1. Dump them all
I’ve found the most effective way to start the year is to just write down every single thing. I brainstorm anything that I want to do, become, work on or check off a to-do list. These are all of the ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for the last week and pop into my head in the shower or while I’m folding laundry. They can be short term (doable tomorrow) or long term (later this year) or really long term (years away). Keep this list somewhere you can refer to later- this is gold.
In general, whenever I’m making to-do lists I always categorize them into the major hats that I wear and/or areas of my life. The categories I usually list are Mom/Wife, Self, Spiritual, Work, Home. It helps me to remember the most important things I need to do as well as keep life balanced. I love seeing the big picture and need to make sure I’m not only working on work or cleaning the house- but I’m fitting in time for my husband, spirituality or specific time for my kids.
So when making goals for the year, I’ll also categorize my goals into these areas. I want to make sure I have several important things to work on in each area so that I’m improving in all directions. So I’ll make a second list that specifically lists 2-4 goals I want to work on for the year in each area.
3. Set Monthly Goals that Correlate
In the past I’ve been able to keep these major goals in mind and slowly work on some of them- but not all of them get attention that way. This year my plan is to make monthly goals that correlate with my larger goals. I am going to set them for the first quarter of the year and then in April- I’ll look at where I’m at and set goals for the next three months. These will be very small goals so that they are manageable and effective. One example for me is that my January goal for my health/self is to drink more water. I’m chronically dehydrated and rather than make a goal like eating clean for the month or working out four days a week- I just plan on drinking a ton of water.
4. Make Them Visible
The biggest factor in my goals being met in the past has been how visible they are. When I was a freshman in college one of my goals that year was to run a marathon. I had post its, quotes, a running schedule and inspiring magazine pages all over my dorm room. The constant reminders of my goal made a big difference in me accomplishing my goal. I’m big into a paper planner so I will be writing down my monthly goals in several places in my planner. I’ll also be posting a note on my fridge and my bathroom mirror to remind me.
5. Expect Mess Ups
I fully expect plenty of non-compliance from myself. It seems impossible to have both high hopes of making changes while also expecting to fail- but I think that is the only way things work. It can take a long time to make actual changes. Last year one of my goals was to start family scripture reading every night as a habit and it took us the entire year for me to feel like- yep, its a habit for us now. We skipped PLENTY of nights but we also started up and read again every time we skipped. That goal now serves as a good example for me and our family that no matter how many times we missed, we still ended up with a good habit out of it.
And that is that. These really are five ways that I work on my goals and make things happen. These are my best efforts at keeping my life balanced and moving forward in all areas. They aren’t complicated, perfect or over done- but they help me.
What do you find helps you make/accomplish your goals? What are your goals this year?