Goal Setting for 2024 – From Vision to Routine – Your Roadmap to Success

Goal Setting is such a big part of living the life you want to live.  While it’s a pretty easy thing to do, there are some extra bits that can drastically increase the success that you experience.  Creating good Vision, Mission and Value Statements will inform the goals that you set as well as clarify your motivations. From this perspective you can set good SMART goals, and also tackle how to head off some of the things that are most likely to derail or distract you from actually accomplishing your goals.

Review Last Year

This first step, or Step Zero, is to take some time to really review your last year.  I have a blog post and video where I walk through that process.  A really good review will give your insight into what you already accomplished and what specifically allowed you to be successful in those accomplishments.  It will also give your insight into what held you back from completing your goals, and that is also super helpful information to have as you move forward.  Knowing what got in your way last time, will help you plan for how to navigate or avoid those things when they inevitably come up again. So, if you haven’t already, either follow along with one of my review exercises, or do your own.  It’s time well spent, and a great investment in your future success.

Successful Goal Setting Starts with Ideation

Now that you have completed a review, let’s start looking forward. We’ll start with crafting a vision statement for this year.  You can certainly set your vision for whatever timeframe makes sense to you.  You can give yourself a 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, or 10 year vision, whatever timeframe you want.  And there is value in looking at you life from each of these perspectives.  For our purposes, however, we’re going to create a 1 year vision statement.  As you answer the questions below, remember that you are the only one who will see the answers, so feel free to completely honest.  That will serve your best interests.

Start designing your dream life by asking yourself these questions

Starting where your review left off, answer the following questions:

  • What helps you feel energized?
  • What brings purpose and meaning to your life?
  • What would you do, if you knew that you could not fail?
  • What would you do if you had unlimited funds?
  • Who do you want to become?
  • What skill or hobby would you like to learn?
  • What does your dream life look like?
  • Where do you want to be in 1 year?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice to carry out your goals?
  • What habits do you want to create or cut this year?
  • How can you make your environs reflect who you are becoming instead of who you were?
  • What are your top 5 motivations?

These may be more essay questions than short answers, that’s ok! 

The first seven questions are all very forward looking.  If everything were perfect, nothing bad ever happened, what would you say? This is a time to be 100% rose colored glasses, glass half full. Questions 8 and 9 are a bit more realistic, they focus on the reality that if you could carry out all your goals, you would have already done so. Check out your review, reflection and assessment to find clues to how to answer them, as well as 9 and 10.  Question 10 in particular is about what is your “Why”? Look at the things that you do, as well as the things that you don’t do, and ask, why? From here we will move into crafting an annual mission statement.

Vision, Mission, Values – The Next Step In Successful Setting Goals

Your vision and mission can certainly change from year to year, so this is a good exercise to go through periodically and to check in with yourself.  Check in with your life.  If there are big differences between where you are and where you wish you were, then you will know that you have lots of things to choose to work on. 

The goal of a mission statement is to clearly, and concisely say your purpose, how you plan to achieve your purpose, and the reason why you want to do the things that you do.  It sounds easy, just try it though. 

Your mission MIGHT be about your work life, or it might be about your “higher calling”. You might work and find that your mission has to do with your hobbies or volunteering.  Go ahead and broaden your thoughts about what your mission might be for this year.  

To that point, we’re really only looking to create a mission for THIS YEAR.  If thinking about your whole life is daunting.  Just look at the next 12 months.  It’s a big enough chunk of time, that you can dream a bit, and still small enough that you (hopefully) won’t feel overwhelmed.  So that being said it’s totally possible, and likely, that your mission will change throughout your life.  Heck, if your mission changes in the middle of the year, go with it.  That’s ok. Just to be clear, this is a Big Picture, High Level look at your life.  While we do want to be specific, we also want to leave things open and broad enough to encompass our life for the next 12 months.  If, like most people, you would appreciate a bit more guidance, lets look at the questions below.

How To Figure Out Your Mission for This Year

  • Based on your answers to the questions in the “Vision” section, what do you feel called to do?
  • Do you feel “nudged” or “called” towards certain things?
  • Your mission statement for the year should answer the following questions as succinctly as possible:
    • What are you doing
    • What is the higher purpose of doing that?
    • What values are you living while doing this thing?
    • How does this supply value?
  • Here’s a mission statement template:
  • [Your purpose] [How you do what you do] [Reason behind your actions]

Cool, do you have a nice snappy mission statement now?  If yes, great, let’s move on to Values.  If not, let’s move on to Values anyway, and you can come back to the mission statement later.  Alternatively, just write down something vaguely mission statement – like, and you can always come back and revise it later. The key here is to do your best at this time and move on. Don’t get lost in the details, or derailed by it not being perfect.

Values…

These are kind of the guideposts that you live your life by.  The things that you might consider part of your identity.  These are things that you probably don’t consciously spend a lot of time thinking about, and yet they inform and shape every day of your life, every conversation and every relationship.

Probably the two easiest way to work through this is to either look up a list of “personal Values” or to take an online quiz.  Most likely several of the values will stand out to you more than others.  Pick the top three to five that seem most relevant to you and try them on.  Say out loud, “my values are …” and list off those 3 to 5 that you picked.  How to they feel? If they feel brutally honest, OK, go with it.  If something feels off, try another one. Again, close enough is good enough. If perfection is the enemy of completion for you, acknowledge that, and encourage yourself to keep moving. You can come back and change, or perfect it later. We want to get something down on paper today. All of this is open to adjustment when ever you want.

This is another exercise that you should definitely do from time to time, but don’t get bogged down in it.  If you feel like nothing fits, or they all fit.  Write down what seems most OK, and then move on.  You can always come back later and revise your answers.  It’s totally possible, and highly likely that you will want to confirm, or change you answers after you’ve had some time to let it marinate in your mind.  If you’re looking for some questions to get the ball rolling, try to answer these. 

  • What are your non-negotiables?
  • What boundaries do you need to set?
  • Think about the stories that you tell the most often about yourself.
    • Now figure out, when you tell those stories, what are you trying to signal to the listener?
    • That may signal a core value for you.

Now that you have at least a starter pack of Vision, Mission and Values…

Let’s (FINALLY!) Get to Planning Our Next Year

Pull out your planner, notebook, app, or whatever you are using to write down your plans for the next year.  We’ll start by writing a clean copy of your vision and theme for the next year.  Your vision is what we already did.  If you feel that you have a theme for the year, go ahead and write that down next.  If you don’t have a Theme, just skip it.  Ultimately, this is YOUR Annual plan, so it should make sense to you, and reflect your unique personality.  If any part of this doesn’t resonate for you, just skip it.  Or if anything seems like it needs to be adapted to suit your needs, do that.  The whole process is very flexible, and you will see the best results when you do things your way. 

Now that all that is out of the way, what do you want to prioritize this year? 

Look at your year end review from last year.  Were there things that you missed that you want to work harder on, or focus more on?  What about the things that went well? Do you need to continue to prioritize them so that they will continue to go well? 

Next up is to think about what you want MORE of this year, and what your want LESS of this year.  How can you do that? What do you need to make that happen?  Your “Not-To-Do” List might be a good thing to reference here, especially for what you want less of in your Ife.

Based on what you want more of, and what you wrote out in your vision planning, what needs to be on your Bucket list for this year? These don’t necessarily need to be big lifetime bucket list goal, just annual bucket list things. For example, these are fun things that will enrich your life.  Things that if you do them, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be telling the stories about “that one time…” for years to come.  Your annual bucket lists can include things that you just don’t want to miss out on this year.  Whether it’s a solar eclipse in your backyard or remembering to go to the July 4th fireworks.  What are the things that you really want to go do, just for fun this year?

Between your bucket list and the things that you already have scheduled for the upcoming year, what are you most looking forward to?  Vacations? Birthdays? Accomplishing a goal?  If you’re prone to any kind of depression, having a list of what you’re looking forward to is amazingly helpful.

How to make smart goals. Specific, Measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound

Goal Setting

And now, with all these big ideas floating around, we’re finally going to set our goals for the next year.  If you’re a Millennial, you’ve definitely heard about SMART goals.  So, feel free to skip down a section or two. 

If you haven’t heard of SMART goals, or if you need a refresher.  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely (or Timebound). With regards to goal setting this means that you write your goals in such a way that they answer all these points.

As you write your goals, stop and think about if your goal is going to answer each of these points. Your goal needs to be specific, not general.  And this pairs with the second point that your goal also needs to be measurable. Someone said something along the lines of you need to be able to measure something to be able to improve.  The second pair of requirements are that your goal is both actionable and realistic.  These two points mean that your goal is written in such a way that there is something that you can actually do.  It needs to involve a thing or things that you can do to carry out your goal, and those things need to be realistic for you.  The final point is Timely or Timebound, and this means that your goal needs to have a deadline. 

If you want an example, or if you want to check if your goal is SMART enough, go ahead and drop it in the comment section below, and I’ll give you my opinion, as well as any corrections.

a goal is a project

Here are the next few steps.  First, a hint, every goal, is actually a project.  When we think about a goal, we think about the end. We think about what we want to carry out and how it will look and feel once it’s all done.  In reality though, your goal is a project that you want to do.  When you realize that you are doing a project, suddenly you realize that there are steps that you have to do to accomplish your goal, rather than just assuming that you will get from where you are to the end goal, without doing all the stuff in the middle. 

a project only gets done if you put it on your calendar

With this in mind, for each of your goals, create a timeline.  It doesn’t have to be super detailed, (it’s best if it isn’t too detailed at this point) just start at the end.  When do you want to be done with this project (your goal)? From that end date, work backwards. What are the biggest steps, or milestones along the journey to accomplishing this goal? Assign the 3 – 4 biggest milestones a realistic deadline. You work backward from the end goal to today. Or to whenever you want to start.  On your timeline, put the major milestone that make sense to you on that timeline, and attached to a time. Next, at the beginning of each timeline, write what the first 1-3 steps are that you need to do. 

Rinse and repeat for each of your goals, (which are actually projects). Once you have a rough, high level timeline for each project, create a Master Timeline of your whole year, with all the major milestones for each project on it. The value of creating a master timeline is that it will show you an overview of your whole year. You will quickly see what times of year you will be very busy, and when you might have time to rest, or take a vacation.  Make sure you put all your other major life commitments on this master timeline / calendar. Don’t get bogged down in minutia here, just the big, high-level stuff. You also don’t need to assign anything other than the end of a quarter or month as a deadline. You will make finer adjustments later when you plan your quarters, months and weeks.

Now that you have an idea what your year is going to look like, narrow your vision down to the upcoming quarter and month.  Start with the upcoming quarter. Based on your master timeline, what do you need to accomplish in the next 3 months? Assign each milestone to a month. For each milestone, what steps can you break it into? Assign each of those steps to a month within the quarter.

As you do this there are a couple of useful questions that you should also ask yourself.

The first question is, what do I need to learn in order to accomplish either the entire goal, or the next step. For example, if you need to learn how to code, or set up a website, or run a fancy camera, whatever it is that you need to learn to move onto the next set of steps. Make note of that and have a plan in place to learn those things.

The second question you need to ask yourself is, what is likely to get in your way?  This can be anything that is likely to obstruct you.  They can be external or internal road blocks, that we want to plan how we are going to work around them, yes, some obstacles are easier to predict than others. 

If you have small children or a busy full time job, you know that your energy is going to be zapped, or other people are going to make serious demands on your time.  You may know that you are easily distracted by social media, and therefore, plan to put your phone in another room, while you work on your project.  You know you best. And if you did the year end review, you also know what kind of things tripped you up last year.  Based on that knowledge, plan ahead for how you will handle or overcome the most likely things that will get in your way. 

Finally, for each of your goals/projects come up with some celebrations and rewards that motivate you and will grant yourself for completing the various steps toward the goal.  Ideally, carrying out the goal is sufficient reward for the whole project.  However, you may need or want some celebrations or rewards for working towards your goals. 

Routines for Goal Setting

The last part of this process is to set in place some of your basic routines.  I suggest having a basic routine for the things that you have to do over and over, to simply maintain life.  These are things like exercise, eating and cleaning.  These are basic life maintenance routines.  The value of treating these things like routines, is that you can start to do them… routinely, by rote, without having to waste excess time and energy figuring them out.  Feel free to write out routines, for anything that you know that you need to do over and over to simply sustain your life and household. 

Goal setting Road to Success

For my cleaning routine, I wrote out the things that I need to do weekly, monthly and annually.  For the annual things, I assigned them to a season or quarter. There are certainly a lot of annual cleaning things that are seasonal.  For example, at least where I live, I only need to mow the lawn in the late spring, summer and fall.  Raking leaves only needs to happen in the fall, so it makes sense to assign these tasks to the time of year that I know they will happen. Once I had my list of routine cleaning tasks, and the interval that they need to be completed, I put them on my calendar.  I use an electronic calendar, so it’s very easy to set up these things, move them if I need to and set them to repeat at the appropriate interval.

Food and eating are other things that you can create a routine for so that it is as automated as you need it to be.  A lot of people use the meal kit services to do this.  Whatever your meal routine looks like, you can put all of that on your calendar, so you don’t forget, and you aren’t scrambling at the last minute to figure things out. 

I have things like, plan menu, print recipes, make grocery list, get groceries on my weekly food routine.  Then each week I add specific things for that week, like pull salmon out of freezer on Thursday night.  I also set a reminder on my phone for when I need to start making dinner each day.  That way I start on time and get to eat before my evening activities.  Whatever works for you and your household I’m just saying take this idea and run with it.

Once you have all this laid out, you will be ready to move on to the next part of planning which is quarterly and monthly planning.  We’ll walk through that in the next post.  In the meantime, keep dreaming of how great your life will be as you actually accomplish all your goals.

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