With the New Year coming up in a few days, I am sure you are in preparation mode. Years ago, I would be busy making a list of New Year’s resolutions. I never stuck to them, so I switched to goal setting instead. Instead of making a list of actions I wanted to complete regularly, I made goals that I wanted to reach by the end of the year. This took away the typical burnout cycle I faced back in my resolution-making days. If you are reading this post, then you too are trying to figure out how to set goals that you will meet by the end of the year. I get it. It can be overwhelming to face the new year and set a finite number of goals that will hopefully 🤞🏾 make you a better person one year from now. Don’t stress! I’ve found these five easy steps are all you need to set actionable goals.
1. Write it down
Grab a notepad, planner, or your Notes app; it does not matter. I am using a combination of my Notes app and Notion. If you go the paper route, display your goals in a prominent area, so you are regularly reminded of them. Keeping track of your goals is easier when they are written down and you can always modify them if needed. Once my goals have been set, I do like to transfer them into my planner.
2. Review the past year
Maybe you made a note to yourself about a new hobby you wanted to try. Or you started a new stage of life that requires some new habits. Take a few days to reflect on the past year before diving into goal setting. You experienced 365 new days, each with its own unique ups and downs and I’m sure there are some changes you would like to make in the new year. I like to review the goals that I set for the year prior and see which ones I accomplished and which ones I did not. The goals that are still relevant for the new year are re-added to the list.
3. Create major goal categories
I break my life down into six major categories: environment, career, finances, relationships, mental health, and physical health. You can add additional categories, such as school. I prefer to maintain extremely vague life categories instead of hyper-specific categories. This allows me to see how interconnected my goals are, and makes me feel more accomplished at the end of the year when I can check off at least one goal in each category 😁.
4. Write “I want” statements for each goal category
I do believe that this is the easiest step to complete. All you have to do is imagine your life one year from now. Go all out and write down everything you want to do/be next year. For example, I want to make more new friends next year. This statement would fall under my Relationship goals category. Something that I noticed in the past, is that each category does not always have the same amount of goals. In some years I focus more on my relationships and physical health than I do on my career and environment. You might find yourself in the same predicament, and that is okay. Each of your life categories will not be of equal importance at all times and sometimes you need to put more time and energy into one category for a year.
5. Create goals to turn your “I want” statements into reality
Now that you have your I want statements, think about the actions that can make those statements a reality, these actions will become your actual goals. I hosted a Pinterest Live at the beginning of this year that covers how to set That Girl Goals, in which I break down the SMART method for setting goals. This method is typically used for professional goals, but it is very useful for setting goals in your personal life as well. When I am working on my goals, pacing is the most important aspect. My goals often fall into one of four time-size categories.
- short-term/small goals
- long-term/small goals
- short-term/big goals
- long-term/big goals
For balance, I recommend you set one or two goals for each time-size category. Look for overlaps between life categories and goals. For example, going for a run once a week improves not only your physical health but also your mental health. Hosting dinner parties with your friends once a month might require another goal of building your hosting toolkit.
Bonus Step: Visualize it
Every year, I make a digital vision board and make it the background to all of my devices. Whenever I check my phone or open my laptop I am reminded of the goals I am working towards. Pinterest is my favorite place to find inspirational photos which I turn into my vision board using Canva. I have also created a vision wall, using collage kits that I find on Etsy. If you have not gathered yet, I am big on the aesthetic of goal setting and you should be too. Throw in a color palette for the year, add some inspirational quotes, heck, create a playlist.
Over the next few days, I hope you take the time to reflect on this past year and set actionable goals for 2024. Have a wonderful new year!