How to set your yearly goals

A framework for personal growth

by Dan

goals šŸ„…|

šŸ§™: "been thinking a lot about your msg the other day about goals"

šŸ•µļø: "oh yeah? what are your goals for the year? (and more importantly, what are habits you can build daily/weekly to hit those goals)"

šŸ§™: "it takes time to really think about it. how did you think about yours"

Well friendly mage, you sure opened a can of worms asking me that.

Step 1: Reflections

Reflect on what you accomplished the previous year. These could be related to your goals, they could be large or small, it can really be anything you are proud of. A few things I reflected on last year:

  • Married my wife, Christine 'Weens' (soon to be Christine M.D.)
  • Caught my first striped bass surf casting (34")
  • Succesfully interviewed for and started a new engineering role
  • Ran my first marathon (Boston 2021 virtual)
  • Snuck in some travel, despite COVID hinderances (HI, CA, ME, NC)

Step 2: Personal Goal Categories

Break your goals down into categories and, for now, set 1 goal per category. You can always add more later if you can get in a good routine of working towards the first few. They should be "verb" based similar to SMART goals. These are the categories I usually go with:

  1. šŸ‹ļø Physical: achieve a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  2. šŸ§  Mental: learn how to draw
  3. šŸ’° Financial: hit $X in my Vanguard savings portfolio
  4. šŸ•“ļø Professional: become a senior level developer

Step 3: Attach Habits to those Goals

Writing down grand things feels good, but at the end of the day, the hard part is the daily grind to accomplish these things. To make these high level goals more tangible, I associate habits to them. Let's habit-ify some goals.

  1. šŸ„‹ Go to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class at least 3x a week throughout the year
  2. āœļø Draw daily for at least 15 minutes (I am doing this guided by a class and some books)
  3. šŸ  Stick to a monthly budget to put $X into my account per month
  4. šŸ’» Code with new technologies or on side projects outside of work at least 2x per week (trying to expand my professional skillsets)

Step 4: Track the Habits

There are a lot of great habit tracking apps and tools out there. But if you are like me or Jerry Seinfeld, then you probably like to keep it as simple as possible using a notebook, calendar or Excel sheet. The idea is every time you accomplish your goals for the day, put an X or any type of indicator on your tracker. Try to build up long streaks. The Power of Habit mentioned above, says it takes about 21 days of consistently doing something to start developing it as a habit. So whenever I am disrupted throughout the year, I aim for that 21 day mark to get back in the swing of things.

Habit tracker and years goals

Every time I successfully complete my goals for the day, I mark the day as 'green'.

Step 5: Monthly Check-Ins

Set a time at the end of every month to do a quick check in on how you are doing. There may be months where you only check off a couple of days for your habits. No problem! Your monthly check-in is a time to reset, and move on from the past month to hop right back into your journey.

You Can Do It

If you are reading this post then feel free to reach out to me directly if you ever want to talk about goals or feedback on this post. I like to share mine with a few friends and family to help keep them in the loop. This is great because sometimes we share similar goals and can join or help one another along the way. Good luck!