Setting New Year’s Goals

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Each year around New Year’s I write down my goals for the year. Not resolutions, goals. The term “resolution” means failure to me. I can’t help it. Growing up, I nearly always set a weight loss resolution and kind of knew in the back of my mind that I wasn’t really going to keep it.

Early in my career, I switched to setting goals. Goals are just more concrete. You hold yourself to them. Especially if you write them down. This is the critical element. You must put pen to paper to achieve success (see my notes on the famous Yale Study about this at the end of this post.) When I started setting specific goals and writing them down about fifteen years ago, my goals were mostly career oriented. And I discovered that when I wrote them down, I met them! Seriously. In fact, I often exceeded them. Especially salary goals. If I set a salary I hoped to achieve in 1, 2 or 5 years, I earned it earlier than my goal.

Setting Mommy Goals
Since most Mommies have children after their careers, why not use techniques that helped in your career for motherhood? As a mother, I’ve found it critical to make specific goals, especially for myself, if I don’t want to be totally consumed by my family and household’s ever demanding needs. When it comes to goal setting, the more specific the goal, the more likely I’m successful. And while there’s a balance to what’s possible and unachievable, I always keep in mind that in most instances, “Some is Better than None!”

Here are some sample areas and goals to consider for your Mommy Goals:

Personal time and space
How much time do you need for yourself each day? Each week?

Example: I will take fifteen minutes of peaceful solace each day.
This may mean that after your husband comes home, you sit in the bathroom with a magazine or staring into space to get a little quite, alone time. But you find a way to take time for yourself each day. Otherwise, it probably won’t happen.

How often do you want to exercise? If you hope for five times a week but three times is achievable, make it happen.

Hobby, study, vocation
Do you want to maintain a hobby or learn a new craft?
Example: I will take a pottery/math/writing class this Spring.

How can you maintain your health while balancing a child’s schedule and foods?

My goal one year was to add one additional piece of fruit each day. I had read that the additional fiber would aid weight loss over time. It was pretty easy to focus on choosing an apple over crackers in the afternoon when I had this goal in the back of my mind.

Do you want to focus on certain aspects of your behavior? Taming a temper? Being silly with your kids? Affectionate with your husband?

Spousal relationships can take a quick backseat when children come along. What time/activities do you want to protect and encourage with your husband?

Some people have a regular Saturday babysitter. If this is too much, how about a goal of one night out per month with your hubby? It will focus you to get a babysitter for at least one night each month and you’ll truly look forward to it.

Do you want to commit to green living with your children? Sample goals include packing lunches and snacks in reusable containers versus plastic bags, putting fluorescent lights in the playroom, and keeping the lights off and the heat down in rooms you’re not in.

This is just a sampling of goal areas, but hopefully it can help center you in some areas for the New Year. Good luck!

Goal Setting Sources
(Two sources inspired me to write down my goals. The first was a Yale Study my brother told me about when he was in business school. According to the study, in 1953, researchers surveyed Yale’s graduating seniors to determine how many of them had specific, written goals for their future. The answer: 3%. Twenty years later, researchers polled the surviving members of the Class of 1953 — and found that the 3% who had written down their goals had accumulated more personal financial wealth than the other 97% of the class combined. When looking for a source link to reference in this post, I discovered that Fast Company magazine debunked this legendary story and it isn’t true. Oh, well. It works anyway.

The second source was a great book by Martha Beck called Finding Your Own North Star. She helps make your goal setting specific by prompting you to chunk up your goal into minute steps and put each on a Post It note. As she describes it, you put where you are now on a Post It on the left side of a wall. You put your goal on the other side of the wall and every tiny step on Post Its in between. It’s a great way to focus your efforts to reach a goal.)

One Comment

  1. These are great recommendations!

    I myself am a big fan of making resolutions, small or big, throughout the year, not just once a year and being slightly champagne fueled.

    So much so that myself and two friends created Pledgehammer on our free time. It provides an easy way to write resolutions down (as per Yale’s study), have a concrete deadline and share with whoever you want to share them with. All of this increases the chances of a resolution becoming a reality. It also has a charitable ‘flipside’ to it – if you can’t stick to your resolution Pledgehammer asks you to donate money to charity. So whether you keep your resolution or not, either way the world will be a little bit better.

    Would love to hear if this helps people keep their Mommy Goals.

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