New Year, New You



The new year is a traditional time to set goals and find the motivation to complete them, but that can be easier said than done. What makes a goal a good goal? What is a good way to organize goals?


The most important part of establishing a goal is to make it realistic and relevant. Expecting to climb Mount Everest after a week of work if you’ve only walked in the park isn’t realistic, but after a year of special training, there’s a much higher chance at success. Of course, if you have no interest in climbing mountains, why would you set it as your goal in the first place? Choose a goal that you’re going to be interested in and be realistic about when you’re going to achieve it.


Planning is an essential part of being successful, especially in big, long-term goals. When planning, set an end date for the goal and break it into smaller subgoals. Write down the plan, possibly using a template to better organize your thoughts, and use a calendar or reminders to hold yourself accountable to your timeline and end date.


When making a plan for your goal, setting an end date can help with personal responsibility and ease the pacing towards success. If part of the plan is breaking up the goal into smaller pieces, set a date to have accomplished those too. Pacing yourself can help you be more patient and motivated in your achievement and success, especially in a long term goal.


Setting one large goal can seem unattainable and hard to do when looking at it as a whole, so breaking it down into smaller goals and setting progress checks is a great way to not be overwhelmed. For example, before climbing Mount Everest, you should concentrate on climbing a few smaller mountains first. By focusing on accomplishing the little goals on the way to a big goal, it can be easier to find motivation and feel less burdened.


Of course, not everyone is climbing Mount Everest. Goals are individual and could be about personal growth or a concrete achievement. Personal growth goals could be about developing a new skill such as learning how to cook or making a goal to remain healthier, and a concrete achievement could be finding a job or getting your driver’s license.


A goal I had last year was to get my driver’s license. The first thing I did was break down the goal into the necessary subgoals and set a completion date. For example, the online program had several different units, each with several lessons inside of it, and I grouped the units to focus on them one at a time. Afterward, I made myself a daily goal to complete one lesson a day so I could meet my completion date, setting reminders on my phone at a time each day where I knew I would be able to do the quick lessons.


If I missed one of the daily lessons, I didn’t let it bother me. Instead, I just promised myself to keep doing one lesson at a time and if I had extra time later, I would do an extra one. If I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do a lesson one day, I tried to prepare by doing an extra one beforehand. I kept track of my goal by using an outline I had planned out, making it easier to keep up with.


In the end, I didn’t end up completing my goal on the exact date I originally planned, mostly because appointments with the DMV are unpredictable, but I didn’t let this predictable barrier discourage me and I managed to get my driver’s license a few weeks later. 


It felt great to be able to accomplish the goal I had set and planned out for myself mostly like I had planned, and I learned that no matter what, it’s important to be realistic and plan appropriately for your goal. Being prepared will be the best asset to completing your goal.

This is what the planner looks like with the text spaces filled in.


If you click here, you will find a fillable PDF that you can download, fill out, and print to help planning. It includes space to describe the overall goal, subgoals (with a second page of subgoal space), and the day you want to start and complete the goal.