It's the time of the year for reflection and new beginnings. We ponder what happened (or didn't happen) in the past year and think about what we want to accomplish in the year to come.
You probably hear a lot of advice on whether you should set goals. Or not. Or the difference between a goal or resolution. And so on. I've read them all too.
Here's what I say:
If you want to set a goal, do it.
If you don't want to, then don't (but there's no need to criticize people who do - I see this all the time on social media and there's no need for it).
And who cares if you're setting a goal or a resolution? The point is you want to improve yourself; that there's something you're striving for - that's really all that matters.
However, when it comes to goal-setting, I do believe that there are five things that you should do:
1 | Write It Down
If you're serious about what you want to accomplish, write it down. Visually seeing it written on paper will remind you of it, and can keep you committed to it.
Whether it's written on a piece of paper that you tape to your fridge or bathroom mirror, on a sticky note that you have on your computer screen (a real one or an app of one), or on your phone. If you're serious about wanting to accomplish it, you'll want always to be mindful of it.
2 | Create An Action Plan
How are you going to accomplish that thing you're striving for? If you wish hard enough, will it just magically happen one day? Unless you have a genie, it's doubtful that will happen that way.
So create a roadmap, a step-by-step plan on how to make it happen. Refer to this post that I wrote at this time last year on how to do just that.
When you have an action plan, it makes the likelihood of achievement more realistic.
3 | Keep A Journal
Trust me; you'll want to do this if anything for future reference.
Back in 2004, I was serious about wanting to drop some LBS. So I created an action plan by joining a new gym, working with a personal trainer and making healthier food choices. In a few months, I was able to drop 40+ lbs and four dress sizes and was able to maintain this for almost ten years. Then a couple of years ago, my weight started to creep back up slowly. I didn't know it at the time, but all the overtraining I was doing to try and drop those lbs was actually working against me, causing me to gain weight.
I was so confused about what to do that I found myself wishing I had kept a journal of what I did during that year when I was able to drop those lbs that I could refer back to.
So keep a record of your journey so you can refer to it for future reference and inspiration.
4 | Find An Accountabili-buddy
In 2004 my accountabili-buddy was my personal trainer. He was someone who taught me exercises to do at the gym and guided me through the process of what I needed to do to achieve my goals.
But beyond that, he was someone I could ask questions of when I felt confused about something, commiserate with when things weren't going so well, celebrate wins with, when things did - but most of all, just someone who I could talk to about my goals. He understood what I was trying to do and supported me 100% and I so needed that to be successful.
So enlist your partner, your best friend, your best work friend! And if you don't have any of those, or want an objective third party, I'm here for you! Let's chat and strategize and create a roadmap for you!
5 | Define Your "Why"
BEFORE you do Steps 1-4, consider this:
How many times have you set a new goal (especially on January 1st), only to not follow through with it? Sound familiar?
If this happens to you every year, ask yourself "WHY do I want to accomplish this goal?" And "how committed will I be to working towards it?"
Be HONEST with yourself. You don't have, to be honest, or share your why's with anyone else but do have to with yourself.
I know that it can be scary even to admit things to ourselves, but this only works when you shed the protective layers and are open and frank with yourself.
Here's a worksheet to help you get started. It's an exercise that I learned in nutrition school and one that I use in my kickoff sessions with my private coaching clients.
This graph is called the "Circle of Life." It can help you take a high-level look at what your life looks life.
To begin, review the 12 areas on the Circle of Life. The circle, when put together, creates a view of a balanced life for you. If you like, you can re-label the areas to include things like:
- Family + Friends
- Partner, Significant Other, Romance
- Health (emotional, physical, fitness, nutrition, well-being)
- Fun, Recreation. Leisure
- Personal Growth, Learning, Self-development
What does success in each area feels like to you?
To do this exercise:
- Place a dot on the line in each category to indicate your level of satisfaction within each area. Place a dot at the center of the circle to show dissatisfaction, or on the periphery to indicate satisfaction. Most people fall somewhere in between.
- Connect the dots to see your Circle of Life, then answer these questions:
- Are there any surprises for you?
- How do you feel about your life as you look at your Circle of Life?
- How do you currently spend time in each area?
- How would you like to spend time in each area?
- Which area would you most like to improve?
- How can you make space for these changes?
- What help from others might you need?
- What would make it a better circle?
- What does a balanced circle look like to you?
Balance is unique to each person – what may feel balanced for one may feel stressful or boring for another.
You may even want to ask a friend to complete the circle for you. An outside perspective may lead to an “aha” moment!
Identifying areas of imbalance can help you honestly assess what kinds of goals you want to set for yourself.
I recommend doing this exercise a few times a year to reassess how things may change over time.
Download the Free Worksheet!
One final thought: Setting goals is not limited to the new year. You can (and should!) set goals, big or small, throughout the year! Personally, I set goals for myself whenever I feel like it! I don't wait for the new year, the first of the month, or even Mondays. And you don't have to either!
Hi, I'm Naomi!
I help smart and savvy women who suffer from chronic stress, unexplained weight gain and burnout, breakthrough their healthy blind spots and relieve symptoms through natural healing with whole foods and by making lifestyle and environmental changes. Why feel tired when you can feel fired up and ready to go every single day?
I love running outdoors, connecting with like-minded people, and exploring the San Francisco Bay Area with my pup, Coco Pop.