Every new year, I come up with ambitious new goals to pursue … then forget about them as soon as February. But! I like to think that the act of goal-setting, anytime, allows the goals to seep into my subconscious where they drive my secret unknown behavior all year long. Because when I happen upon my annual goals sometime in November, they never seem all that alien. In fact, I’ve typically accomplished several, unbeknownst to me.
With such a limp-and-loose approach to goal follow-through, I like to think that it affords me some flexibility to how I go about setting my goals each new year.
I set yearly goals as an exercise in focus, motivation, clarity, and purpose. I find that I also set them to empty my brain of all the random things I think about and want to do, someday, somehow.
It’s a cleansing feeling to get it all out of my head and onto a list. Plus, there’s a jolt of excitement in revisiting the list toward the end of the year and seeing what kind of person I was when I put the goals together. Did I really want to own a pet? What version of me thought winning a card tournament was possible?
No doubt there will be more curiosities from my list of 2018 goals when I review them later this year. But there’s also no doubting the good feeling I get from putting the list together regardless.
For the last several years (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), I’ve set yearly goals. I’ve not been great at achieving them, but I sure do enjoy setting them. Most recently I shifted the goal-setting rules so that there were only one or two main goals that I’d aim for each year and then a bunch of smaller ones that I wouldn’t feel too bad if I didn’t meet. Here’s what the list for 2017 looks like.
1. Log 7,500 highly active minutes on my Fitbit
I’d love to focus on health in 2017, no matter what form that takes: more weights, more cardio, Whole30, Crossfit, mud run, America Ninja Warrior, etc. In general, being active will be a great outcome, and my Fitbit can tell me how I’m doing. It tracks activity, which is anytime my heart rate gets above 100. And 7,500 minutes this year would be 30 minutes per day (minus weekends) — a very doable goal, even if I’m way behind come September and need to run a half-marathon.
2. Memorize the book of James
I used to memorize stuff all the time, and I haven’t done as much lately. Fortunately James is one of the shorter books of the Bible (and one of my favorites), so I’m hoping the memorization muscle is still there. Like riding a bike?
The rest of my goals are split into things it’d be neat to achieve this year (2017), things that would be neat to achieve anytime in the next five years (2022), and things I’d love to achieve anytime (∞).
Send at least five emails to the newsletter list I’ve built from my website
I’ve reached a point where I want to do less, but do those things well. I’m a list maker at heart, and often I find myself unconsciously making a bucket list, and then feeling overwhelmed. So, I sit down and decide what are the three things that I MUST do this year. That pleases my soul.
That’s set me on a bit of a different path for thinking through this year’s goal list. I’ve never been a very big stickler for completing goals at all costs. (As you will see below, I met less than 1/3 of my goals from this past year.) But I think there’s some real value in this mindset shift where it’s less about these milestones and targets and more about the journey, no matter where that journey takes you.
One-year goals: This list gets reviewed a few times a year, and I create next year’s goals each December. I break this list down into further specific categories. Some of mine are Writing, Health, Business, Friends, Family, Service, Travel, Income, and Giving.
Know the names of all our immediate neighbors (2016)
Try a meal replacement mix for a month (2016)
Five-year goals: This list gets reviewed once a year and contains some of the “big things” you hope to do in the near future. Note that as some of the goals on the one-year list are completed, other goals from the five-year list shift down.
Give to charity: Pets, brain cancer, Seattle Pacific University (2021)
The best way to stop spending time on unnecessary distractions is to make a “to-stop-doing list.” This is better than a to-do list, because it helps you see what’s bringing you down. Your to-stop-doing list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of things you simply don’t want to do anymore.
These are goals that I am eager to accomplish in the coming year or the next five years or at some point, any point, ever. I write down anything and everything that I might ever hope to accomplish or experience, and then I set a plan to reach these goals some time soon—maybe in the coming year, or maybe the next 20 years. The point isn’t so much “when.” I’ve found it just as useful to reflect on the “why” and the “what” of these goals. Knowing what you want to do is a huge step toward someday doing it.