(Note: this post is actually one of the new pages on my site, My Goal Projects. I thought you might miss it, so I wanted to go ahead and repost it on the regular blog as well. Enjoy this recap of how I’ve learned to set goals through the years.)
Over the years, I’ve gone through several goal setting projects on this blog. This page recaps them, and takes a look at how my goal-setting process has changed over the years. If you’re curious about the projects I’ve done on the blog over the years, this page is a great resource for you.
2009 – NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS AND SHOPPING BAN
Back in 2009, I made a New Year’s resolution to spend less and focus on buying things that I really love. However, I quickly found that my attempts at a broad budget goal weren’t working. I learned some lessons along the way, but I wasn’t making much progress. Midway through the year, I had to set new guidelines for myself to control my spending and spent some time trying to reflect on what went wrong. That summer, I was still having trouble managing my spending. Eventually I had to admit that my overarching goal of “getting on a budget” that year wasn’t working – by August, the only month I had stayed on task was January - so I began a Shopping Ban where I used an allowance and severely restricted my spending, mostly on clothes. I found the added structure of the Shopping Ban beneficial, and it helped me stay on track.
2010 – THE GREAT SHOPPING PLAN OF 2010
After learning from my Shopping Ban, I decided to create a Shopping Plan for 2010- a planned method of how I would spend money on clothes as I was moving into a full-time job. I created a Wardrobe Gaps list to help me focus my shopping on what I really needed. I tracked my Shopping Plan purchases every week with blog posts. All this structure helped me to focus on my goals, and it was fun to document what I was doing. Goals were no longer drudgery – they were an interesting project to pursue.
After benefiting from the structure of my previous projects, I decided to create a goal project in 2011: a set of 11 goals that I would work on throughout the year. I tracked my 11 in 2011 project with blog posts all year. This structure seemed pretty good, yet by the end of the year, I had only completed four of the goals and made progress on five of them. I was beginning to realize that big, broad goals for the whole year might not be the best way to go. However, I found that my Summer 11 in 2011 project was pretty successful – I made more progress on these short term goals than I did on my long term ones.
January of 2012 brought categories to my yearly goal project, which helped me to organize what I wanted to achieve. Once again, I began to realize that a year-long time frame was overwhelming, so in the summer, I created a Summer 12 project with more specific goals – this worked fabulously for me, and I managed to accomplish almost all my summer goals.
At this point, I finally got a clue and realized that I needed specific goals in specific time frames if I wanted to be successful.
I created my Fall 12 project, and I made great progress.
2013 was the year I finally started getting the hang of setting goals. I created a new goal project each season: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. I was making much more progress – I completed 5 out of 13 in Winter (I did have to plan a wedding then too), 8 out of 13 in Spring, 8 out of 13 in Summer, and 11 out of 13 in the Fall! At last, I found a goal process that worked for me.
From my post, The Winter 14:
“For the past several years, I’ve changed the way I look at setting goals. I used to have one big resolution; an over-arching, yearlong goal that I would try to achieve. And every year, I would either fail (too big of a goal, too unattainable), or complete my goal too early (too easy, too simple). I’ve since learned that the best way to become the best version of myself is by focusing on several SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-limited) each season. This gives me a shorter time span, and often these goals have a specific task or amount of time to complete them. So rather than having a goal like: “Be less stressed out” I have goals like: “Download and try out a meditation app” and “Go to yoga class five times”. These little goals add up to the larger idea I had in mind, and pursuing them means I might actually get to the place I want to go.”