

Setting goals.
Your daily to-do lists should include steps toward achieving your goals.

Finally, break the goal into smaller pieces. Take the above weight loss example. Planning a menu could be step one. Step two might be finding an exercise buddy to motivate and keep you accountable. Or maybe you decided to clean out your closet and organize it. Step one might be going through the clothes you want to give away. Step two could be buying storage bins. Make the steps as easy as you can. It feels good to check these steps–mini goals–off the list. In time all of these steps add up to accomplished goals.

Review Your List Often

It’s remarkable how many people make goals and then never look at them again the rest of the year! That would be like printing off directions for a car trip and then leaving them at home on purpose. If these goals were important enough to thoughtfully write them out, then they’re important enough to review often. If you fall behind on where you’d like to be, don’t beat yourself up! Just keep moving ahead. (I’m talking to myself, too!)

Truthfully, I had seven goals last year, and of those seven, I crushed three of them–grew my business, started a new writing project, and bought a heifer for a needy family. What I didn’t accomplish–declutter bedrooms, read 17 books, revise and publish my novel, and lose 25 pounds–I made progress toward. I feel good about that!

And I feel excited about 2018!

Making goals worth keeping.
No, running isn’t on my list, either, but I do have a step goal in mind!

Did you make any goals for 2018? Tell us about it in the comments.

Note: I’ll be sharing my goals for 2018 in the next newsletter, so if you’re not already signed up, check out the side bar at the top of the page and join. 

Related posts:

My Word for 2018

Taking Inventory of 2017

Taking End of Season Garden Notes

The Useful Art of Daydreaming

2 Responses

  1. Kathy

    Thanks for sharing this!
    My three ‘main’ goals for this year…

    Greatly reduce debt(specifically, pay off three of five credit cards)

    Read 5 novels

    And visit someone I have never visited once a month


      Thanks, Kathy! I like how you boiled your list down to three. 🙂 And visiting someone you haven’t visited before is such a cool idea! Maybe you could share with us how that went later in the year. No pressure, though. :-D.

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