I wanted to share a simple system I developed and used last year to improve as a person and achieve goals I’ve been pushing off for years. This is for people who have struggled with “new years resolutions” in the past and are overwhelmed or jaded with the idea of resolutions for 2017 because you’ve never been successful with them before.
Before starting, I’m sharing the backbone of the system: a spreadsheet I created that’s kept online so I can reference and update it from anywhere. From this link, you can either download the sheet or follow the link in cell A14 to create a private editable copy in your Google Drive. The first tab of this sheet has blank goals and the second tab is filled out with example goals
Step 1: Categorize
After writing out a list of general goals at the start of last year, I found that they all fall into four general categories. For me the categories were: financial, travel, education, and physical. You can customize these to your own situation but I would recommend starting out with four.
Step 2. Set Quantifiable and Achievable Goals
Begin by filling out 3-5 rows of goals for each category. This year and last I set 4 goals for each category. When writing your goals it’s important to make them as specific as possible so that you can accurately track them throughout the year.
|Go to the gym more||Go to the gym 100 times|
|Pay off some student loan debt||Pay off $10,000 in student loan debt|
|Find more freelance clients||Find 5 regular freelance clients|
|Lose weight||Achieve my goal weight of 160lbs|
In addition, your goals can be ambitious but should be achievable. If you’ve never run in your life you might want to have “Finish a Couch to 5k program” instead “run a marathon.“
Optional step: Rank and Prioritize
My goals didn’t have a clear hierarchy so the order of them was not essential, but you might find it easier to reach these goals if you have an order that you work through them.
By writing out categorized, quantifiable, and achievable goals instead of having vague ideas of resolutions in your head you now have greater clarity and control over the things you wish to accomplish over the next 12 months, reducing friction and anxiety to get started. You can now approach your goals in a clear and organized way.
Step 3. Track and Modify
Reference the goal tracking sheet monthly and evaluate your progress, color coding the goals as you complete them or modify them. If you are towards the end of the year and have been slipping on a goal, it is okay to adjust the terms. Telling yourself you can modify goals is key. For example: In 2016 I had the goal of visiting the gym 100 times. Around came October and I had been to the gym exactly 0 times. Instead of saying “I’ll never achieve that goal so I might as well not try,” I reset the goal to 36 times, or 3 times a week through the end of the year and I met that modified goal.
Step 4: Addressing Unmet Goals
In December I evaluated my 2016 goals and saw that I hadn’t reached 4 of 16 them. For these, I had a decision to either plan, modify, or cancel. Two of them I rolled over to 2017 and made them higher priority. One I modified and rolled over, and one was canceled because my interest in that specific goal changed.
I’m happy to answer any questions about this below. I’m hoping this kind of content is more effective for the readers of this sub than upvoting positive memes, as great as that feels. Best of luck to all of you hoping to better yourself in 2017.