“New Year, New Me” – Goal Setting in the New Year.

How do you make a resolution that sticks long enough to really make a change in your life?

If you’re a human, you probably have some stuff that you’d like to change about your life. I know I definitely do. Every year we make resolutions, but usually after a month or so our momentum slows down. We stop going to the gym, forget our planners, mess up our room, text our ex and go back to our old ways. Change is HARD.
Here’s one method I’ve found really works in bringing about change.

1. Start big and work backwards to figure out what you want.

Sometimes we get stuck being “big thinkers” and have lots of ideas about what their future will look like. We might have trouble figuring out what we can do right now to get to that future. If this is you, think of goal setting like an upside down triangle. Start out really big and work your way backwards getting more specific goals as you go until you get to the “point.”

Here’s an example of what my goal chart might have looked like when I was in middle school. I started out really big with my future long term goals. Then I worked backwards until I got to something I can work on right now. The things we do now can have a big impact on the way things in our future.


Figure 1: Triangular Goal Chart. Level One – Find A job that I enjoy, helps others and allows me to support myself. Level Two – Become a social worker/therapist. Level Three: Go to college. Level Four: Finish high school with good grades so I can get into a good college. Level Five: Stay focused on my schoolwork. Level Six: Avoid drama

2. Figure out a plan of action to reach your goal.

Now that I have my goal of “avoiding drama,” I need to figure out how I’m going to do that. I have to come up with a plan of action to reach that/ It will be easier to avoid drama if I know how to do it. My action plan might look something like this:

action plan

Figure Two: Example of an Action Plan. 1. Set boundaries* with friends. 2. Think more positively about myself so what other people think won’t matter as much to me. 3. Find friends who will help me reach my goals. *Boundaries are the rules, limits, and guidelines present in a relationship that let others know what is and is not okay behavior

3. Brainstorm action steps.

Breaking it down even further, action steps help us to figure out exactly what we need to do to reach our goals. Try to be as specific as possible because that will make them easier to follow. Don’t forget, you’re brainstorming; just because you come up with an idea doesn’t mean it’s part of your plan. Maybe an idea pops in your head and you think “I’m not gonna do that!” Write it down anyway because writing it down could help you think of things you will do. Be creative, get wild and crazy! Here are some examples of how to brainstorm based on our example: 

  • A Web

Figure 3: Boundaries listed in web format. Only worry about myself. Block anyone who starts drama. Don’t listen to or spread rumors. Don’t skip class. Get off the phone when doing homework. Uninstall snapchat. Tell my friends I want to do well in school and that I don’t want to be involved in drama. Journal prompts on boundaries and communication.

  • A List
thinking positively

Figure 4: List of ways to think positively. Journal prompts. Write down 3 compliments about myself. Write down positive quotes. Write down positive song lyrics.

  • Bullet Points
supportive friends

Figure 5: Bullet pointed list of ways to find supportive friends. 1. ask my friends if they want to be involved in a study group, what their goals are so we can help each other, and if they will listen when I’m having a hard time. 2. Find new friends by joining a club at school, sitting at a new lunch table, or switching schools. 3.Get rid of friends who start drama.

4. Come Up with a Timeline.

Now that you have your goals and you’ve brainstormed action steps, it’s time to work out the details. Pick out a few action steps you’re going to commit to, come up with a plan for them, and set a date to complete them by. I like to create a timeline for myself. This helps me to remember what I need to do and how often I need to do it to reach my goal. It’s a great tool for staying on track. Here’s an example of what a timeline might look like:

Task Due Date/Plan for Completion
Talk with my friends about my goal of being involved in less drama 1/30/19: talk with my friends during lunch
Let my friends know that it’s really important that I do well in school 2/2/19: talk with my friends during lunch
Ask my current friends what their goals are so we can work together to reach them 2/20/19: talk with my friends during lunch
Ask my friends if they want to be involved in a study group Before our next big test
Join a club at school doing something I’m interested in Listen to announcements to find out when it is
Write down three good things about myself every day Ongoing – Daily: Every day when I wake up in the morning
Answer one positivity journal prompt each week
Self Love journal prompts
The Future journal prompts
Confidence journal prompts
Gratitude journal prompts
Ongoing – Weekly: Every week on Thursday night before bed
Answer one boundaries journal prompt each week
Boundaries journal prompts
Communication journal prompts
Ongoing – Weekly:
every week on Tuesday night before bed


Now that I’ve got my action steps picked out, a plan, and dates to complete them by, I’m ready to go! I’ll probably come back to these notes at least once a month to remind myself what I’m working on. I might review them more often if I’m having a hard time staying on track. The “new me” is going to commit to doing these things in the new year. By doing that I’ll be one step closer to my goal of becoming a social worker and having a job I love helping others.
I know that setting goals in this way works because it worked for me. By taking tiny steps when I was a kid I was able to reach my dreams. I have an awesome job as a social worker that I love, lets me help others, and support myself. Now that I’ve reached the top of my goal triangle, I’ve not new triangles I’m working on.

Change can be really hard, but it can also be really worth it. It might not seem like it, but the little things you do right now can make a big difference for future you. With some work and support you can create your “new you” in the new year!


Need some help getting started setting your goals or want to know more? Comment on this post and we’d be happy to help!


Happy New Year!

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