4 Steps to Achieve Your Goals This Year


What are your New Year’s goals?

Over the last few days, I’ve read numerous posts, emails, and articles about the importance of setting goals in the new year.

What I haven’t really come across is how to set those goals in the first place.

This is the basic framework I follow when I think about goal setting.

4-Step Goal Setting FrameworkWrite Down Your Goals

Want to meal prep? Exercise regularly? Improve your sleep habits? Read one book per month? Pay off debt? Build up your emergency fund?

All of these are great goals.

Whatever you’re aiming for, always start by writing it down. Research suggests that planning on paper helps memory retention and recall, increases focus, and reduces distractions. This is because the physical act of writing allows our mind to create a visual, tangible representation of our ideas.

So gift yourself as much time as you need to actually write down your goals.

» » » » » » » »  RELATED READ: Practices to Avoid When Setting Goals This Year  « « « « « « « « «

Narrow Down Your Goals

The easiest way I’ve found to write down focused goals is to start with the general aim and narrow it down into three steps:

Jot the broad objective

  1. I want to exercise
  2. I want to pay off debt

Make it more specific with a number

  1. I want to exercise three times a week
  2. I want to pay off my credit card debt of $2,000

Give yourself a deadline

  1. I want to be exercising three times a week every week by my birthday
  2. I want to pay off my credit card debt of $2,000 by the end of May

Bonus note: Keep your goals simple. Don’t set huge, complicated goals that will mean nothing in a few weeks. We want our goals to be realistic and attainable.

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Build a Roadmap

Once we have our simple, focused goals written down, we need to figure out a way to get there.

The first step to do this is to deeply understand your goals.

For example, if I want to exercise three times per week, I may pose myself questions like these:

  • What kind of work out(s) will I be doing?
  • Where will I exercise? (at home, at a gym, on the road, at a specialty studio, at a pool)
  • Which three days of the week will I be exercising?
  • At what time of the day will I be exercising?
  • Do I need to purchase any equipment or membership?

Or if I want to pay off my credit card debt, I may think through some of these details:

  • How much of my income can I dedicate to paying off credit card debt?
  • How many credit cards do I need to pay off?
  • Will I chip away at one card at a time? If so, in what order?
  • How often will I make payments? (weekly, biweekly, monthly)

Asking these kinds of questions will help you recognize what it takes to accomplish your goals. The goals themselves may need a little tweaking after this step to make them simpler or more attainable.

Now, in full consciousness, you’ll be equipped to build a plan that is realistic and that works for you.

In this step, it’s essential to be honest with ourselves about what we’re willing and able to do.

Set Milestones

Finally, I’ve found that the best way to maintain goals at the front of our minds is to track progress.

Setting pit stops along the way gives us the opportunity to review. How is it going? Is this still something I want to keep working towards? Can I go faster? Do I need to slow down?

Doing this exercise in self-reflection will allow you to recalibrate as necessary.

This is what will keep the goal alive throughout the year. When you pause and look back, you give yourself the opportunity to admire your efforts and be proud of them. This will help motivate you to keep going.

This goal-setting process does require a good bit of dedicated time to complete.

But it gives full clarity on what you’re trying to accomplish. This clear purpose and direction will greatly simplify the hardest part of goal setting: taking action.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.


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