Making Goals: And Checking Them Off

It's been twenty-three days since January 1. If you set any goals for 2016, are you still focusing on them? Have you forgotten/given up/stopped caring already, or are you actively putting in the work to pursue them?

I am still pursuing. For the first time in a long time, I really am. 

Three weeks ago, I shared my list of goals for the year. (I called this list a work-in-progress, because the majority of my goals were so low-bar and basic, I know I'll need to step them up as the months pass. But they're my goals for now.) While a list of yearly goals is great, it's so...big. The goals in themselves may not be, but the idea is. We're talking about goals, resolutions, and changes for an entire year. It seems so intangible. 

Typically, 365 days go by before you check your progress on a yearly goal. Most of us who set goals on January 1, 2016, won't start worrying about whether or not we've actually accomplished them until late December rolls around. Unless you stay focused.

And here's how to do that.

These drawn-out, far-reaching goals must be broken down into smaller goals. Monthly or weekly goals that ultimately allow you to check off the big (or not really so big) goals for the entire year.

Let's say one of your goals for 2016 is to Read More Books. This goal is a bit too vague to begin with, but we'll work with it. You have to decide how many more books you're talking about. Do you mean fifty? Or are you okay with three? Once you create a specific goal, you can figure out how to get there. 

You decide you want to read twenty-five books in 2016. We're already approaching February, so if you really want to read twenty-five books this year, you should get movin'. You resolve to truly take this goal on, and in doing so, you break those twenty-five books into something more doable for now. You decide that, to make up for lost time and to get a head start, during the month of February, you want to read four books.  

There's your monthly goal. Isn't that 4 much more digestible than the kinda overwhelming 25? But you can't stop there. 

When Monday, February 1 rolls around, you grab a notebook and write down the goals that will actually get you where you want to be: weekly goals. It's Monday. This week, you want to:

1) Peruse Goodreads for a book that interests you,
2) Go to the library to check out this book,
3) Begin reading.

See, now you're doing it! Next week, you'll aim to finish this book and start another. Then again after that and again after that. And in March, you'll try for three books. And three more in April. And before you know it, it's December 31, 2016, and you've read your twenty-five books.

Or, you keep your vague goal to Read More Books. By February, you've mostly forgotten about that goal. You keep meaning to go to the library, but something else always seems to come up. You do manage to read most of Brave New World on your summer vacation, but you don't have time to finish it before you get back home, back to the real world. Before you know it, it's December 31, 2016, and you've read...some of a book.

All you have to do is decide how badly you want to accomplish a specific something, then do it.

This is the method I used to lose 70 pounds. To be able to run a 5K without walking breaks. To read through the entire Bible. It forces you to check your own progress. It requires dedication and focus. And it works. So I'm back here with you, starting from scratch, doing it all over again.

You've already seen my list of goals for 2016. Here's the list I made last Sunday for this week:

Going to this list every couple of days to check things off is a really rewarding experience (but then again, I am kind of a weirdo about making lists and ticking off checkboxes). It's keeping me on track, refueling my motivation, and, most importantly, forcing me to evaluate myself regularly.

Whatever your goals are- from becoming debt-free to becoming fluent in German- you must remember this: pursuing goals is a daily event. Each day, the things we do or don't do either move us closer to reaching a goal or they do not. 

You have 343 days left until 2017. What do you want to do?


Regine Karpel said...


Jessica said...

So proud of all the awesome goals you made and are sticking to! I never even wrote down my 2016 goals...and they are all basically forgotten. I like the idea of dissecting the big goals into small, achievable, daily goals. I really need to implement this system into every area of my life!