Friday, January 2, 2015

Deciding on Goals for the New Year

Deciding on Your 2015 Goals

So now you know how to set reasonable goals, but just what goals should you make?  The easiest way to find what you need in your life is to brainstorm.  I have a variety of ways I deal with brainstorming.

Analyze Your Year

There's a good chance some things went very well for you and some things didn't in 2014.  Take a moment to note all of these in two lists.  Things what went well for you can become habits through goal setting.  Things that didn't go so well can be turned around using goal-setting.

Here's my chart for 2014!

From here, I can already begin to see goals I want to set.  Obviously, I'd like to fix my weight issue, my husband's student loans, and my scheduling issue.  But I'd also like to build on what went right, like by business as a caricature artist, or throwing the income I made from Witchy Words in 2014 back into the blog.

Pentacle Worksheet
One of my favorite brainstorming worksheets is the Pentacle Goals Worksheet I created in 2013.

This worksheet allows the elements to correspond with five different aspects of your life.  By compartmentalizing, you can begin to develop specific goals.  Here's my worksheet from 2014!

STEP 3Wheel of Life Lite

I downloaded this little nifty program for free in 2013 when I was looking at my goals and it really helped me!  This program sorts your life into eight distinct categories.  You need not stick with the eight categories they give you; I personally edited mine a bit.  You then rate your happiness in each section from "Very Bad" to "Excellent."  The basic concept is that a wheel must be well-rounded to function.  Wheels that are off-balance cannot turn or go with the flow of the path. By identifying your troubled areas, you know where you need more goals set.

Here's my Wheel of Life as of December 31st, 2014:

Clearly, I need the most work in health and finances.  I'm obviously the happiest with my spirituality and relationships.

Quantify Goals
So now I have some ideas of the kind of goals I want to set and the areas of my life that need the most work.  At this point, it's mostly just plugging those goals into the appropriate categories.  I liked the Wheel of Life's weight category system but their display, while very pretty, didn't give me a quantifiable number of goals.  I noticed that their scale works on a eight-step system, so I translated their chart into a chart of my own:

This chart organized each section alphabetically, used eight blocks shaded to the appropriate level of happiness and quantified it with a percentage at the end.

Setting Attainable Goals

At this point, I was armed with a list of goals and a set number of how many I needed to fulfill my year.  I was ready to start officially setting goals for the 2015 year!  But there are so many holes in my chart and so much work to be done.  How can I ensure that the goals I set are attainable?

If you're into goal setting and planning like I am, then I'm sure you've heard of making your goals SMART.  No, I don't mean increasing your fledgling goal's IQ points.  I mean S.M.A.R.T. - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.

A specific goal identifies all of the important components of your goal: The who, what, when, where, which and why's.  For example, saying "I want to lose weight" is too general.  Narrowing it down to "I will visit the gym in the morning three days a week and count my calories using a calorie tracking journal" gives you a much more focused view of your goal.

Making your goal measurable means giving it a specific quantifiable criteria.  Instead of saying "I want to lose weight," this would be more like "I want to lose 30 pounds."  If we keep the specific part of your goal in mind, this turns your original plan of "losing weight" into "I will lose 30 pounds through going to the gym in the morning three days a week and counting my calories using a calorie tracker."

Your goal also needs to be attainable.  Losing 30 pounds through exercising in the morning is a great idea, but what you're not a morning person?  Or what if you work too early in the morning to hit the gym?  You'll want to make sure you pave the clearest path for your goal by aligning it with your life.  You may discover that you have more time in the evening rather than the morning to do your workout, changing your goal to "I will lose 30 pounds through going to the gym in the evening three days a week and counting my calories using a calorie tracker."

The goal needs to be realistic as well.  You might want those 30 pounds to come off as quickly as possible, but it's unhealthy and unrealistic to attempt to lose it in a month.  Instead, spreading the pounds out through several months makes it easier to achieve.  A steady five pounds a month makes your goal more than doable.  Your goal now reads "I will lose five pounds a month over six months by going to the gym in the evening three days a week and counting my calories using a calorie counter."

Finally, your goal should have a specific time frame.  Six months could be any six months of the year.  Creating a due date will give you create a small sense of urgency (not anxiety, but need) to finish it!  When thinking about the timeframe, be sure to give yourself adequate time for setbacks when thinking about your due date.  Losing 5 pounds a month for six months will get you to 30 pounds lost, but perhaps you have a family emergency that sets you back a couple weeks?  Things happen!  So instead of setting your finalized goal at July 1st, perhaps you'd like to give yourself an extra month of leeway.

Your original goal may have read "I want to lose weight."
It now reads: "I will lose five pounds over six months with a goal weight of ___ lbs by August 1st through going to the gym in the evening three days a week and counting my calories using a calorie counter."

See how that goal seems much more attainable now?

So now that you have a few brainstorming charts worth of generalized goals and a working number of how to attain them, along with the information needed to make those goals realistic and workable, you're ready to start officially planning your New Year!

Next Up:
My 2015 Career Goals

To my audience:
Share with me your brainstorming worksheets and charts!
What method helped you the most?

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