Every January as we welcome in a new year filled with fresh possibilities, we are drawn towards the idea of setting New Years Resolutions – things we wish to accomplish in the new year that will make our lives healthier/organized/fun/fuller/calmer – the list goes on and on. Except we seem to set these BIG resolutions – things that we haven’t otherwise been able to implement in our everyday lives. The new year brings with it fresh hope that this is the year it will be different but for most people, they are left with a feeling of failure not long into the year.
The problem with these big resolutions we tend to set is that they are too big – they sound great in theory but practically seem too daunting to even start.
A few years ago, while completing Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Mornings course (which is great, by the way!), she talked about the idea that by having goals for different areas of our lives, we are constantly working towards growing and improving those areas. I’m not sure why but that idea just clicked with me! When I worked outside the home, it was standard practice to have goals that I was working towards accomplishing – growing the business and myself each year. Why wouldn’t I have those same goals for myself, my marriage and my family?
So for the past two years, I’ve thrown out the idea of having New Years Resolutions and instead come up with a list of goals I have for the year. To start, I list the areas of priority in my life and then come up with 3 -5 goals for each priority. The difference between these and resolutions are that there is no clock that kicks in on January 1st. The end of December is always a crazy time so I don’t put any pressure on myself to have my list before the new year starts. Your goals also don’t have to take up the entire year – if you want to run a 5k this year and you do it in May, good for you! You’ve already accomplished one of your goals and still have half the year left.
For me, my areas of priority are:
Typically, sometime in the last week of December or first few weeks of January I take out last years goals and see how I did. (I know I should be doing this at least a few times throughout the year, but oh well, maybe I’ll work on that this year!) I really enjoy this part though – not only seeing how much I accomplished this year but seeing where I didn’t meet my goal. Instead of feeling bad about it, I try to figure out if it was because it was unrealistic, if something changed or if it’s something I should focus on more this coming year. For example, when I looked at my 2017 goals – I was really impressed that I could check off almost every goal listed under Marriage, Family and Financial (woo hoo!) but I couldn’t check off a single goal I had set under Personal. Clearly I know where I need to focus in 2018!
A peak at some of my 2018 goals include:
- Exercise 3x per week (Personal)
- Go out with friends at least 1x per month (Personal)
- Find a babysitter (Marriage)
- Take a weekend trip without the kids (Marriage)
- Play a board game each night before bed (Family)
- Take a family vacation (Family)
- Improve my Pinterest strategy (Writing)
- Produce my first product (Writing)
I have found it is really important that the goals we set are ones that can actually be achieved! Here’s an example of how we tend to set ourselves up for failure:
Maybe you really want to be happier this year. The worst thing you can do is set a goal under Personal that says “Be Happier” because that doesn’t give you any actionable steps and there is no way to measure it. Instead, ask yourself what would make you happier – make your desire to be happier your underlying thought behind the specific goals you set for yourself. That may include things like:
- Exercising a certain amount of days per week
- Reading for 15 minutes each day
- Spending one-on-one time with your husband
- Pursuing a hobby
- Meeting friends for coffee once a week
The idea is that the goals you set should be specific enough that you can actually feel like you achieved them. I promise that if you follow this thought process, you’ll find that you were happier throughout the year (or whatever your overall goal was) through these smaller steps you took.
So maybe you set new years resolutions but are already feeling overwhelmed by them or you didn’t at all and feel like you should be doing something. I encourage you to try the idea of setting goals for your life this year. While you’re at it, encourage your husband to do it with you. Each year, my husband and I make our goals separately and then switch lists to see what the other wants to accomplish. I’ve loved seeing how similar our goals are in most areas but it also helps us know where to encourage each other throughout the year.