Set goals by don't get carried away

I’m hopeful that my 2020 planning will be effective. And this is because of what I learned about goal setting and planning in 2019.

So I’ve used various workbooks and systems throughout the years. I’ve spent huge chunks of December setting goals for the year ahead. The idea of it all sounds so attractive because it’s think now and act later. There’s the promise of a step by step plan for the year. You’ll always know what you are doing next. Uncertainty will be vanquished.

The difficulty I always found was staying on track. Your detailed dream life somehow changes over the months, or you lack faith in your ability to achieve it. The goals you’ve assigned in advance for April seem irrelevant – and somehow trivial against the big plan you’re supposed to be achieving.

Back in December 2018…

But in December 2018 I decided that once again I’d give this planning and goal setting thing a crack. For inspiration, I returned to the Shining Year workbooks and planned to do a section every day.

Then I worked my way through with a notepad and a load of sticky notes at hand. The workbooks are huge and packed with things to inspire you. Hence I was awash with ideas and enthused by my daily sessions in December. And it was this inspiration that led me to decide that a monthly review was a good thing.

What I really wanted was to keep up the same level of inspiration and faith in myself. I believed the best way to do this was to return throughout the year to the thoughts that I’d recorded. So I came up with a complicated approach with daily, weekly, monthly and general goals. And I was going to review all of these on a daily, weekly and monthly basis…

When my 2018 planning met 2019 it didn’t go well

A bit random would describe my goals. They were a dodgy mix of very specific things and large projects that obviously needed breaking down. There weren’t that many and it would have made the most sense to pick one per month. Instead, I decided that I could simultaneously work on goals as diverse as reducing plastic use, join Borrow My Doggie and be inspired by Blue Zones.

Of course, the daily and weekly reviews fell by the wayside. I continued to do the monthly reviews. But I had planned to be making progress in so many things. It was all a bit hit and miss. If I made progress on 1 then there were 6 things I hadn’t been anywhere near. And I kept doing monthly brainstorms to add to my goals.

Oh dear! So in June, I had another look. I considered what it was I wanted from my goals and a better quality of life was the answer. It didn’t have to be complicated. I just wanted to develop some pleasing habits that didn’t involve me failing to use a habit tracker.

Achievable inspiration!

So I took the shining habits page for my original planning as my starting. I got some felt tips out and did a (not very well) illustrated page to pin above my desk. I also wrote them on the front page of my planner.

Now each month I give myself a score to see how well I’d done each month on things like naps, reading and choosing vegetables over crisps. I write a few sentences about my physical and mental health. I consider if there’s a habit I want to focus on in the next few weeks.

It’s easy and feels good. I’ve really developed my journal writing approach. I’m eating better snacks. And if I feel that I’ve got a habit all bedded in then I can add a new one on for this year.

So, people, the lesson is to let big plans inspire you. Then take time to look at what you want and what there’s space in your life for. Don’t create a plan to feel you’ve failed!