One Little Step: 3 practical tips for successful goal setting

Goal setting. I know, I know, some of you are already cringing. It feels too much like New Year’s resolutions that we don’t keep anyway. Or, maybe after the chaos and all around hot mess that 2020 was, you are still simply in survival mode, and the thought of goal setting is just. too. much. right now.  If that’s you, that’s ok! In fact, I give you permission to quit reading this post right now if it will only add to your emotional overwhelm. However, if you are thinking about goal setting this year, or if you are kind of on the verge, then read on!

I used to do New Year’s resolutions. I would always fail by February, maybe on a good year I would make it to March. Then I discovered goal setting as opposed to resolutions. I discovered that when I have a goal with specific, attainable steps, I was able to make and keep making progress on my goals. With the help of a goal planner (I use PowerSheets by Cultivate What Matters, and no, this post isn’t sponsored, how cool would that be?), I’ve been able to really define and set goals that matter to me, deeply and personally. I know my why for my goals, and when you know your why, it’s much easier to keep working at those goals, little by little.

Complete honesty: goal setting feels hard this year. Once Covid hit in March, I lost a lot of the wind from my sails with my goals for 2020. Sure, there were some that I was successful at, and some that I was even able to excel at with the inordinate amount of time suddenly being spent at home. (I learned how to make sourdough bread, y’all. And I knitted several pairs of socks.) But forced isolation really has been rough on many relationships this year. I’m finding myself a bit paralyzed when it comes to trying to make plans for rebuilding relationships when I’m not sure if I’ll be *allowed* to. Or thinking about saving towards a trip that I might not be able to take. I know what I want to do, I’m just not convinced that I’ll be able to do it.

If you’re feeling paralyzed about goal setting this year, here are some practical tips I’ve learned about goal setting over the last couple of years.

I set goals where “success” is determined by what I do, rather than other people’s responses. 

For example, I would love to find a literary agent to represent my manuscript. But a goal like: “Have a literary agent by July 2021” is dependent on finding the right agent who is willing to represent my book. The success of this goal is dependent on the response of another person, and could succeed, or fail, for myriad reasons. I don’t have control over an agent’s response to my manuscript, or whether or not my book falls into what they are looking for right now. BUT, I have control over how many queries I send out, or if I send out any at all. A better goal would be: “Send out x amount of query letters by July 2021.”

I set goals (usually) where success is not determined by a number.

This could be a number on the scale, or the number of pages written, or the dollar amount that I’ve paid off or saved. I’ve lived enough years to know that life happens (often!), and there will always be things that get in the way of moving toward a specific number. Instead, my goals would look something like this: Planning healthy food choices and doing some form of movement each day. Having a time each day for writing and sticking to that commitment, no matter how many words get written. Making an extra payment each month, but having flexibility to shift that if unexpected car repairs need to happen.

Goals don’t have to be big to be meaningful.

Sure, I’d love to get my book published. (Not a goal that I’ve set, since it’s dependent on someone else for success). Maybe successful goal setting looks like reading one book this year, because it’s been years since you’ve read anything. Maybe it looks like putting your phone down in the last 20 minutes before bed, or giving yourself a bedtime and sticking to it because you stay up too late reading on the daily. What matters is that your goals matter to YOU. One small goal that you accomplish is better than many that you don’t. As Lara Casey of Cultivate What Matters says, “Little by little, progress adds up.”

If you’re feeling like goal setting is just too much to think about this year, and you read this anyway, THANK YOU FOR READING! I hope that you found some small nugget that you can take with you into 2021. If you’re already all about goal setting, I hope you’ll share your goals with me so that we can cheer each other on along the way. If you’re still on the fence, I sincerely hope that you find one small goal that you can accomplish, and let that energy and momentum spur you on from there!

In a couple of days, I’ll be starting a new series on my Instagram to take us through the month of January. This series will focus on rhythms and routines in our homes that serve us and our families as we live meaningful lives in ways that leave legacies that matter. You can choose one or many and decide what that rhythm or routine looks like FOR YOU. You can find me on Instagram and follow along with our January R+R.

Curious what my goals for 2021 are? I’ll be sharing those soon!!

Did you know that I send out a monthly newsletter? Subscribers get exclusive tips and tricks for curating rhythms, routines, and traditions to leave a legacy that matters. They also get access to exclusive content like recipes, creative writing, and so much other fun stuff! Newsletters drop at the end of each month, so you still have time to sign up for this month’s edition! Click here for access.

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