I talk about goal setting and personal development a lot on this blog, so it should come as no surprise that the new year is one of my favorite times of the year. I find there to be something incredibly exciting about the fresh start offered by the new year, and the opportunity to start with a clean slate. While I by no means believe you should be waiting until the new year to set goals for yourself, I also recognize the opportunity and motivation at this time of year and love the idea of putting pen to paper to pinpoint what it is you want to accomplish this year.

I do this myself! Some of my goals are fairly broad (such as taking at least one vacation this year.) Some of my goals are far more specific (such as the minimum dollar amount I want to make from my blog this year.) However, the thing that each of my goals has in common is that I plan to take further steps to make sure I accomplish them. The goals I set for each year are challenging, yet realistic – meaning they can likely only be accomplished if I put serious effort into each one.

Today I want to share the rules for goal setting that I plan to live by this year and that I encourage you to live by as well.

Reflect on the Past

I think personal reflection is an essential part of setting goals for the future. Take a look at the past year and decipher what worked and what didn’t. What goals did you accomplish? What steps did you take to get there? What goals did you fall short on, and why do you think that was the case? I also use the previous year as a benchmark to give me an idea of what is realistic for me to accomplish in the new year. Like I said, I want my goals to be challenging, yet realistic.

Know Your Why

I think many people set goals without really considering why they want to accomplish them. This is something I especially notice among fellow bloggers when it comes to traffic, social media, and income goals. It seems like people pick numbers they want to reach, without having a specific purpose or thought process behind that number. For example, perhaps you’ve made a goal of reaching X number of page views each month. What is the thought process there? Is that the number you need to reach to be accepted into a certain blogger network? Or perhaps a company you want to work with requires you to have that number of page views before they’ll work with you? While there’s nothing wrong with setting goals for the number of page views you have or the number of social media followers you have, I promise those goals will be far sweeter to reach if there’s an end goal in mind as well.

I want to share an example with you. Each year, I set a goal for the amount of money I want to make from my blog that year. I have a full-time job, so my blog isn’t currently paying my bills. At this point in my life, I’ve decided to use the income from my blog solely for two purposes: to reinvest into my business and to pay off personal debt (which is made up of student loans, credit card debt, and a car loan). So when I make a goal of what amount of money I make, I’m considering the amount of debt I have, how quickly I would like to pay it off, and how much I need to bring in each year in order to do that. From there I break that number down by month and write a business plan for what I plan to do each month to reach that number. So while the goal itself simply reads Make X Number of Dollars from Blog, the end goal is far more substantial.

Break Down Each Goal

When I consider the factors involved in reaching your goals, this is what I would consider one of the absolute most important steps. The biggest reason so many people fall short of their goals is the lack of follow-through, and creating specific action steps can help ensure that doesn’t happen.

Take a look at each of your goals, and break them down into four quarterly goals. For example – if your goal is to increase your Instagram followers by 10,000 this year, then your goal should also be to increase your Instagram followers by 2,500 each quarter. First of all, this breaks the goal into more manageable pieces. Second, this gives you a way to track your progress so if you haven’t gained 5,000 followers by mid-year, you know you need to change your strategy or increase what you’re already doing for the remainder of the year.

From there, I like to break each goal down into specific tasks that will fill out each month. These tasks will be far more bite-sized, ideally something you can add to your to-do list and accomplish in one sitting.

Let’s go back to my blog income example. For the year, my goal simply focuses on a dollar amount. I would break that down even further by the number I need to bring in quarterly in order to reach my annual goal. But that overarching goal will be broken down into literally hundreds of small tasks that will happen throughout the year. On one specific day, my to-do list might read update five old blog posts with affiliate links. This is something I can knock out really quickly. It’s a super small task that will push me toward my final goal.

You Might Also Like: Why Your To-Do List Isn’t Working

Work On Creating Habits and Routines

I find creating habits and routines for my daily life the most effective way to stick with my goals. Remember those small, broken-down tasks we discussed in the point above? Well, routines are the best way to ensure that you do in fact incorporate those tasks into your everyday life. I have morning and evening routines to make sure I’m being as productive as possible. I also have blogging routines to ensure I’m making time for my blogging tasks. I have routines that I stick by to ensure working out and eating healthy remain a regular part of my life.

The biggest benefit I see in routines is that it takes a lot of the guesswork out of things. I want to commit to regularly working out. So instead of each day facing the decision of whether I want to work out, when I want to work out, what workout I want to do, etc., I simply create a routine and schedule for myself. Then I don’t have to think about. So many of the routines I’ve made have become second nature for me, and I honestly forget that at one point in my life they didn’t exist and were formed out of necessity to reach a goal.

Constantly Remind Yourself of Your Goals

I think for many people goals and resolutions are things that are shared on a blog or on Facebook, or written down in a diary somewhere, and then never thought of again. I can understand why that’s the case, because how can we focus on these goals if they aren’t top of mind every day? If you follow the steps above about breaking down your goal, you should have a pretty regular reminder of your goals in your planner. I like to plan these tasks out well in advance so I’m not revisiting the list of goals daily but am still reminded of them regularly. It might also help you to write them on a post-it note and stick them in your workspace where you’ll regularly see them.

Measure your Progress

One of the cornerstones of a good goal is that it is measurable. And because of this, you’ll know without a doubt when you’ve reached it. Measuring your goals can help keep you motivated and keep your goals on top of mind. Measuring your goals also gives you checkpoints, so you know whether you’re progressing at the rate you need to in order to reach your goal by the end of the year. Seeing that you’re falling short with a goal gives you the opportunity to either change the steps you’re taking to reach the goal or change the goal itself. And it’s definitely okay to change your goals! You shouldn’t be spending your time working toward something that is no longer a priority for you, as it takes away time from things that are priorities for you.

Are you setting goals for the new year? Which of these goal setting rules do you plan to incorporate?

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