Setting Goals for the New Year

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Goal-oriented people REALLY like to set new goals at the end of the year.  There’s something very appealing to starting the new year with a fresh slate.  Having new goals at the beginning of the year makes you feel full of hope and excitement.

Of course, if you know anything about New Year’s resolutions, you know that most people don’t keep them for very long.  I think it is only a matter of weeks, and sometimes even days, before people give up on their New Year’s resolutions.

But even knowing the statistics, it is still tempting to set goals for the new year.  Are you a New Year’s goal setter?  I am.  Every December, I set a series of goals for the new year.  I don’t call them New Year’s resolutions, because I don’t tend to keep New Year’s resolutions.  Instead I’m creating a whole year’s worth of goals.

There are many types of goals that you can set for your year ahead: health goals, money goals, personal goals, or work goals.  Generally, I like to set goals in all of those categories.

The 12-Week Year

While I like to set annual goals, I do tend to break them down them into quarters.  This past year I read the book “The 12-Week Year,” and it really opened my eyes to think about the year in smaller chunks.  When we set annual goals, it is too easy to let them go until the bitter end, and then we are scrambling to try to finish them before year’s end.  With quarterly goals, you have a smaller chunk of time in which to get the work done.  This stops a lot of procrastination.

One way to use this technique is to break each annual goal into four chunks.  Each chunk represents a quarter’s worth of work, and you can further break that into smaller steps.  It is much more manageable to think about a long-term goal if you can break it down into very small pieces.  It makes it easier to accomplish each little piece, and then before you know it, you’re making great progress toward your annual goal.

Another way you could approach this is to pick some annual goals, and then assign each goal to a quarter.  So for example, if you choose four goals for your year, you might assign one goal per quarter.  Then you will work like a madman on just that one goal for the 13 weeks of the quarter.  This focus can bring a lot of momentum towards reaching your goal.  But this method really only works well if you can leave the other goals mostly unattended while you are focusing on your single quarterly goal.

Big goals versus smaller goals

It is also tempting to set very large goals for your year.  The rationale is that you have an entire year to get them done.  Often though, the goal is so large that you freeze almost immediately and don’t know what to do first.  That is why chunking down the goals into smaller time frames and smaller steps is so powerful.

In general, I am a big fan of having big goals.  It’s just one of those things where you have to know yourself.  Are you the type of person that makes a big goal, and then abandons it because it’s too overwhelming?  Or are you somebody that already likes to break annual goals into smaller, more manageable pieces?

I like to have a mixture of big and small goals, but some people just set small goals.  That works just fine if that is your style.  The advantage to setting a lot of smaller goals is that you can make quick progress.  For example, you might set ten reasonably small goals for the year.  Then you can start on one for January and work on it until you have it complete.  Then you can move on to the next one.  This technique works especially well when your goals are more like small projects.  Maybe it is a small house project or just a task that you have not managed to complete.  It can be fun to have a laundry list of small tasks that you tackle when the year begins.

When it comes right down to it, it doesn’t really matter what method you choose.  People who set goals tend to accomplish more in their lives, so learning how to set goals in a way that works for you is important.  I encourage you to try different methods and find the ones that work for you.


Do you set goals for the new year?  If so, what is your preferred method?  Share below!  Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!

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You might also enjoy:

Should Your Goals be Simple?  Or Big, Hairy, and Audacious?

A New Year.  A New Financial You

5 Ways to Kickstart Your Finances in the New Year



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