How to Keep New Years Resolutions (Not Just Make Them)

The last 3 years that I taught school I was a junior high, special education teacher where most of my classes were mild/moderate literacy courses.  It was a great job that I loved.  The 4 previous years were spent teaching art at a lock down school—another job that was AWESOME!!!!
Each of these jobs taught me unique and important lessons—everything from the value of those crazy teenage souls to knowing how to “ghetto rig” an outfit.  But today I want to share something simple, practical, and that I use every year:  How to write and achieve goals.
In special education goal setting is a big deal and I was all about the it…setting them, monitoring them, keeping them, exceeding them.  Seeing progress was always exciting.  And ever since that first year I taught special education I’ve been writing my own personal goals much the same way as I wrote my students.
Here’s how it works.  At the beginning of the year I sit down and write down what I would like to have accomplished by the end of the year.  (I don’t do it anywhere fancy…just on a piece of paper, or in my journal, or sometimes on a sticky note that I tape up next to my night stand.)  Next, I break down the steps that I need to complete in order to accomplish that goal into monthly increments.
For example my sister in law and I were talking about how we don’t read as much as we used to.  I used to devour books reading around 40 books a year.  But lately….well, not so much.  So we each set an easy goal this year to read 24 books and I’ve already made my book list.  (I’m reading the 24 books that I probably should have already read by now.)  Now there are 12 months in a year so I know I have to read 2 books every month.  So when I’m writing out my weekly things to do lists I know I’ll need to either be starting a new book or finishing one up every week.  Easy.
But what about goals that aren’t so tidy? 
Like this year I want to “lighten the load” in my house.  Meaning I want to go through everything we have and get rid of what we don’t need.  (This will be a huge undertaking!)  So I will concentrate on one room each month.  For example, let’s say in January I focus on the kitchen…so the first week I will reorganize the pantry, the next week move onto the cupboards, then the drawers, and then for the last week maybe do a little deep cleaning—washing down walls and blinds, etc.  When January is over the kitchen will be finished and I’ll be ready to move onto to the girls bedroom in February and so on and so forth month by month, room by room, until the year ends and my home has been purged.
This idea of writing an end goal and breaking it down into small chunks isn’t new or novel or unique.  But it works. 
The only other advice I’d offer on the subject is this:  Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many goals.  I limit myself to around 4 goals and write out what I need to do each month to complete them.  I will have my list written down—with the complete monthly breakdown—in just a few days.  Then all I have left to do is review the goal sheet at the beginning of each month, and each week as I’m making out my “to do” list I add in those things that need to be done to complete the tasks for that month.
I hope it doesn’t sound complicated because I swear it isn’t.  All you need is a piece of paper, a pencil, and a place to keep your list.  There aren’t any complicated charts…no modge podging or vinyl sign making projects.  Just your goals and a way to meet them.
Yes, I know that life happens and that  plans (and goals) need to be adjusted—-everyone gets pneumonia and has diarrhea for the entire month of December (see my last post) BUT (and this is the important part) if I don’t plan it I don’t do it…and I want to do it—my read more, run faster, lighten the load, spend better time with my family goals—and I’d rather try and do better than not to try at all.
I saw a sign the other day that said “A year from now you’ll wish you would have started today.”  Time goes by way too quickly and I don’t feel like I have a lot of it to waste. 
So, here’s to the new year and the chance for all of us to start something good—so that next year we can all be glad that we started today.
Happy New Year Everyone!
(And don’t worry…we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow!)
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  1. says

    oh how i love that quote! i usually start new years resolutions and never really stick to them. your system totally makes sense though and is doable! we have a lot of goals that we are trying to achieve right now. in a few short months my hubby is starting his own business. i am feeling very overwhelmed and nervous about it. we have so much we need to get in order before it happens though. i think breaking down each activity and doing a little each day will help a ton. plus keep me less stressed!

    do you schedule in your sewing time too?

    • says

      Yes, I totally schedule in sewing items on my daily and weekly to do lists. Seriously, if I don’t write it down it doesn’t get done. I’m too flakey and get caught up doing too many crazy things…I need a list to keep me focused, and that even includes things like sewing.

  2. says

    Purging, organizing, and cleaning up is the best!!! It really frees you, so make that a priority! I appreciate the goal info. I thought during winter break I would read my stack of (10?) home magazines, perhaps start my one John Grisham read for the year, finish the painting (baseboards,trim) in the kitchen, and on and on. I hate that time flies by! I found myself sitting for 20 minutes on a heating pad reading a new book “Happy Home” because of a pinched nerve in my upper back two nights ago and that was it! “clean front of cupboards” has been transferred for 5 days now on my to-do list–ugh!!! TODAY! Cheers to a productive, fun, and (sometimes) “downtime” 2013! Can we really do it??

  3. says

    Yes, I totally schedule in sewing items on my daily and weekly to do lists. Seriously, if I don’t write it down it doesn’t get done. I’m too flakey and get caught up doing too many crazy things…I need a list to keep me focused, and that even includes things like sewing.

  4. says

    Thanks for this – I am undergoing a massive change this year by moving out of home and starting uni, so knowing how to set and achieve goals is going to be incredibly important for me!

  5. says

    What a clever suggestion!! I like it very very much and will do my own Goals List 2013. Reading and cleaning, organizing, purging are my favorites, but I will have to include some monthly activities to do with the family and some extra only with my husband 😉 Thank you for sharing. Best wishes from Spain.

  6. says

    Great tips, and oh so simple! Thanks for sharing. I’m terrible at making and keeping goals, but I want to be better so I’m going to give it a shot this year. We had a December like yours, and are still trying to get over it.

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