I no longer create New Year’s resolutions. I think resolutions can be vague, over-reaching, and hard to achieve. Instead each year I set goals for myself. What is the difference? A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. A goal is the object of a person’s ambition or effort. The difference is in making up your mind to do something vs. actively working towards what you want. I don’t know about you, but my “resolutions” or mental resolve is often not strong enough to sustain me throughout the year. How often do you set resolutions that fall flat when you hit a bump in the road?

Sunrise in Arizona


2018 Word of the Year

For the past several years I have set not only goals but chosen one word to guide me throughout the year.

Focus. Happy. Create. Do. Balance.

This year’s word is SIMPLIFY.

I want simplicity. I want uncluttered. I want space to breathe. I want clarity. I want white space. I want routine and structure.

Simplify Definition

I am so tired. Tired of running around like a crazy person trying to do everything and be everything for everyone. I know in my heart what is important, but I am often choosing the urgent over the important. I am running myself ragged and know that I can’t sustain this pace for much longer without something coming undone. And already 2017 was a year of a lot of things coming undone.

I am tired of being so busy. Running from one thing to the next without having any time to actually enjoy what I am doing or who I am with. It is exhausting and I know I need to find a way to get off this hamster wheel.

Simplifying every aspect of my life can only bring peace. I have big plans to declutter my whole house. I will practice the art of saying no to the things that are complicating my life, and yes to my priorities and dreams. I will start to take care of myself. I will fiercely love myself like I do my kids and my husband. I will grow my business by being smart about my time.

Where do I want to be at the end of 2018? I love having a word of the year because it helps me to keep my “big picture” in mind.  But things don’t actually get done unless you have a plan, and this is where goals come in.

How To Set Goals

I set goals in six major areas of my life – self, health, relationships, financial, home, and work. I start by looking at the big picture. Where do I want to be in six months, a year, or even five years from now? I write out those big lofty dreams and goals on paper. They can be scary or even seem unachievable.

I feel like this is where a lot of people stop.

Grand Canyon 2017

These big dreams and goals are like resolutions. You can set your mind to grow your business, strengthen your marriage, or make time for giving your undivided attention to your kids, but those feelings and wishes are not concrete.

You have to ask yourself HOW?

This is where goal setting comes in. I take each of these long-term goals and work backward.

Let’s take my health, for example. My big dream is to be strong and healthy. I want to have a lot of energy and feel good. I want to not worry about my weight but rather focus on how I feel.

Yellow flowers

How can I do all of these things?

  • Drink lots of water (ideally 8+ cups per day)
  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Exercise most days of the week with strength training in addition to cardio
  • Only eat when I am truly hungry and not eat my feelings
  • Choose healthier options for snacks

I know what I need to do. If I only had a resolution I should be able to do all these things, right? Well, honestly, no. Thinking about what I need to do and actually doing it are two completely different things.

Monarch Butterfly on Butterfly Bush

If I am being honest, I am starting in a place where I have really neglected myself and my health over the past few years. I don’t exercise, I don’t eat very well, and I don’t often make time for myself. Let’s say I am basically starting from ground zero. I know myself well enough to know I can’t make a bunch of huge changes right away, no matter how motivated I feel at the beginning of the year, the month, or the week. I need to start slow and create habits.

I am already doing pretty good about drinking water, but just not quite enough on a consistent basis. Here are my water goals:

  • January – 6 cups per day
  • February – 7 cups per day
  • March – 8 cups per day
  • Rest of the year – 8 cups or more per day of water, and drink all my water before I choose another kind of beverage (other than my morning coffee)

These are trackable goals. I can literally track how much water I drink each day. It isn’t a vague “drink more water” but actionable steps to get there.

And I can break them down even further. In January I will drink 2 cups before 10:00 AM, 4 cups before 2:00 PM, and 6 cups by 6 PM. This way, throughout the day I know where I need to be and what I need to do to get there if I am not.

I do this for all of my goals. Start with the end in mind, and then work backward. I use my habit tracker to track each month’s little goals I am working on. I re-evaluate what is working and what is not at the beginning of each month. If I didn’t do so great on something I think I would have nailed, I will work on it a little longer until I feel like I can move on to the next thing.

Tell me in the comments, what is your word for the year? What goals have you set for yourself? We will be talking more about this in my new Creative Community on Facebook, as well.

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