set goals not resolutions

5 Steps to Setting Goals for the New Year (List-cember #8)

Can you believe we’re already in the last week of December?! Every year it seems like the day after Thanksgiving we start powering forward towards Christmas, putting every drop of our energy into all that it entails, and then suddenly it’s over and we’re sitting on December 26th like, “what do you mean the year is over in 5 days?”

To make matters more stressful, with the end of one year comes the beginning of a new year, and all the pressure associated with that. How can I make the coming year better than the last? What can I change? What can I cut out? What dance move do I need to learn?

It’s a lot to think about.

So, for this second to last installment of List-cember, I give you the 5 steps to setting goals for the New Year.


1) Set Goals, Not Resolutions

At the beginning of this year, I wrote this post after being inspired by another blogger to no longer make New Years Resolutions. In her post, she explained why it is important to instead set goals, as they are specific and concrete (i.e. read 30 books) while resolutions are much more vague (i.e. read more). The article really struck a chord in me and immediately after reading it, I wrote a list of goals for the year. As it turned out, the blogger was right. Having my goals spelled out in front of me made it easier to achieve them. I had numbers and dates involved and that gave me much-needed deadlines. It also prevented me from finding loopholes. With “read more” I could have rationalized any number as the “more”, while “read 30 books” (which by the way was actually on my list) is pretty bulletproof. (Ps- I did end up reading 30 books)


2) Pick absolutely anything

Your goals are just that, your goals. Don’t let anyone else tell you what they should be and don’t be ashamed of anything you want to throw on that list.


3) Don’t be so serious

Piggy backing off of #2, goals don’t always have to be these deep, philosophical creatures. When I was trying to get ideas for my list, I started sifting around for inspiration and kept finding these vague, heavy statements like “love more” or “attract more positivity”. And while those are great, and in some cases very necessary for someone looking for a fresh start, I didn’t feel like I really connected to any of them. At first this worried me. Does this mean my list is stupid? No! It just means the list is mine.


4) Find a balance between challenging and achievable

To give you a sports metaphor: think of Michael Phelps, a.k.a the greatest Olympian of all time. He set incredible goals for himself, many of which he appeared to achieve. This is because he found that balance. He was always pushing himself to do more, while still respecting what was possible. Imagine if his goal would have merely been to “make the swim team” or if it was to “win gold in every single swimming event at the Olympics.” He would have never become the champion he is today. This is why that balance is so important, it gets you in tune with what you are capable of, and even more, what you can be capable of if you put in the work.


5) Go for it

Once you set your goals, get after them! Don’t feel like you have to wait for anyone’s permission. Don’t even make yourself wait for January 1st! Just go for it. Achieve achieve achieve and then set more goals and start all over.just-do-it


What’s on your list this year?


Miss a List-cember post? Find them all here.

Streaky Mirror New Year

A few weeks ago I went on a completely compulsive cleaning binge; not one inch of the house was spared. I mopped floors, I washed dishes, I dusted dressers, I scrubbed toilets, all of it, and once I finished, I sat down on the couch and let out a long, satisfied sigh.

Later when I went to shower off the week’s worth of dust and dinge, I noticed the horrifically streaked bathroom mirror that hung above my sparkling clean counters.

How could I have missed this?

For a moment I considered stomping back downstairs to grab the Windex, but I was already exhausted so I just wet some toilet paper, wiped down the mirror, and smiled at myself in its newly clean surface.

Over the last week or so, there has been a lot of talk about a “deep cleaning” going on around the world, though for the most part it’s a completely different kind. With the new year finally ringing in, people everywhere are promising this and swearing that, so they might find themselves in better physical and emotional shape for the coming days. “New year, new me,” they say.

My sister and I often type up our resolutions on her typewriter. Each December we set it out on the table and add ideas as they come, enjoying their artsy and permanent look on the paper. This year however, I had a little trouble. Every time I sat down hoping to bring the typewriter to life, I drew a blank and walked away feeling discouraged.

A few days ago however, after reading this blog post titled, Set Goals, Not Resolutions, I felt a wave of inspiration. The author points out that a resolution is a promise to do an act of self-improvement, while a goal is an objective a person intends to achieve. In other words, a resolution would be to “exercise more” while a goal would be to “go to the gym 3 times a week.”

As I read through the post, I thought of my compulsive cleaning binge and my crystal clear mirror.  That night, after I had showered off the dust and gotten dressed to go to dinner, I noticed that my mirror was once again streaked, almost worse than before I had cleaned it. I shouldn’t have been surprised; I’d chosen a quick fix solution so I’d gotten a quick fix result. This is what we do when we make resolutions. With nothing but vague promises thrusting us into the new year, we are left without a plan of how to keep them, and often lack a complete understanding of what we’re actually looking to do.

I will be the first one to admit that the end of December always shows me the streaks I’ve collected throughout the past year. As I try to see myself and reflect on how to move forward, my vision is always clouded by the disappointments and the obvious improvements to be made. But as I welcome the new year and the unmatched inspiration it provides, I can’t keep looking for the quick fixes. If I really want to work towards achieving the goals I’ve set for myself, I’m just going to have to take those extra trips down the stairs for the Windex and start scrubbing.