Realistic goal setting for the new year

Realistic goal setting for the new year


The end of the year is meant for reflection and relaxation – but the new year is another story! January is when most people set intentions for the year and recalibrate their focus. Goal-setting and planning for the future are crucial, but organizing your thoughts in a palatable way is how to make your dreams doable. You can avoid overload or discouragement by creating a realistic outline; here are some tips for starting on an even keel in 2023. 

Congratulate yourself

When setting new goals, it’s natural to want to power into the future - but we can fail to acknowledge what we’ve already achieved. You may feel like you didn’t “get anything done all year” – but that is far from the truth! Spend time looking back at old goal lists and check off your accomplishments. Not only will this serve as motivation to build new foundations, but it’s an opportunity to audit your plan and remove goals that no longer serve you. Congratulate yourself for all your hard work in 2022 before moving on to the next thing.

Create an outline

An impactful tenant for setting goals is making them realistic. As the year kicks off, we often have fanciful and lofty plans that may quickly crumble and cause frustration. By making a general outline of everything you want to accomplish (month-to-month is a great starting point) you won’t bite off more than you can chew. Visually, when you see one or two larger goals per month on the calendar - it increases organization and sets you up to fine-tune your schedule.

Break it down

Once you have a general idea of what you’d like to accomplish each month, break it down into smaller pieces. For example if you want to ‘study more’ - set a weekly goal to go to the library at least once a week - or be even more specific by designating a certain time period. Actionable, small steps make you more aware of when you are doing something and give you an item to check off; a feeling of accomplishment can increase your motivation to continue.


Another reason why people may find their goals stalled by mid-year is because they took on too much from the onset. Though it’s admirable to strive for increased fitness, financial stability, educational pursuits and social fulfillment: juggling these things is unrealistic. Some endeavors take priority over others. Let yourself off the hook by determining what is most important to you, then focusing on that area. If your goal is to write your dissertation – then roadtrips, going to the gym several times a day, and starting a new hobby might have to take the backburner.

Take a moment

Nothing makes goal-setting more daunting and unrealistic than not giving yourself time to process changes and recoup your energy. If you have a demanding schedule, it may feel like you can’t afford to take a break and enjoy the fruits of your labor, but if you don't, your morale may dip. Whether it’s scheduling a day off, practicing self-care, or sharing your accomplishments with a friend – it’s crucial to acknowledge your progress, and rest before tackling the next thing on your list.


Marjani Hawkins