How to Set Goals (For Those Who Hate Setting Goals)


Does the phrase “New Year’s resolutions” make you cringe? I feel you. I used to try to make new year goals, but after several failed attempts I quickly gave that up. I got to the point that I did not set goals in January because I knew by February they would all be down the drain. So why even try? Why set a goal that I was inevitably going to fail? Why set a goal that I knew I wasn’t going to accomplish? I would start out strong, but quickly fizzle out over the month, and then just can the whole thing. Ever been there before?

And it wasn’t for lack of trying. I completed workbooks on goal setting and listened to people wiser than myself tell me all the benefits of setting goals, but still it never seemed to work for me. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. Plus, I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to overthink things, overanalyze, and put immense pressure on myself, which is not super helpful. This pressure usually keeps me from even trying to accomplish something that I want.

However, last New Year things felt different. The last few years I have worked extremely hard on personal growth, and I knew I wanted to continue down that path in 2017. I knew one thing: setting goals for the whole year was overwhelming. So what I decided to try was this: set goals just one month at a time. And guess what? IT WORKED!   

But how? First off, I kept it simple. I used the Notes app on my phone and made a list. It was titled 2017 Goals and had a list of the months of the year. Under each month I would bullet point some things that I wanted to achieve for that month. In January I had one thing on my list, doing a Whole30. If you have ever done a Whole30 you know achieving that one thing for the month is a HUGE win! I didn’t even try to add anything else to that month. February had eight goals for the month, five of those were books that I had started to read and had not put forth the effort to finish. I wrote down the titles and finished every single one. One of the books I finished the last day of the month! From there, each month looked a little different. Most months only had two or three goals that I wanted to accomplish. I looked far enough ahead that I could set reasonable goals for myself, but not so far ahead that it seemed unrealistic or discouraging.

Looking back, I can see all of the things that I accomplished over the course of one year. Wow! I never knew I was capable of such things! I’m amazing! It has filled me with so much energy and motivation for 2018 after seeing what I can actually do (without stressing myself out). And if I can do it, anyone can. Seriously. So what do you want to accomplish in 2018? Scratch that, what do you want to accomplish in January 2018, then February 2018? It’s not too late to set some goals. Start small, and you can accomplish big things.

Here are some suggestions to get you started. 

1)    Only look at one month at a time

2)    Keep it simple

3)    Give yourself grace, life happens

4)    If you can’t accomplish a goal one month, move it to the next month. You are the one that set the goal, so you can change it. It’s okay, I promise.

5)    Keep a positive mindset: even if you don’t accomplish exactly what you had in mind, I guarantee you will have gotten further toward your dreams than if you had no goals at all.

6)    Remember that you are amazing: whether you accomplish the goals you have written down or not, you are worthy of love and are on this earth for a reason. 


xoxo, Navy