I’ve never been successful with New Year’s Resolutions. The only times I ever tried making them, I abandoned them quickly. It only took a couple such failed attempts before I decided the process wasn’t for me. When I’d hear of people setting goals and resolutions at the first of the year, I paid little attention.
But in the past few years I’ve followed certain podcasts and social media accounts that focus on things like habit formation, productivity, and yes…goal setting. As with most things, I was slow-to-warm-up but over time became intrigued. I wanted to be the type of person who set goals and accomplished them, but I was afraid my track record made trying a waste of energy.
Then, late last fall, the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin introduced a unique idea: 18 for 2018. The hosts encouraged one another to create a list of 18 things they wanted to accomplish in 2018. There were no rules. Goals could be as specific or as vague as one chose. They could include one-time items as well as long-term goals. Tasks could be ambitious and risky or small and safe. Listeners began creating and posting their own lists, and seeing others’ ideas sparked my own. I decided to jump in and give it a go.
Creating My List
I took a few weeks to create my list, and on January 1 I wrote it out in the front of my planner. I included specific, one-time items (Have Family Pictures Made, See a Stage Production) as well as long-term, measurable goals (Walk 260 Miles, Read One Book Per Month). There were also a few less-specific aims (Improve My Prayer Life) and things that were virtually fool-proof (Go To Denmark was on the list, and we already had a trip planned. Also, Potty-Train Abby, which I needed to do regardless, since it was a requirement for her to move up to the 3-year-old class at preschool.) Some of the goals I included to help facilitate the others. (The reading goal was in a chicken-or-egg type relationship to Utilize the Library More.)
For the longer-term items I created goal trackers on the grid pages at the back of my planner, portioning out boxes to color in as I completed small increments of the goal. I also began my list of books on these pages. I knew tracking was going to be crucial to my success for those things I couldn’t just complete and check-off.
Taking it Step by Step
I started off fairly strong, scheduling our family photos in January. In May, Abby forced my hand on Convert Abby’s Crib to a Bed, by climbing out several times and almost giving me a heart attack. That same month I was able to check off Be More Thankful For My Car, when the clunker I had been struggling to appreciate gave up the ghost and Dave negotiated a great deal on a new Ford Escape (aka the Mamamobile.)
Mid -June, around the half-way point of the year, I reviewed the list, noted which goals were complete, which were in progress, and which needed to be revised. Abby was on her way to being potty trained, and our trip to Denmark was booked and fast approaching. I was already closing in on 12 books, so I upped that number to 24 for the year. I also completely dropped one big goal, Complete a Rough Draft for a Novel, and replaced it with Launch The Indecisive Mama Blog. (I have zero regrets about this change. As you can see, because you are reading this, I successfully completed the new goal. And I still have the outline for the novel, just no motivation to write it at this point. Maybe one day.)
Now 2018 is winding down, and it’s time for a hard look at my list and a tough evaluation of what worked and what didn’t.
How Did I Do REALLY?
Of the three incremental, long-term goals (the ones I was tracking in my little planner boxes) only one (the reading goal) is on-track to be completed.
As far as walking 260 miles…according to my planner I only credited myself with 80 miles. There are several factors at play: I was only counting what I considered “walking for exercise.” So all the slow walks with Abby around the neighborhood where she stopped every three-feet to pick up leaves and acorns didn’t get tracked. Also, I struggled with exercise in general this year. It’s something I need to focus on more in 2019.
The third long-term item was a Personal Goal. As of today it’s 67% complete. (I won’t hit 100%, but I still have time to get that number a little higher before the 31st.)
The goal I’m happiest to have accomplished is Figure Out a Budget System. This one was in process for a couple years, but this year we settled on the EveryDollar program and app by Dave Ramsey, and since we started using it in September, our finances, communication, marriage, overall stress level…all have seen dramatic improvement. If I didn’t accomplish anything else this year, this one would have still been huge.
One of my goals I accomplished a bit serendipitously: after seeing several people talk about the book Cozy Minimalist Home by Myquillan Smith, which came out this fall, I was intrigued and purchased it. Only a few chapters in, and without even fully implementing the tips and strategies the book teaches, I checked off Determine My Home Style from the list. I’m a Cozy Minimalist! (Look out Salvation Army, here come my donations!)
One goal that I feel a little guilty checking-off as complete is Establish Phone-free Times and Zones. Technically, I have done this. My drives in the car with Abby are well established time when I try to be present, not on my phone or listening to podcasts. But I really wanted to implement other regular times when I’m detached from my phone. So while I’m giving myself credit for accomplishing the letter of this goal, I need to continue working on the spirit of it in 2019.
The Goals I Didn’t Reach
The remaining goals were:
- Decorate My Nightstand Area
- Print Photos to Display
- See a Stage Production
- Have a Girl’s Getaway with Denelle (my bestie and former roommate.)
As I look at this list, I see one common theme: all these goals required spending money, and they were all things I viewed as being solely for my own benefit. Therefore, on some level, I considered them frivolous or selfish. Having our budget better in hand will help with the financial aspect of these types of goals. But feeling that things I want to do are unimportant…well…maybe that’s something I need to shape into a goal for my 19 for 2019 list.
Will I Do it Again?
Well, I guess I let that cat out of the bag already. I DO plan to set a 19 for 2019 list. In fact, in the back of my planner I already have a list of ideas going.
This type of goal setting was actually pretty fun, and I think it taught me a lot about how I approach tasks I need and/or want to do. If it sounds overwhelming, don’t be scared! Some tips for beginning:
- Start with some one-time To Do items that you’ll have to get done, regardless of if they’re on a formal list or not.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate items on the list (I may need to do this for the photo goal. I still don’t have a wedding album. Or any prints of Abby’s baby photos. Or any of the family photos we had made in January. Clearly, this is not a strength area for me.)
- Think of fun goals, not only serious ones. Include your friends, spouse, kids, etc.
- Put something on the list that you can check-off right away. The feeling of accomplishment will give you momentum to continue past January 2nd.
- Share your list with someone. If you’re like me, outer accountability is crucial.
So what do you think? Will you set goals for 2019? Are you a New Year’s Resolution maker? Do you have any tricks or tips for accomplishing goals? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, and share this post with someone who’s thinking about goal-setting for 2019.