It’s that time of the year again! The feeling of starting a new year on the right foot fills many with hope and excitement. I certainly love it because it lets me plan out my goals for the year. I am a little obsessed with tracking everything so it’s a convenient excuse for me to map out my personal goals. There are a lot of articles on the internet about setting goals for 2020 and only my internet history can attest to how many articles of these articles I have read over the past few days. I’m hoping to give my own take and highlight some of the methods I used to set my goals for 2020 and hope you will share yours with me too!
Setting yearly goals is a much easier for those who have some idea of what they want to achieve in the coming year but for those who don’t have an idea, it’s easier said than done. Honestly, I was once the latter of the the two and had no clue what goals I should be setting – I was lost, confused and frustrated when I had to think about setting goals. I started this blog because of an assignment at university based around setting and being accountable for those goals. I definitely understand difficulty of setting and sticking to goals that you set for yourself. I also understand the feelings associated with failing to stick to the goals you set and I wouldn’t want to experience those feelings if I had a choice. The great thing is, I do have a choice (for the most part) and if I don’t stick to those goals, I can re-orient myself and use those negative feelings as fuel to attack newer goals.
Goal setting is important for a number of reasons, it lets us reflect on our lives and think about the areas we need to work on. We are an ambitious species by nature and never satisfied with doing things a certain way. We constantly search for better ways to do things and that is AMAZING. Setting clear goals is the first step in our journey to becoming better people and fulfilling the ambitions we have for ourselves. When I talk of setting goals, I mean putting pen to paper and writing down the goals I have. I like the feeling of pen and paper but you could do this on your laptop or a mobile app. Moreover, I like the old school pen & paper route because there’s a fair bit of science to back up the claim that writing down your goals means you are more likely to achieve them. I firmly believe that the simple act of putting down your intentions on paper means that you have transformed a thought into an action.
I’m going to outline the FIVE steps I took when I set my goals for 2020. I hope these help you if you’re having trouble setting your goals for 2020 or if you just want to compare these strategies against the ones you use:
- Reflecting on the previous year’s goals – I began thinking about my goals for 2020 by examining the goals I set for 2019. I looked at the goals that I achieved successfully and how much joy they brought them me and the goals I didn’t achieve. The ones that I didn’t achieve were more important for me because I had to make a decision if I still wanted to pursue them or if I had to change them so that they aligned with what I want in the future. This was not easy because I had to be 100% honest with myself about what I want and why I failed, but it gave me the punch in the gut to start thinking of my goals for 2020 seriously.
- Having SMART goals – There is a reason why the acronym SMART has been used for so many years to describe proper goal setting practice- it WORKS. I came across SMART goal setting in Grade 7 – Thank you AKA,M. I’m convinced that if you set goals that are SMART, you are more likely to accomplish those goals than if you just wrote general statements about what goals you want to achieve. SMART goals provides a structure to quantify what you want to achieve and allow you to mentally plan out the steps you need take to achieve those goals.
A critique of setting SMART goals is that people set goals that they think they will easily achieve and they aren’t ambitious enough. The idea that we need to set “big hairy audacious goals” is great on paper but if your goals give you anxiety when you think about it, then you probably won’t work towards them. It’s amazing to have ambitious goals but if you want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro but you can barely climb out of bed at 6 am, you probably won’t climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and you’ll feel terrible about not having done it all year.
- Breaking larger goals into mini goals or pit stops– This is quite straightforward. If you want to read 20 books this year (which is one of my goals for 2020), that means reading about 1 book every 2 weeks. This can be further broken down to reading 20 minutes a day. If you read 20 minutes a day for 365 days, you’ll easily read 20 books AND you’ll foster a lifelong habit of reading every single day. Habits make up behaviours and behaviours determine how successful you’ll be. It is easier to complete a larger goal if you can break it down into habits or smaller milestones. This point reminds of a famous Chinese proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” and a Swahili saying that says “haba na haba hujaza kibaba” – which roughly translates to the same thing. Breaking down your goals and working on those goals everyday makes it more likely for you to succeed.
- Separating your goals into different categories – You may have goals that span across different areas of your life such as your work, family, and health. It’s important to think of your goals like you think of your overall health – you need to nourish you mind, body & soul. We all have different areas of our lives that we want to improve on and setting goals for the different areas allows us to think about how we can grow as people in all the areas of our lives. My goals for 2020 span across categories such as religion, health, finance, skill development, work, and relationships among others.
- Seeing your goals every day – I like getting feedback from people and from myself (whenever I can) about how I’m doing, it’s just the kind of person I am. That is why I designed a board last year to track my goals. I divided it into 3 sections: Not Started, In Progress, and Completed. Under each section is a sticky note with a goal and the progress I have made (if any) on that goal. It’s not fancy but I’ve put it in a place that I have to see it everyday (near the fan switch) and it forces me to acknowledge my progress and see which areas I am not giving my full attention to. I don’t suggest you create a board but you should have weekly or monthly “check ins” with yourself to evaluate your progress on your goals and see where you could be doing more to achieve what you set out to do this year.
I hope these tips can help you set better goals for yourself in 2020. In the past I have used some resources and I believe these could be of great use to you too. The Freedom Journal was a resource created by entrepreneur, John Lee Dumas that will improve your productivity and help you achieve your most pressing goals in the shortest amount possible. There is a free version available from his website and I can tell you for a fact that if you are willing to commit his simple methods, you will kick 2020’s butt. Secondly, Lara Casey, a mom of three, a successful author and publisher of PowerSheets has a tonne of stuff on her website that will help just about get their life in order in a very short amount of time.
Thank you for reading and have a great 2020!