Sustainable Goal Setting for the New Year

It’s a week into 2021! I know some people talked about canceling their free trial and giving up on the year already, but what a waste that would be! We’ve got an entire year ahead of us to dream and drive things forward.

In some years in the past, I’ve set resolutions. In others, I’ve set a word for the year. This year, I’m blending the two. I’ve been fairly consistent for almost a year now doing Rachel Hollis’s Start Today journal, and that led to how I set my goals for the year in a way that feels attainable and I wanted to share my process with you this month so you could hopefully give it a try too!

Step One: Identify your long term goals

With the Start Today journal, I write down the same 10 dreams every single day. 10 things I want to see happen within the next ten years. These aren’t things that will happen tomorrow (eg. Own a vacation house we don’t rent) and some of them are things I will always work on (eg. Spend time in the bible daily). In the journal, you are supposed to end each entry with some short term goal you want to accomplish that gets you one step closer to your dreams.

So if you happen to already keep a Start Today journal or have some similar manifestation in place, then you’re ready for step 2. If not, take some time to think about what matters to you and how you want your life to look 10 years from now.

Step Two: Choose 2-3 goals to advance this year

Now, two of my 10 year goals are to work out every day and spend time in the bible daily. Those are not specifically a part of my goal setting this year, but they are things I aspire to and continue to work on. By no means do I work out every day yet, but I do try to be consistent.

For me, I actually thought about some of the things I wanted to accomplish this year, and I worked from there. Which of my dreams did they align to?

I know I want to publish my second book this quarter, and “I wrote a second book” is one of my 10 year goals, so that was an easy one to ladder back to. (And it also means that I need to decide if I want to change that dream to “third” book, or if I want to replace it with something new entirely.)

For my other two, I had one work and one personal., which I’ll elaborate on in a moment.

Step Three: Identify short term goals for the next six months

My personal goal was to work on my marriage. I have a 10 year dream that says “I have an exceptional marriage” (taken straight from the example page in Rachel’s book, because who doesn’t want an exceptional marriage??). But of course, I can’t just decide I’m going to do that, right? That doesn’t magically happen. It happens daily, in the little moments, coupled with the big ones. I am obsessed with Love Languages and my husband swears he doesn’t have one. He’s wrong, of course. I’m 75% sure his is acts of service (which sucks, because as a mom working at home, I feel like all I do is serve, and I’m freaking tired), but I’m still going to experiment this year.

Like so many of you, quarantine has been hard. We have had the best time together this year, and as an introvert, being home with just him has been amazing. But the stress of having all of the virtual school on my shoulders, the distractions of them at home while I work (he goes to an office), and let’s not forget that the baby’s daycare was closed from March until September. It was a hard year for me, and I didn’t have a ton left to give.

I turned my goals into a powerpoint broken out by month, with a column for each of my “big goals.” Here’s what I did for January:

I know, a lot of those don’t specifically look like they are about my marriage, but one thing I know about myself is that when I feel good about myself, I’m nicer, more thoughtful, and more engaged with my husband, so by caring for myself, my hope is that is what manifests—and that it may inspire him to work out too (hence, working out consistently on the weekends when he’s home!)

I gotta say, I’m most excited about the prayer circles. He doesn’t know I’m doing this (and I don’t think he even knows how to read my blog), but I’ve spent the last week saying specific prayers for him in places like his closet, the shower, his side of the bed, etc. The idea comes from Mark Batterson’s book Draw the Circle if you’re interested! I did it with my church several years ago and loved it.

Step Four: Print out your goals where you can see them

Personally, I’m taking this one month at a time, so I have only January printed off in my closet where I can see it every single day. But I built out six months to start. Particularly with my work goals, they really require some specific things to happen each month, so it was easier for me to write them out for six months. Six months gives me an easy way to evaluate how it’s going in June, and I think by then, we’ll also know a lot more about how the rest of the year will play out as it relates to COVID. If I will be working from home all year, my goals may shift versus if I have to go back to the office starting in June.

Step Five: Follow your goals and re-evaluate in 3 or 6 months

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. You have to actively work on yourself every day. What I like about having so many mini goals is that I think I’m going to be less likely to “fail” with this plan. I may not check off everything on my list, but I bet I achieve a few of them. And every thing I put on my list takes me one step closer to my ten year dreams.

Shoot me an email or DM on Instagram and let me know how it’s going! Wishing you all the success in the world!

Published by Ashley Adams

Author, former single mom, lover of Cherry Coke Zero and Taylor Swift. Here to coach and support and love on women in challenging relationships.

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