Setting Goals

[This is part of the Starting 2011 Off Right series for the rest of the series click here]

So, you want to set goals instead of reso­lu­tions. You have taken time to look back on the year and think about where you succeeded and where you failed. Good job! Now is the time to set some goals.

Blank Goal Whiteboard

Is this your goal list?

You should know going in that you will fail at some of these goals. Even the best goal setter accom­plishes only about 80% of the goals she sets out at the beginning of the year. Prior­i­ties change, life happens, etc. However, if you refuse to set goals, the 80% will never happen.

Also, setting goals is a pain. It will take a toll on your emotions and force you to think through things you normally assume will work out on their own. But it is always worth it.

As a helpful tool you should check out Chris Gullebeau’s book, “The Art of Non-Conformity”. It will get you in the right mindset for goal setting and remind you that life change is possible. If you would rather not pay for a book, check out Chris’ website His website was the first place I heard about Conducting An Annual Review. Chris’ blog inspired me to Start 2011 Off Right. I even used his Annual Review Template to create this year’s goals.

The 7 Goal Categories

There are 7 major goal cate­gories you need to focus on:

  1. Spiritual
  2. Family
  3. Personal Growth
  4. Business
  5. Financial (broken into Income, Savings, and Giving)
  6. Social
  7. Health

You need some idea of where you are going in each of these seven cate­gories. Start by taking each category, one at a time, and thinking through what you would like to accom­plish in it. Do you want to learn how to cook? How about read the Bible in a year? Are you aching to start a small business? What about getting out of debt? Remember, goals must be specific, measur­able, your own goals, have a time limit, and be written down. If you are missing any of these qual­i­fi­ca­tions, you do not have a goal.

My 2011 Goals

Some of my 2011 goals are:

  • Spiritual: memorize 12 passages of scripture.
  • Family: take 1 non-business non-honeymoon vacation with my wife.
  • Personal Growth: read 36 books (12 theology, 12 business, 12 misc).
  • Social: hang out for lunch or dinner with a good friend twice a month.
  • Financial: save $2,000 in retirement.
  • Health: walk 4–5 times a week.
  • Business: update 72 times.

You will notice that none of these goals can be done instantly. At this stage you want to stay broad. You should not work out every detail; instead create specific bench­marks that let you know you succeeded.

You need goals in all 7 areas. I work for a minimum of three goals in each area. Anything less and I feel like I am not pushing myself enough. You may want more or less and that is totally up to you. Be honest with yourself; fifteen goals in each area is unre­al­istic and one goal per area is not going to challenge you.

Your turn

Are you ready to take the plunge and set 2011 goals? Decide today when you are going to have your 2011 goals written down and ready to accom­plish. For me, that date was November 15th (which I barely accomplished).

There are two main ways I recommend you do this:

  1. Set aside an hour or two, every day for seven days, to set goals in one area per day.
  2. Or (foolishly like me) have a massive goal setting marathon where you hammer out your 2011 goals in all seven areas in one four hour sitting.

I do not recommend the second plan unless you are seriously short on time or you just like being emotion­ally exhausted.

Now that your goals are written down, there is only one thing left to do: create a theme for your year. For me, 2011 is The Year of Massive Change. On December 31st, my life will not be what it was on January 1st in any of the seven areas. What is your theme? Keep it broad and have fun with it. The Year of Massive Change is fun to say and to write! That is part of the reason I chose it. Pick a theme that repre­sents both who you are and what you will accom­plish. And do it last. Do not pick your theme until you know what your goals are, otherwise you will choose goals that fit the theme instead of goals that fit you.

What is your 2011 Goal Setting Deadline? Let me know in the comments.

12 Responses to “Setting Goals”

  1. Brandon January 18, 2011 at 10:06 AM #

    Wow! This is a really great post! I love how your blogs are in an easy-to-follow outlined format.

    Updating your website 72 times! That’s pretty cool… I did 34 (I think around there…) last year, but this year I want to get over 50.

    • Alex January 18, 2011 at 5:33 PM #

      Nice! For me it is all about update schedule. My hope is to post twice a week every week with a few guest posts mixed in. This brought me to 72 which is about a post and a half a week.

      50 is a really good goal! one a week with a few weeks to relax. Great stuff Brandon!

      My hope is that these blogs help you as you move forward through High School and into college!

      • Brandon January 19, 2011 at 2:04 PM #

        Sure has! All the blogs I read (espe­cially yours) has really helped me mature. Also, taking what I have learned and telling it through my blog really helps me as well!

  2. Mike Luna January 18, 2011 at 9:30 PM #

    Broke, but Not Broken

    That is my theme for 2011, although I thought of it a few weeks ago before I might have called it a theme. It orig­i­nally came about because I was thinking about what I’d call 2011 if I were to write an autobiography.

    But, as goals go, it’s fitting, I think. The fact is, I don’t have a job and I don’t have any money, but I hope that when I look back in 2012 I can see that I didn’t let that set the direction and control the course of my year. (As it did in 2010.)

    • Alex January 18, 2011 at 9:49 PM #

      That is a fantastic theme. I like the descrip­tive­ness of it a lot. I am excited to see what happens with your blog and with your life. You are one of the most talented people I have ever met.


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