How to Set Yearly Goals

White and Pink Flowers in Glass Vase with White Ceramic Teacup and Journal | Photo by Sixteen Miles Out via Unsplash


I shared the following to my Instagram Stories a couple of weeks ago:

"Permission to not have all your goals for the year set at the start of January. Goal setting should include solid reflection and visioning - and the space for that to happen is rarely in the midst of a crazy holiday season." - Emily Siegel 

A lot of people reached out to me about this post and expressed agreement with what Emily said. Others told me they were reluctant to set goals because of a deep fear of failing to achieve them.

I shared Emily's words because she hit upon one of the reasons why I don't start the new year with a firm list of goals in hand. Despite my strong Type A tendencies... I always leave time to reflect on the previous year before thinking about how to approach the new one.

I realized I needed to add a blog post to my content calendar. Rather than start with my reflections of last year (like this and this) before leading into a post in which I share my focus word for 2022... I'm going to start by sharing my process for setting my yearly goals.

How to Set Yearly Goals

Review and Reflect

The first step in my goal-setting process always involves looking back at the year. I celebrate my successes and take time to think about where I came up short.

Before I can chart where I'd like to go moving forward, I have to appreciate the journey I've already made. During my reflection process, I try to ask myself the following:
  • What changed in my life?
  • How did I change this year?
  • What were my biggest wins?
  • What were my biggest challenges?
  • What did the progress toward my goals look like?
    • What were my results?
    • How far did I actually get in terms of meeting my goals?
  • What needs to change in the new year?
  • What am I ready to leave behind?

This process can be daunting... especially when I have to identify the areas that still need work. But it can also be quite rewarding when I realize where I knocked it out of the park. 

It also helps me to write my reflections down when answering these questions. Something about the act of writing with a pen and paper has always been grounding for me, so I always make sure to have those tools at my disposal during this part of the process.

Choose a Focus Word

After I finish writing down my answers to the above questions, I reread them to see if I can identify a common theme. It's usually pretty obvious where I need to focus my energies... so it doesn't take too long for me to identify potential focus words for the coming year. 

(It's amazing what can present itself when it's written down in front of you.)

If you're new to this approach, then check out this list of focus words for inspiration.

Build a Framework

Once I've selected my focus word for the new year, I build a framework to support it. Which areas of my life need attention?

Here are the life categories I consider when setting my yearly goals:
  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Career/Business
  • Home/Environment
  • Spiritual/Personal Development
  • Health
  • Fun/Recreation
  • Service/Volunteer Work

More often than not, my goals fall under these life categories:
  • Relationships
  • Finances
  • Home/Environment
  • Spiritual/Personal Development
  • Health
  • Fun/Recreation

Set Goals

Now comes the fun part -- it's time to finally set some goals!

Before I dig in, I want to point out that I choose to set goals rather than make resolutions. Goals are action-oriented, which makes it easier to create a plan to achieve them.

Whenever possible, I set goals that are measurable so I can track my progress throughout the year. For example, I want to continue making time to read in 2022. Rather than set a goal to "read more," I set a goal to "read 10 books". 

The more specific the goals, the better!

One more tip when it comes to setting yearly goals. Be realistic. Goals should not only be challenging but also attainable within the span of a year.

Though, if I'm being honest... there are times when the timeline for achieving my goals stretches over a couple of years. In those cases, I set benchmarks to help measure my progress.

For example, one of my larger financial goals has been to pay off all my student loans. Since I have a lot of loans, I've broken this goal down based on what was attainable in the given year -- i.e., pay off one student loan.

I'm happy to say that 2022 is the year I'll finally achieve that larger goal!

Keep Goals Visible

I've found that I'm most successful in achieving my goals when I have ready access to them. In the final days of the year, I make time to create my bullet journal spreads for the new year. And I always list my goals at the front of my journal.

For the measurable goals, I create spreads to help me track my progress... and when I'm struggling to stay the course, I flip through my journal to remind myself how far I've come so far.

Another way I've started keeping my goals visible is by creating a vision board. I made this one early last year and hung it on the wall behind my nightstand. This way I could see my vision board when I woke up in the morning and before I went to bed at night.

Such a great motivator.

Now that I've set my goals for 2022 I can start thinking about creating my vision board for the year!

Closing Thoughts

I know we're already about halfway through January, but it is not too late to set your goals for the year. There's no strict rule that states you can only start working toward your goals on January 1st.

Previous Themes/Additional Reading


I wish I could remember what my focus word was for 2017! But we had a toddler underfoot and another baby on the way, so I'm not surprised I didn't write anything down that year. 😂

Did you like this post? Stay tuned for my "Looking Back on 2021" post and my post in which I'll reveal my Focus Word for 2022!

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One year agoLooking Back on 2020
Four years agoWeeknight Beef Stroganoff
Six years agoFind Purpose in 2016
Eight years agoMolinari's - Bethlehem, PA
Thirteen years agoMocha Peanut Butter Brownies

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