How to Set Goals for the New Year

Are you a New Years resolutions type person? I don't call them resolutions, but I always set goals for a January 1st start date. But I don't always use the same strategy. I like to switch up how many goals I plan and their level of difficulty, and I enjoy using some sort of planner for this. In 2021, I've been using the PowerSheets, which you've seen each month. I'm going to stick with that planner for 2022, but I got a ton of insight from the MakseLife system of goal setting. They have a bunch of free printables on their website to help learn the system, and basically test it out before buying the full planner.

So don't worry, I'm not sharing any proprietary information - this system and the corresponding worksheets are all available online for free! The planner itself is just a physical place to do the work and then check in every day, week, and month and be able to write everything down. If you want to try your hand at the system, the free printables are all available here.

Compass Assessment and 8 Goal Categories

The process begins with an assessment quiz. To see where you currently stand in the 8 main areas of life using a numbers system. The categories are: Personal, Fun and Recreation, Work and Learning, Family and Relationships, Health and Wellness, Spiritual and Personal Growth, Financial, and Physical Environment. There's no right or wrong numbers to put down, because no one will see these scores except you. It's just a page to be honest about and score yourself on how you feel. There's 8 statements under each category to score yourself on. By getting a final number in each area, you increase your awareness about your thoughts and emotions and get clarity on the opportunities for personal development. (I would say that the PowerSheets has way more in terms of prep work pages, so if you've never goal set before and have no idea what you want your next year to look like, that would be the system for you. But if you already know how to set goals and know which areas you want to focus on, the MakseLife is a better fit.)

These 8 areas are all equally important. We don't have the bandwidth to go full steam in all 8 at all times - there are seasons of life when some are just more important than others. But the point of the system is not to completely ignore any one category, even if you score well, because that's how scores start slipping. We forget to keep progressing or even just maintain all the good work we've done.

Three Types of Goals

After you get your scores, it's time to goal set. This system stresses the importance of setting different types of goals, rather than just the life-altering huge goals that people tend to set as resolutions. But powerful change can happen through those smaller, day to day goals too, so it's important to have balance between the three types of goals:
  • Stretch Goals. Those exciting, huge goals that feel thrilling when you set them. They're usually those life-changing goals that are outside of your current comfort zone, like losing 100 pounds or changing career fields. Because of the level of commitment and difficulty, you should set no more than 3 stretch goals in a year.
  • Progress Goals. This is where you'll spend most of your time and energy to create real change in your life that leads you from where you are on your compass assessment to where to want to be. This is how you address the things that need improvement. Maybe your stretch goal is losing 100 pounds, but your progress goal would be increasing your daily steps from 2,000 to 5,000+.
  • Maintenance Goals. Maintenance goals are often overlooked, especially in the areas of life that are going well. But if you stop paying attention, they'll stop going well. So this type of goal will maintain what's good and working well in your life, even the things we do on autopilot like paying bills monthly and taking vitamins. The quality of life would be affected negatively if you didn't keep dong these things.

Setting Goals

Given the broad categories, I think one of the most useful printables is the Things to Consider in Each Area page. There's about 20 things in each area to consider, which was really helpful when I was planning what to do in 2022. Particularly in the areas I never used to think about, like spiritual and personal growth. 

I started with my stretch goals, since I already had those in mind for the year. I think we all go into a new year with that mindset - stretch goals are the only things we're considering. I wrote down my stretch goals in each area and then picked no more than my top 3. Anything more than that and I knew I would be spread too thin and burn out quickly. More on my goals next week, but remember that what may be a stretch goal for me is only a progress or maintenance goal for you, and vice versa. We're all different and skilled in different areas!

After that, I listed out goal ideas in the other areas, focusing on maintenance goals for the areas in which I scored high on the compass assessment (because clearly something is working there!) and progress goals for the areas that could use improvement. I really had to consider what improvement even looked like for me, which is why I made a vision board. To be able to envision what success looked like in all of these categories by the end of 2022.

Before I narrowed down my goals to my top 8, I considered what they had in common and if there were a word or couple of words that would apply to my year. That would help me narrow down my goal options because if I can keep a single word in mind throughout the year, it really helps when I'm facing decisions in the moment. I can ask myself "will what I'm about to do help or hurt my year's theme?" and that seems to help me make better choices. You'll see next week exactly what my goals look like, but a pattern started to emerge pretty quickly that everything fell under just a few words - happiness, commitment, balance, serenity. 

And that's it - I just kept refining until I felt like the list was complete and really reflected what I wanted for my year ahead.

What sort of system do you use for setting goals? Have you tried the MakseLife before? Next week, I'll share my own top 8 goals that I set using this system, so stay tuned!

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