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? I’ll share a bit about how to set goals in a different way.
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 can make a huge impact!)
- 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.
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. Sometimes you even need to 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. (For example: working out just twice per week for 15 minutes is way better than nothing.)
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.
Related Post: My Simple Productivity Tip to Help You Stay Focused
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. Tracking simple daily habits can be so helpful, read below for a few resources to help you track your habits.
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. Updated 12/5/17: Sorry this printable is so ugly…I’ll update it someday. :)
Do you want to track your habits? See below for a few resources to help you track your habits:
Monthly Habit Tracker: This post includes a free monthly habit tracker PDF.
Bundle of 20+ Habit Tracker PDFs: Because I realize not everyone tracks their habits in the same way, I just created a Habit Tracker Printable Bundle. It contains over 20 pages so you can find the tracker that works for you. Some trackers have a weekly focus and some have a monthly focus. Some include both. There is also be a habit tracker specific for tracking sleep. Work through and try more than one printable until you find the one that works best for you. Get the NEW Habit Tracker Bundle here!
Habit Tracker Spreadsheet: I am excited to share my Habit Tracker Spreadsheet with you. One of the reasons I’m so excited about the spreadsheet is that you get to see the word “Success” pop up if you complete your habit your goal number of days.
There is a column where you write in your success criteria (because not all habits will have the goal of 7 days per week). Once you input the right number of “X”s during the week, a green “Success” will magically pop up! (OK…it’s just a little formula I wrote.)
I included directions in the spreadsheet, but I would love to know if you think something is confusing.
Annual Habit Tracker: Track your habits all year long with this free Annual Habit Tracker Printable.
Lynda Hardy says
These are great goalsetting tips! I’d love it if you’d share this at Reviews, Chews & How-Tos this week for our first Awesome Life Friday Link Up http://rchreviews.blogspot.com
I’m happy if you found them helpful! I will look into sharing it. Thanks for the invite.
Dianne Thornton says
Good plan, Emily. Admittedly, I haven’t thought much about 2015, other than my “one word.” Thanks for the encouragement!
You are welcome. Thanks for reading!
Good Goal setting ideas. Thanks for sharing.
Sarah Donegan says
What a smart way to bring change! This will lead to much more success than a resolution! :)
It seems to be working well. :) Thanks for reading!
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.
I’m so happy you found it helpful. It’s about process and planning. Thanks for reading!
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
50,000 words?? Nice work! Thanks for reading.
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!
“Creating your new normal” I like how you worded that! Very true.
These are brilliant tools to motivate others to set their goals and actually achieve them. Love it! :),
Delora Peters says
I loved reading your blog, I recently completed a blog on goals also and would love your input at http://deloracares.blogspot.com.
I love your weekly blogs they are always inspiring and memorable!
Thanks! I’m happy you enjoyed your reading. I will stop by your blog also.
Wonderful ideas I definitely need to follow! Thanks for linking up with Sunday Features. :)
Tiny bite sized pieces that are realistic are certainly the way to go!
Sharon Rowe says
What a great article! I would like to invite you to share your post at http://howtogetorganizedathome.com/monday-madness-january-5th/ I think our readers would love it too.
Thanks for the invite! I added the link to your post. I hope your readers also like the article.
Lux Ganzon says
Everyone needs to read this before creating a resolution. Great ideas to start the yer. :D
I hope more people get the chance to read it!
Terri Presser says
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
I’m happy you found them helpful! Thank you for reading.
Danise Jurado says
stopping by from #raralinkup
great goal setting ideas – I like the challege method. I usually do well when I give myself a challenge.
Kelly Balarie says
This is a great way to actually start making change. Love how you break it down into tangible steps. Cheering you on!
Thank you, Kelly!
Jennie @ Little Girl Designs says
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!
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!
Agree! Thanks for reading.
What a great idea…never thought of it from a month to month viewpoint…Thank you!
Abby McDonald says
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!
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!
It sounds like you are right on track!
Abi at Joy In My Kitchen says
I definitely agree! I’ve determined habits I’m working on in January and will add new ones each month. Being specific, realistic and making a plan are all vital to the process.
Yes! And it’s much easier to add new goals after you accomplish your January goals or make them into habits.
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!
Steven Thompson says
I love the idea of monthly challenges and adding something new each month! Great job :)
Awesome! Much like a post I wrote this week: Setting goals and Setting Yourself Up for Success (http://http://lucifit.com/setting-goals-setting-success/). So, needless to say – I agree!!
P.S. – hi from SITS!
These are really great tips. Thank you for linking up on Motivational Monday, hope you will join us again!
Brittany at Equipping Godly Women says
Yeah, I set goals, but I didn’t really do a good job of it. Need to go back and reassess…
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
Thank you for posting to Motivation Monday!
Haley Lillibridge says
Very Helpful! Thank You for these helpful tools!
You are welcome. Thanks for reading!
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~
Julie S. says
This is great – yes setting mini goals helps to stick with it and achieve the bigger goals.
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.
Ruthie Gray says
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!