It is officially 2016, and It’s time to set goals and take action for the year. Resolutions has become such a dirty word. It’s become this mandatory time to make commitments to ourselves blindly, knowing that we have the ability to break them because… that’s what we do right?
Far too often we think about our goals in terms of what we think we should change. What we were doing that wasn’t working in the past, and how we are going to be better in the future. It wasn’t working before, and this is the year you are going to make it work.
Instead of focusing on the past, and what wasn’t working, what if we looked inward and really checked in with ourselves to see what is at the core of our desires for the year?
Here are eight steps that I take to set goals that actually mean something to me. Not only is this a fun process, but I actually get things done. I hope it works for you as well.
1. WRITE IT DOWN
Sit down and write free-flow for at least 10 minutes about things that you want to accomplish in the year. Yes, they can be tangible things, but mostly use this exercise to get to the emotional root of what you want.
2. SET YOUR INTENTION
Read over what you wrote. Notice the overall theme that starts to surface? Really focus in on the one word that sums up what that theme is. There might be a few words, but usually they are connected somehow. Find the connection, and narrow it down to one word. This is now your overall word for the year. All of the goals that you set will keep this word and intention in mind. This year, my word is CONNECT.
3. GROUP THINGS
Now that you have your word, it’s time to put it into action. I use post-it notes, because I like the action of standing up and sticking them to a surface and seeing everything in front of me.
Create 5 categories CAREER, SELF, FAMILY/RELATIONSHIPS, FINANCIAL, HEALTH. Some people might want to put health and self together. Others might want to break family and relationships apart (not literally, of course.) I like keeping health and self separate because it’s far too easy to put health items under self and neglect other important forms of self care.
4. SET GOALS
Now that you have your categories start writing out some concrete goals. Keep in mind your overall word from step 2. Limit your goals to around 2 per category, depending on the size of the goal. Be intentional and thoughtful with your goals. Take the time to really check in with yourself. Sometimes the goal is abstract ie. I want to spend more quality time with my husband. Turn that into an action item I am going to have a date with my husband once per month. Phones off. No kids. No TV. every Friday from ____ to ____.
5. REVIEW & ELIMINATE
Check your list… hey check it twice. Do your goals match your overall intention? Do you feel inspired by them? If not… revise. Get specific if it feels to vague. Are your goals realistic? Do you have too many? Take this time to eliminate what’s not working. Not only from your current list of goals, but also what you have been doing up until now. Is it serving you well? Is it helping you meet your goals for the year? If not… eliminate what isn’t serving you.
6. TIME FOR ACTION
Now is the time to make the magic come to life. Choose your preferred method of tracking. If you love the tangible and appreciate the feel of pen on paper, then whip out your favorite day-timer. If you are a digital person, get your online calendar ready. There are also many great apps for inputting and tracking. I’m currently giving Asana a try, as there is also a team component, so you can have multiple users, and incorporate accountability.
Now start putting things on your calendar. If you have a really, really big goal, then you might want to map out your whole year in one sitting, breaking it down into manageable tasks. If the goals can be accomplished in a shorter time, Pick 1-2 items (depending on the size) and give them deadlines within that month. If the item needs to be broken down throughout the month into mini deadlines, then set dates for those. Don’t forget your abstract goals. If you wanted to have that date with your husband once per month, make sure you schedule that in, so you stick to your goal.
Next month… pick one or two more notes, and input them into your calendar. If you didn’t follow through with your last months goal, consider tabling it for a while to make room for something that you feel more inspired to work on.
7. BETTER TOGETHER
You have your goals, and your overall intention. How are you going to stay on task and make sure you are getting them done? Are you good about following through with deadlines? Great, then you are on your way. Need a little help? Find an accountability partner or group. My husband and I check in at the beginning of each month to review our previous months progress and set our two goals for the next month. It’s a great way for us to connect and have good conversation. A group is also great. I lead the Tuesday’s Together Vancouver group, and we are using Asana to stay on top of each others goals.
8. BE KIND TO YOURSELF
This is hard work people. We have to give ourselves grace. You might not complete one of your goals on occasion. Forgive yourself, and move on. Maybe it wasn’t something you really wanted to do. Maybe you weren’t ready. Maybe it wasn’t broken down enough. Regardless of the reason… let it go. Don’t beat yourself up. Be gentle, and move on to the next thing.
What goals have you set for 2016? What tools are you using to stay on track? Comment below with your tips or places you get stuck.