Three Strategies for Setting (and Achieving) Meaningful Goals This Year.
November 28, 2022
The new year is rapidly approaching and whether you’re a fan of the New Year’s Resolution or not, it’s a great time to set new goals, evaluate old ones, and recommit to progress in every area of your life. Get inspired with three goal-setting strategies that could make all the difference - each accompanied by processes and methods to get your wheels turning.

Strategy 1: Reflect first.

Before jumping in to new goals, dedicate time to reflect on the past year and consider what kind of growth you’d most like to see in the year ahead. When your new goals are based on the foundation of what you’ve learned, enjoyed, and grown from in the past, you’re more likely to stick to them - and to set the right goals for you to start!

Reflection Method 1: (Almost) Free Writing

If the prompt to reflect on the past year and your goals over that time is plenty of inspiration, great! Grab a journal, set a timer - or set aside the better part of a day - and spill all your thoughts on paper. The benefits of free writing are well-documented, and while traditional free writing is rooted in having no prompt at all, a session prompted by the rather broad topic of reflecting upon the past year may prove to be just the trick to kickstarting your 2023.

You can learn more about free writing here.

“The process of free writing liberates you from expectations, opens up space for creativity and allows you to download all of the thoughts, feelings and stresses that are floating around in your head. It’s kind of like riding a gentle, emotional wave without worrying about where the wave takes you.”

Reflection Method 2: Guided Deep-Dive through 25 Questions from Maxie McCoy

If a little more structure sounds more your style, there are many fabulous question sets to revisit each year. Over the years, I’ve often returned to this extensive set of questions from writer and speaker, Maxie McCoy. These questions range broadly covering the gamut of topics: what you’re proudest of, what money you felt was best spent, what you would do over if you could, and more, even inviting you to recollect specific memories that might otherwise go forgotten.

Reflection Method 3: 3 Simple Questions

At the end of 2020, I found myself wanting a simpler (but still structured) means for reflection. Since then, I’ve aimed to return to three simple questions on an annual basis. These questions are an opportunity to explore—even if just within yourself—what makes you feel full, but not heavy, and what’s heavy, but not fulfilling, then make changes from there.

  1. What do I want to leave behind?
  2. What do I want to carry forward?
  3. What do I hope to find along the way?

Strategy 2: Set both process and performance goals.

Whether based on personality, environment, or life stage, we often tend to set of goals, either performance or process goals, much more than the other. However, for meaningful progress, it’s important to set both process and performance goals.

Process or habit goals are completely within your own control. Examples of process goals might include:

  • Write 30 minutes every day.
  • Read for pleasure 15 minutes a day.
  • Move your body 30 minutes every day.

These process goals are critical to overall wellbeing as well as progress toward bigger performance or outcome goals! For example, a process goal of following a particular training program 5 days per week would be a huge step toward a performance goal of completing your first marathon.

If you believe in the power of small wins, these process goals also create landmarks to keep you moving!

Performance goals are related to a given standard. Examples of performance goals might include:

  • Read 30 books this year.
  • Bench press a personal best weight.
  • Complete a certain course or program.

Returning to our earlier marathon example, a performance goal would be to complete the marathon within a certain time. You may also choose to set outcome goals, which is at least within your control; for example, to win your age group in the marathon.

While outcome and performance goals can be very motivating, process goals are the day-to-day building blocks you select to achieve them! Process goals can also stand alone. You do not need a related performance goal for a process goal to be beneficial! For instance, you may have a process/habit goal of completing a mindful morning routine five days per week. That goal could help you toward any of your other goals by improving your overall wellness, but need not be directly attached to any performance or outcome goal.

Method 3: Set Reminders and Check-Ins On Your Calendar.

Just like you’d schedule a meeting, a one-in-one with a direct report after discussing new goals, or an annual review, set up time with yourself! Create progress-points for the goals you’re clear on, and put reminders to revisit the goals you might have needed to gain more clarity around.

Using techniques like habit stacking can help your process goals stick. If one of your goals is to take vitamins each day and you already eat breakfast and read the news at a certain time each day, set a reminder in your calendar for that time to also take those vitamins.

Tips for Effective Reminders and Check-Ins

  • Set appropriately timed daily reminders for the daily habits you’re working to build!
  • Put these check-ins on your calendar now. 25% of “new year’s resolution” setters have abandoned their resolutions by week 2 of January. It’s likely that a lack of reflection and meaningful resolution-making, or goal setting, is responsible for part of this drop off, but setting check-ins will help to keep you accountable through the “danger zone.”
  • Recommended Check-In Points:
  • 1 Week
  • 2 Weeks
  • 1 Month
  • 3 Months
  • 6 Months
  • 9 Months
  • 1 Year
  • Add specific questions and details into these calendar events now.
  • Make it easy to do a check-in right when that notification pops up! Record the particulars of your goal in the event, along with any questions you want to answer as you create them. The easier you make it for yourself to check in and modify based on what’s working well, the smoother your road to success.
  • Example Questions:
  • What’s working well?
  • Marathon example: Long run days might be scheduled well and be something I’m looking forward to.
  • What do I need to adjust?
  • Marathon example: I might wish to run with a group one day a week when I find myself most tired or unmotivated.
  • Do I need to talk with anyone, or take any actions to stay on track? When will I do this? (Put this on the calendar now!)
  • Marathon example: I might need to buy a new pair of shoes, or call a local running shop to get set up with a running group.

Whether you’re aiming to turn a new leaf, or build on habits you’ve been creating, we hope you find new inspiration from some of these methods for goal-setting. Here’s to your most meaningful year yet.

Lauren Lyddon has helped people and organizations to tell their stories for more than a decade. Having tested her love of the creative through the pursuit of an MBA and undergraduate business degrees, she is a writer, editor, and lover of fiction in all its forms (especially theatre, well-written television, and novels). A West coast resident often operating on an East coast schedule, Lauren uses her business background and love of story to serve clients in writing, editing, PR, and more. You can visit her online at



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