Why I Don’t Reserve Goals for the End of the Year

posted by Andrea | 12/22/2014
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end of year goals

The New Year is only a few days away… and since I’ll be taking my regular blogging break from Christmas through New Year’s Day, I wanted to talk about something that I feel is super important this time of year (and all year long).

I know many of you will be setting some type of goal or resolution over the next 2 weeks — yes, I’ll be right there with you. I love setting goals, planning for the future, and thinking about what might happen over the next year. However, I don’t just reserve this activity for the end of December. 

I set goals all year long — in fact, depending on how you define “goals”, I set goals every single day.

For me, a goal is simply something I want (or need) to accomplish within a set period of time.

This could be as simple as making sure the kids nails are finally trimmed, working on a blog project, doing some freezer cooking, or stuffing and mailing our Christmas cards (watch for them on the blog later this week!)

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Now, if you’re anything like me, you could easily make a mile-long list of all the little things you need and want to do EVERY SINGLE DAY. And that list probably won’t even include all those bigger goals and ideas you have to improve your home, yourself, your family, your job, your finances, etc.

But don’t do that! 

The point of this post is not to make you feel completely overwhelmed by all those thing you need to do. Instead, I’d simply like to encourage you to be aware of the many goals you want to accomplish — but then pick a handful to really focus on during one specific period of time.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons we fail to complete our goals (no matter how big or small they are) is because we don’t focus enough attention on them for a long enough period of time. After all, it’s very easy to REALIZE that something needs to change… however, DOING anything to bring that change about is another story!

I’ve experienced my share of failed goals over the course of my life, and in (almost) every situation, it was because I didn’t devote enough focused time and energy to complete the goal. Sometimes, it was a conscious decision on my part as I didn’t feel that particular goal was important enough anymore. However, there have been times when it’s simply because I completely over-estimated the amount of time and energy I had to devote to one particular goal.

Can anyone relate?

calendar list

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I find that I function the best, and am the most productive, when I have anywhere from 3-8 smaller goals or tasks to think about and focus on at any given time. If I have less than that, I feel bored and underutilized. If I have more than that, I start feeling anxious and stressed.

For this reason, I’m a HUGE advocate of creating a Top 5 List every night before I go to bed. This gives me just the right amount of things to focus on throughout the day, and I have a sense of accomplishment when everything on my list is crossed off.

Here’s an example of what one of my daily goals list might look like:

  • Clean out the dishwasher
  • Make dinner (if it’s not coming out of the freezer and is anything that can be made ahead, I do it right away in the morning)
  • Sweep and vacuum the floors
  • Bake cookies or do a craft with Nora
  • Walk to the bank, post office, and swing by the grocery store for bananas
  • Give Simon a hair cut
  • Catch up on email and schedule social media posts

As you can see, this list is nothing too complicated and very “home-centric”. Even though Simon is a good napper, I’ve found that it is increasingly difficult to get much blogging or other work-related responsibilities crossed off during the day (because I just don’t have the ability to focus long enough). So instead, I focus on simpler household goals during the day, and save my blogging goals for later.

Since Nora is going to bed much earlier (usually sleeping by 8:00 every night!!) I now have plenty of time to accomplish my work-related tasks when Dave gets home from school, after the kids are in bed, and before they wake up in the morning.

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Yes, I still make bigger, more long-term goals each year (and sometimes half-way through the year) but I firmly believe that setting a few smaller goals for myself on a daily and weekly basis helps me to focus more on what’s important to me in that particularly moment… and it drastically improves my productivity!

Of course, your daily to-do lists might look VERY different than mine — the point is that you’re actually thinking about what needs to be done, how you’ll do it, when you’ll do it, etc. on a very regular basis (not just when you flip the calendar over to a new year).

Also, if you have a huge goal for the year, I’d suggest breaking it down into tiny pieces and give yourself a few small tasks each week. You might just be surprised how quickly you accomplish those huge goals!

What are your thoughts on goals? Do you set them daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly?

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10 comments

  1. Cara

    01/24/2015

    This is helpful and encouraging. I love looking reflecting on my past goals and planning ahead to accomplish new ones in the grand scheme “end-of-year” way, but those can quickly become daunting and discouraging if one doesn’t know how to manage bite size daily goals.

    Also, I wrote recently about how to budget my time and goals more effectively by using the kitchen timer. Check it out: http://www.thehomelearner.com/2015/01/16/why-saying-5-more-minutes-makes-me-cringe/

    Thanks for this post! I linked to it today in my “Inspiration for the Weekend.”

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Cara — for the kinds words and the link 🙂

    [Reply]

  2. Jennifer C

    12/27/2014

    My husband and I both work outside the home. But like your husband, I am a teacher. I tend to save big goals for the summer. Last summer I had a “Top 3” so I could really focus– refinancing our house, getting blinds for our windows, and getting life insurance. I actually got those time-consuming things done– yea! So I have a regular to-do list (like “buy my son batting gloves before baseball next week”), and I save those big items for the summer, and keep that big item list short. Maybe you can relate to that a bit?

    [Reply]

  3. Christine

    12/22/2014

    I assume you make your bed, so would that be included in a “routine” that does not include your “goals”. The reason I’m asking is because I am such a poor housekeeper and I have been trying to implement routines and one of them is making my bed, which I have not been in the habit of. Another one is a top 5 to do list for tomorrow, just like you mention. So I’m wondering if the top 5 should be things that are not normally on a routine. I know, this is something basic or probably a silly question for someone organized (which I am not). Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I guess it just depends Christine. For me, making my bed, picking up the house, etc. are just routine because I honestly can’t NOT do them. I can’t move on with my day until they are accomplished. However, if making your bed is something you absolutely hate doing, then I’d suggest making it a specific goal for your day. Something you can feel accomplished once you complete.

    [Reply]

    Christine Reply:

    Thank you for your help.

    [Reply]

    Christine Reply:

    Okay, I think I’m getting the hang of it. My routine would be making my bed, feeding my dog and reading my Bible first thing. I have not been good about making the bed and put off feeding the dog and reading my Bible until later. So that is my morning routine I guess. My top 5 for today are cleaning my closet floor, taking a walk, last minute Christmas things, paperwork and reading my Bible (which is different than my normal routine because I want to read through it in a year and need to catch up a little bit). I am so excited because I have just started this about a week and a half ago and it helps me so much. I am challenged in this area and I think it’s one reason I love your blog so much! Your house is so simple and I love your posts. Thank you. Merry Christmas!

    [Reply]

  4. AshleyT

    12/22/2014

    Thanks for this! I am a new stay at home wife (spoiled, I know!!) and find I often get distracted during the day as I’m surrounded by things to do, but often moss the things I was planning for that day. A top five list is a great (do-able!) suggestion.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes Ashley, a Top-5 list is an awesome (and very simple) way to focus every day!

    [Reply]

  5. Sherry

    12/22/2014

    I try to set goals each quarter in various areas of my life – work, home, family, social, self, etc. They don’t have to be elaborate. A family one for me is to have a sit-down dinner with all of us here once a week (my boys are grown and one no longer lives at home). Another could be to have a date night once a month with my husband. Every three months I review my goals and see if I have accomplished them or not. If not, I look at why I didn’t get it done and what I can do different. Sometimes it’s simply because I made the goal too big and I may need to break it down into smaller pieces or give myself more time to accomplish it.

    Great post Andrea!

    [Reply]