The Best Ever Goal Setting Activity for the New Year

The Best Ever Goal Setting Activity for the New Year | Reining in Mom

Yes, I know it’s mid-January and we all should be well done with our goal setting activity for the new year. We’ve already set our intention, mind mapped it, brainstormed it, and written it in fairy dust on our entryway mirror for all to see for eternity.

But if you’re anything like me, you start January in a slow roll rather than in a big pre-orchestrated firework show bang. Coming off the fun but busy time of Christmas, Hanukkah (we do both in my house) and family vacations, January can slip by unacknowledged.

That’s why I put in some work to take full advantage of what Gretchen Rubin calls the Strategy of the Clean Slate for habit formation. Basically, a change in routine, like the New Year, primes us to change habits or make big moves in our lives that maybe we wouldn’t feel capable of in one of the more humdrum months.

With some intentional guided work, January can feel like a calm pool inviting us to strip off the apparel of last year and dip our toes into the new year refreshed, renewed, and with refocused energy.

January is like a calm pool where we strip off last year and dip our toes into the new year.Click To Tweet

I personally need a lot of guidance. If I just leap into “what do I want for the new year” I wind up with no ideas, or so many that I want to curl up in the closet with my Milanos (not Manolos. Ha! That was a long time ago in a closet far far away) and hide until my sugar coma obscures how hard it is to make any forward progress in my life when raising up two tiny people.

New Year, New You Goal Setting Activity

Now that I’m bullet journaling, and diligently following Boho Berry for bullet journaling tips, I was excited to try her take on Lisa Jacobs’s New Year, New You goal setting activity. It was a lot of writing, and took several days to complete (she writes it out as a seven day plan), but I found it enormously helpful.

Review Last Year

It starts as a review of last year’s accomplishments. What was time and money well spent last year? What did you overcome? Who helped you achieve your goals?

There are ten questions like this that really help start out the review on a positive note. I did get something accomplished last year even though it feels like it went by in a blur! Understanding how far you’ve come is key to maintaining motivation for long term goals.

Understanding how far you've come is key to maintaining motivation for long term goals.Click To Tweet

The first day of review also helped focus my priorities. I felt best last year when I had good experiences rather than buying something. Keeping this in mind should help me curb impulse buying and thinking Gosh, I’d be happy if I just had X shiny new thing!

Next you review where there is room for improvement. What was time or money wasted? What or who held you back? Is there anything you are leaving unfinished? For me, my greatest challenges were wasting time watching TV and Facebook, which I’ve vowed to resolve this year. I also vowed to get back on the no-sugar train by doing a Whole30 in January.

Set Your Intentions in the 5 Pillar Categories

I love that Jacobs breaks down goals into the 5 pillar categories of physical, mental, relational, financial & spiritual goals. In each category you ask the same questions: what do I want and why, how will I get it, what’s stopping me, and what’s my benchmark for success?

This was so key for me because I tend to just lump everything together and get overwhelmed. By breaking the goals into separate categories I can really dive deep to think about what I want from each one and why. I had so many more ideas for my goals and how to accomplish them by doing it this way.

Get Visual

The next step is to create a time pie chart. This will show how you spend your time, and hopefully motivate you to spend it more productively.

For me, I saw how limited my free time really is and that I need to use it to my benefit. I spent too much of it on mindless activities that were actually not even relaxing. If I’m going to be mindless, I at least want to recharge.

I also saw that a huge part of my day was spent on housework, which I hate. So a major financial goal became to make enough money to afford a housekeeper.

After the time chart comes the mind map for each pillar goal category and was the most fun. I completely lifted the design from Boho Berry because she’s brilliantlay artistic, I am not. It really helps to have my goals laid out visually and I reference these maps in my bullet journal often.

But I was still overwhelmed by the number of goals and the number of different categories. How would I accomplish all these things in the precious few hours I have a day to myself?

Ensure Progress By Assigning Each Goal Category to a Day of the Week

Time to prioritize. I’ve been doing the Good Life Project so I knew my need to contribute financially to the family while staying at home is my highest value goal right now. I then mapped out my typical week and saw where I had chunks of time available for what I call “growth work” in any one of the five categories. I assigned two days to my financial goals and a day each to the other three categories.

For the physical category, I am already doing the Whole30going to the gym three days a week, and going to bed on time (mostly). So I didn’t need blocks of time to work on that. I made Saturday a free-for-all day where I could catch up on one of my goal projects or just read a novel if I wanted.

So far so good. Now everyday I pick one thing to work on based on my assigned day. I find I’m more productive in the morning, and it’s easier to continue to work on something at night than to start something new at night. I wake up an hour before my kids, do my meditation and brief intention-setting journaling using the Good Life Journal, and start on my most important and meaningful task for the day.

After the kids are in bed and my chores are done, I have another hour or so to work on my goal. I also find time to work on it during the day usually because starting in the morning actually helps me find little pockets of time. Since I already have a direction and have made a start of it in the morning, I can just pop onto the computer to work on a blog post, an application for a freelance writing job, or “finding my tribe,” during a few moments of downtime here and there when I would normally be mindlessly scrolling Facebook.


Now I’m making incremental progress on all of my goals. Measurable progress is so important, Mama! It is nearly impossible to measure your progress parenting, so having tangible goals you can work toward is key.

Some days, I get an hour or two of time to work on my goals. Some days its only minutes. But it still feels good either way. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and all that.

What do you do to take advantage of the New Year? Do you do any goal setting activity to take advantage of the clean slate? Do you review the previous year or plow ahead? Let me know in the comments!

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The Best Ever Goal Setting Activity for the New Year | Reining in Mom

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  1. This sounds great! I’m glad that you’re back in the blogging world. I really enjoy your schedule and your plans. As for me reviewing the previous year, I did a four day series of retrospections on 2016. Now it is time to plow ahead!

    1. Thanks! I am so not artistic that the bullet journal lets me push that a little bit without feeling like I have to “draw” or something fancy 🙂 I love goal setting and usually do the same, but I found it helpful to reflect mostly because I rarely give myself credit for accomplishments. I just see the next 5 things I have to do! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  2. I am far more productive in the morning too! I generally only wake a few minutes before my daughter but may aim for an hour like you do. I get a solid 3 hours in the evening but I still feel like I am so behind on life!

    1. There never is enough time, is there? I get a few hours in the evening too but I feel like the morning is when I can really dig deep on those hard thinking tasks. Good luck!

  3. I don’t think you are giving yourself enough credit! Raising children, trying to work at home and maintain a house is enough to make anyone sit in a closet. Keep pushing forward, I love the journal.

    1. Thanks Jacqui! I appreciate the encouragement and props. I definitely fall into the trap of thinking I should be doing more than “just being a mom.” Maybe I’ll add working on that mindset to my goals!

  4. Love these goal for new year! For me in years past I have written goals for different categories such as home, spiritual, work… Etc. This year though I felt lead to take a different approach as I looked back on things I walked through last year and was taught. This year I really feel lead to just focus in on one word 🙂

    1. Focus is definitely something I have to work on too. This actually helps me focus because I know I need to concentrate on financial (2days a week) but if I only do financial then I feel adrift in the other areas. Good luck with your focus!

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