No Resolutions! Mapping Out Goals for the New Year + Printable Brainstorming Questions

Originally posted on December 27, 2012.


There are just a few more days before all the hoopla starts around “New Year’s Resolutions”!  I prefer to set GOALS, because I think a resolution doesn’t hold much weight (at least for me).  I’ve resolved to do lots of things in my life but ended up not following through or abandoning the resolution after just a few weeks (or days)!

For the past week or so, I’ve been brainstorming my goals for the upcoming year.  I don’t have them completely mapped out yet, but I’m getting closer!  This is the process I’ve been using:

1)  Define your mission.

Before you can set goals, you need to know why you are setting them.  I did a short series on writing a mission statement that I hope will be helpful.

2)  Evaluate your life.

How are things going so far?  What needs to change?  Where do you want to be at the end of next year?  Five years?  A lifetime? Pull out a notebook and start jotting down some ideas.  It may be impossible, but it would be excellent if you could take a few hours away to do this.  If you don’t have that option, try to get up early one morning or stay up late.  The main thing is to have a time where you can focus and really ponder where you’re at in life.

I’ve written down a collection of questions I thought might be helpful for you.  I’m using them to guide my brainstorming process!  The download has 32 questions in eight different areas (fitness, financial, personal, etc.).  You can download it as a one-sheet download or eight pages with room to answer the questions.  By no means is this list exhaustive, but it is a great starting point for looking at your life and brainstorming what your goals are for the next year. 

3)  Write down your goals.

Writing down a goal is powerful — especially if you’re prone to forgetfulness like me!  Writing it down not only keeps it on your mind, it also keeps you accountable (especially if you share it with others). 

Why do you think I share my goals with you?!!  It’s much more motivating if I know someone is going to ask me about them!  :)

One important thing to remember is to set SMART goals!  I’m sure you’ve seen the acronym:

**S – specific
**M – measurable
**A – attainable
**R – realistic
**T – time-based

For instance, don’t set a goal to “feed every hungry child in the world.”  It’s not attainable or realistic!  Instead, be more specific:  “I’m going to buy enough groceries to feed ten families in my community five meals each by the end of the month.”  This would be specific and measurable (you’re going to feed ten families).  It’s definitely attainable and much more realistic, plus you’ve added a time limit by giving yourself one month.

4)  Make an action plan.

Once your goals are established, you need to figure out how you are going to accomplish them.  In our sample goal above, I might write down three action steps to help me achieve this goal.

1.  Find out how much food it takes to feed ten families one meal at our local food pantry.  Then, multiply this by five.

2.  Have a garage sale or other fundraiser to raise money to buy the groceries on January 13, 2013.

3.  Use the money to buy the groceries by January 31, 2013.

Without a plan, you can’t get where you want to go — your goals will never be reached!  An action plan is an essential part of goal-setting!

Download a printable goal setting sheet here.




  1. Nancy says

    Thank you so much for this! Often, I am stymied about where to start with goal planning. These great questions will really help me focus. I’m hoping to grow this year, and appreciate your assistance!!

    • Stacie Nelson says

      Thanks, Nancy! I hope they will be helpful for you! I’m working through them myself and it’s giving me some new ideas and goals to work towards!

  2. says

    This is great. I was thinking about what foundational questions I needed to ask before setting goals. I am not a fan of the big resolutions idea either as it has a tendency to be well meaning but not well thought out. With digging deeper, goals have a greater chance of being met.
    Thank you for providing this.


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