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How I Set Goals For A New Year & Our Special Tradition

personal Jan 08, 2021

I love the fresh start of a new year! There are so many possibilities and options ahead that it makes me giddy. Anyone else?! There are a variety of methods, plans, and tools that are used to do goal setting and ways folks like to prepare for a new year. 

I’ve heard of choosing a word for the year, making resolutions, setting goals for different areas of life, using special planners, doing “sprints” then taking a week off, etc. Some people like to plan for a new year at the end of the current year and others at the beginning of the year.

There are a lot of options! So, I thought I’d simply share what we do, what I’ve learned on how to stick to new routines/habits, and the special tradition Jeff and I do within the first few days of a new year and have done for the past 6 years. 


How we do goal setting for a new year:

I like the idea of planning for a new year at the end of the current year, but realistically, the end of a year is typically a pretty busy time for us with Christmas. We’re usually traveling to see family and don’t arrive back home until either December 30th or January 1st, so spending some intentional time planning for the upcoming year at that time just doesn’t work for us. Instead, we do goal setting within the first week of the new year.

I’m going to be honest, I’m the one who is always excited to do our goal setting and Jeff could (mostly) care less haha. What we do is each set goals for these different areas of life: career, financial, intellectual, spiritual, physical, family, and travel. We each write our own down on a piece of paper and share it with the other. We also make sure our goals are specific and realistic.


What I’ve learned on how to stick to new routines/habits:

In addition to setting goals for those areas of life, we also talk through new habits or routines we want to implement. For example, one that I’m trying to do is create a new habit of doing a quiet time every morning where I go through a devotional or Bible reading and drink a glass of lemon water.

Implementing new habits or routines is so tough! Most often, people simply don’t stick to them. I’ve even read where it can take an average of 66 days to form a new habit. I read this book called The Power of Habit that helped me view it differently though.

If I want to create a new habit, I’ve started to create triggers for myself. Like with the morning devo and lemon water, before I go to bed in the evening, I put my devo book on the table by the chair where I like to read and my water bottle already filled up on my nightstand. This way, right when I wake up I grab my water bottle (which acts as my trigger) and go to sit in the chair with my devo book right there ready for me. Otherwise, I know I would forget or get distracted.


The special tradition Jeff and I do:

We keep a mason jar in the kitchen and throughout the year we document things that happen (good and bad) and place it in the mason jar. Sometimes that’s writing things down on pieces of paper, and others, it’s putting ticket stubs or various items that will help us remember moments throughout the year in the jar.

Within the first few days of a new year (typically on New Year’s Day), Jeff and I go out to dinner and go through all the memories in the jar. When we’ve gone through it all, we place the items in a ziplock bag, write the year on the bag with a sharpie, and place it in a box so we can look back on all the memories at any time.

It’s a lot of fun to go through the memory jar each year and recall all the things that have happened.

How do you prefer to do goal setting?



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