I suggest saying NO to New Year’s Resolutions, but that doesn’t give a free pass to not evaluate your life and find goals to set for yourself. What do I suggest?

Goal setting or changing your habits doesn’t need to be an annual event. Break it down into smaller timeframes. Quarterly, monthly, weekly…it depends on the goal you want to set or the habit you want to create.

It also depends on how many goals you have in mind. If I want to add more exercise to my life, drastically change my diet, add weekly volunteering to my schedule and learn a new hobby, it’s not likely that I will succeed if I start all of the changes on the same date. I may instead set it up like this:

  • January Set up a monthly challenge to exercise 3 days per week. Research volunteer activities with the goal of starting by February. (I will expand on my Challenge Method of goal setting in a later post. It has been practically life-changing!)
  • February Continue to work out 3 days per week. Volunteer once per week.
  • March Continue with exercise and volunteering. Add in two new healthy recipes per week and cut fast food out.
  • April Continue with previous new habits (by now the exercise and volunteering may be completely engrained into your schedule!). Focus on eating 5 fruits and vegetables per day and start looking into your new hobby.
  • Following Months Continue to evaluate where you are with your goals. Tweak your plan and add new challenges as you go.

How to Set Goals using Short Challenges and Mini Goals

I have found that a Monthly Challenge method (or various other timeframes) works well for me. There is more of a focus on Mini Habits and setting up a Challenge for yourself. They have worked for me! Challenge yourself for ONE MONTH and you may end up with a new habit.

Here are 6 guidelines in goal-setting:

Be Specific. It’s much easier to track how you are doing and if you need to reevaluate as you go if you have a specific way to measure and track your progress.

For example: Get Healthy. What does that mean?

Try this instead: In January, try two new healthy recipes per week. In February, cut out all fast food. In March, focus on having five fruits and vegetables per day.

Be Realistic. Ask yourself: Is this really attainable? It’s probably not realistic to plan on making 4-5 drastic changes as of January 1. Decide instead to spread your goals throughout the year. Don’t just think of the absolute ideal if you honestly think it’s not attainable. Set Low Goals. What?? Don’t completely abide by this motto, but don’t set yourself up for failure. Be honest with yourself. Be realistic.

Make a Plan. It’s hard to create a new habit. Even if we are highly motivated in one area of life, we may desire to make a change in an area that we struggle with. (I FINALLY was able to create an early morning habit. What I needed was a plan!) Take the time to plan out the steps you need to take.

How to Set Goals

Create a Timeline. Break down your goal into smaller pieces and attach a timeline to them. If you have broken it down in smaller increments, you will have small successes along the way. You will also be able to make changes along the way if necessary.

Make an accountability plan. You can do this one of two ways. Or both.

  • Ask a friend, co-worker or your spouse if they will either join you or if they are willing to be your encourager. Maybe your spouse will be willing to take on your goal and get up early with you. Maybe your friend will be willing to text you daily to see if you are reading your devotion.
  • Write it down! This has been key for me. Make up a Monthly Schedule of a Challenge you make for yourself. I recorded Bed Times and Wake Up times and this motivated me. I was happy to record an 11:00 PM bedtime, while I didn’t enjoy writing down 12:00 PM. Knowing that I had to record the time made me feel more accountable. I was amazed at how this simple task was a game changer.

If you are looking for accountability regarding a healthy life, check out 15 Days to a Healthier You.

Review and reassess. Ask yourself: Is this working? If it’s not, what are the roadblocks? Is your timeline off? Is your goal too broad?

Are you setting goals and challenges for your health and fitness? Use the Health and Wellness Printable Planner to help you succeed in your Health and Wellness Goals.

Because this is not an annual approach, you can be constantly tweaking and changing if needed.

There are many different ways that you can set goals. It’s important that you find a way that works for you. Step back and reevaluate what you have done in the past. Does it work? If yes, go with it. If not, try a new method.

Here is your first step: Think of your broad goals (exercise, eat healthy, volunteer) and brainstorm for the mini goals. Spread the mini goals out for the first few month (or the full year if you are in a Goal Planning Mindset!) and record on the Mini Goal Brainstorm Schedule.

Mini Goal Brainstorm Schedule

Stop by to see where I link-up my posts each week: Link-Up List

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54 comments on “How to Set Goals using Short Challenges and Mini Goals”

  1. Good plan, Emily. Admittedly, I haven’t thought much about 2015, other than my “one word.” Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Love this idea for breaking up the tasks into different months and taking it step-by-step. That’s a recipe for success that not everyone has the foresight for. And this post might help people who aren’t natural planners to set themselves up for success too. Genuinely helpful. Thank you.

    Stopping by from the sitsgirls linkup.

  3. Such great tips! I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this November and I never thought I’d complete it, but I had a smaller word count goal each day that kept me on track and by the end of the month I’d written 50,000 words. Smaller goals within larger goals are so important to success! #SITSBlogging

  4. Great tips! Small manageable goals add up big time! Each time you make those small changes you are creating your new normal and setting the bar a bit higher. It may also be a good idea to plan a reward for yourself for reaching those goals and then for reaching a little further. Love this!

  5. Great, great, great hints and tips, love the work out 3 times per week one, am definitely going to try that. Thanks for sharing at Good morning mondays. Blessings

  6. I really like how you mentioned adding in one new goal at a time. When I think about it, that would definitely help new goals/habits stick. Trying to change everything at one time never works out for me but I’m absolutely a fan of having goals. Thanks for this insight! :)

    • Yes, it can be overwhelming if you want to change so many things all at once. It can be a recipe for failure!

  7. These are great tips. I totally agree with you that it’s important to break goals down. When you make such broad goals it’s difficult to accomplish them, let alone measure them. Happy New Year!

  8. I love these tips. New Year’s resolutions have never been effective for me, but I believe if I set goals like this that are specific, realistic and with a set time frame I will be more successful. I’ve already done something similar with my writing, so I will try this with exercise as well. Thank you for sharing!

  9. I look forward to reading more of your posts on goal-setting. I like the idea of mini-goals. I just made some writing goals. I made a brain storm list, and decided to make some mini-goals based on my list for January and February. Later on I can tackle more ideas from the brain storm. I like concrete short-term goals too!

    • Yes! And it’s much easier to add new goals after you accomplish your January goals or make them into habits.

  10. this is great advice! I am totally guilty of trying to change too many habits at once. I love the idea of planning it out by month. :)

    • Trying to revamp everything all at once can be overwhelming. Month by month is much easier. I hope you give it a try!

  11. Great job, girl. You got a gift. thank you for sharing. You were my neighbor on the last day for the loft. Hope to see you linking at the new site too. Blessings ~Chris~

  12. I really like the idea of making monthly challenges. I am going to try to do one in March to drink eight cups of water a day. Thanks.

  13. I like your burpee idea, Emily! A total body workout and quick!
    I’m thinking of designing a 6 minute workout challenge for my readers. There might not be a lot of strength gained, but it’s something, eh?
    I always love your organizational ideas!

    • You get so much bang for your buck with burpees! I can be in great running/cardio shape and still get out of breath quickly, especially when I haven’t been doing them for a while.

      Your 6 minute challenge sounds like a great idea!

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