Lifestyle & Wellness

How to set goals for the new year & beyond in 2023

Paper goal planner among stationery - How to set goals for the new year
Photo by Alexa Williams on Unsplash – How to set goals for the new year

As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to think about setting some goals. If you want to know how to set goals for the new year and beyond, read on.

Now, I’m not one for bucket lists or new year’s resolutions, because these are often designed to set us up for failure when we don’t achieve something by a set date. They often feel forced and over-ambitious when we are already juggling so much in our lives.

I much prefer goal setting as you can make them realistic, achievable and adaptable. You can modify them if needed, without feeling guilty. They can be as grand as writing a book or as small as finding five minutes a day to meditate.

Here are some tips and tricks if you need to know how to set goals for the new year.

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The ‘how-to’:

Get a plan of action together to keep yourself focused and on track.

1. Write down your goals

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to put your goals in writing. Having them written down will help you keep track of your progress and hold yourself accountable. Plus, it’ll be a great way to look back and see how far you’ve come at the end of the year.

Keeping a simple tracker is a great way to see your progress in print or on screen. You could write up your list, or create a spreadsheet to mark milestones. Or you may get inspiration from a fancy goal planner such as those by Freedom Mastery in various gorgeous colours.

2. Be specific

When it comes to setting goals, being specific is key. Vague goals are more difficult to achieve because they lack a clear plan of action. So, instead of setting a goal like “read more” try something like “read three fiction books by June.”

You’ll have heard of the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound). This is a more structured way of setting goals and ensuring they can be measured for success.

I don’t follow this exact framework myself as I like more flexibility, but many find it helps them structure and achieve their goals so read more on the framework if it appeals to you.

3. Make realistic goals

Another important thing to keep in mind when setting goals is to make sure they’re realistic. If your goal is too lofty, you’re likely to get discouraged and give up before you even make any progress.

On the other hand, if your goal is too easy, you might not feel challenged or motivated enough to stick with it. Try to find a happy medium between something that’s challenging but also achievable.

Make your goals tangible and try to identify possible pitfalls in advance to give yourself the best chance of success. Don’t set yourself up for failure!

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How to set goals for the new year

4. Hold yourself accountable

A great way to stay on track with your goals is to find someone who will hold you accountable. This could be a friend, family member, or even a co-worker. Having someone to check in with on a regular basis will help keep you focused and motivated throughout the year.

You may find a group that have similar goals (perhaps related to career, health or fitness) or you might already have a coach that you want to share your goals with.

5. Review and update as necessary

If something isn’t working well for you, give yourself permission to make amendments to your goals. This isn’t failing, just re-calibrating to ensure you keep things relevant and manageable.

You may find a goal you created no longer serves or interests you and that’s OK. Perhaps you need to shift the deadline or goal altogether. If a goal you can’t meet is making you unhappy, change it up.

6. Make them habits

Ensure you not only have your goals written down but scheduled into your calendar or goal tracker. Stick reminders on post-its around your home and alerts on your phone. These reminders are essential for staying on track and making them ingrained habits of your life and routine.

If some of your goals are actually healthy habits you want to install in your daily life, you need to allow time for that. Keep at it, at a pace you can manage, until they are cemented into your routine.

7. Remember to reward yourself

This is a key way to focus on the end game. You might have a half-way reward such as a new book, journal or a celebration night out when you finally achieve your goal.

Mini rewards are good for long term goals to keep your motivation up, recognise your hard work and how far you’ve come. Give yourself a pat on the back and acknowledge it with a reward.

The ‘what’:

Perhaps you need some inspiration on what to focus on with next year’s goals. Whether you’re looking to improve your health, your relationships, or your career, read on and see if any of the below resonates.

If you already have your list, that’s great! You might still want to add one or two from the below to have a varied bunch of goals which are the right combination of challenging and fun.

Coffee and diary - how to set goals for the new year
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash – How to set goals for the new year

1. Finding more time for you

This isn’t easy but to give yourself a chance you need to set a realistic goal such as an hour a week or 10 minutes a day. Decide what you will do with this time (meditate, read fiction, practice yoga) and put the time in your calendar or set a phone reminder so you stick with it.

You may need to cut something out to find more time. Perhaps less time on social media app or less TV time. Consider getting up a little earlier to find pockets of time.

Read more on finding me time and things to do on a day off alone to yourself and maximise your precious time to yourself.

2. Get in shape:

Yep, this old chestnut. But it’s a common one for most of us for good reason. Exercising regularly can improve your energy levels, mental clarity, and overall sense of well-being.

Not sure where to start? Check out some of the exercise posts on this site. Read how to sneak in exercise when you work from home, the benefits of exercising outdoors and how to start running again to give you plenty of ideas on how to get started and keep up at it.

3. Save money

Sadly this is one many of us need, especially with the current cost of living crisis being experienced across the globe. If you’re not sure where your finances stand, now is a great time to take a close look at your spending habits and make some changes.

You may be surprised how much money you can save by making small tweaks to your budget. Read cutting costs at home and how to avoid impulse buying for more essential tips for keeping on top of your spending.

4. Travel more

See more of the world if you’ve not had much opportunity in recent years. If you’ve been putting off a special trip for a while now, it could be time to prioritise your need for adventure.

Read the benefits of travelling alone (lucky you if it’s an option!) and pack everything in a cabin bag for maximum efficiency.

You don’t have to go far though – even a weekend getaway can be refreshing – but getting out of your comfort zone will do wonders for your mind, body, and soul. Read alternative holiday or vacation ideas for inspiration or if money is tight.

If you have little ones now, that doesn’t mean travel is over for the next 10 years, but you do need to be strategic. Read holiday with a baby or travelling with a toddler and be prepared for every possibility!

5. Learn something new

If you’re looking for a challenge, why not try learning something new? Take up a new hobby, learn a new language, or enrol on an online course that interests you.

Not only will you feel accomplished when you reach your goals, but you’ll also acquire valuable skills that could come in handy in other areas of your life. We underestimate the power of transferable skills across different areas of our life.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a new instrument? Or take up something else creative or social to meet others in your local area. It’s truly never to late to start learning something new.

Goals list - how to set goals for the new year
Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels – How to set goals for the new year

6. Allow time for your creative side

For some of you, this might be linked to the above if you are taking up a new creative skill. For others it will be about re-igniting a creative interest you may have neglected in recent years.

Or perhaps you just want to carve out time and allow yourself to be creative in whatever way appeals to you. It could be dancing, painting, singing, making things or even enjoying the creativity of others such as visiting art galleries or going to watch live music or dance more.

7. Make headway in your career

If you’ve hit a lull and want to see change in your job or career, there’s no better time than the new year to get cracking. Perhaps you want to start job hunting straight away for something new, but if that’s not an option, look at other ways you can make positive change at work when you can’t just quit.

If you just want more flexibility at work such as working at home, to give yourself better life/work balance or to cut the commute (and your stress levels) that may well be achievable. Fine-tune your approach when asking to work from home in a way that justifies the benefits to your employer.

Working from home or more flexibility will also give you more time to achieve all the other goals on your list!

Some more ideas – how to set goals for the new year

  • Career/work such as starting your own business or setting income targets
  • Relationships/family such as taking a young niece/nephew/older relative out regularly or saving together to buy a home with a partner
  • Health and well-being such as quitting smoking or eating a minimum number of fruit & veg a day
  • Personal growth such as starting therapy/counselling, journaling or reading a self-help book a month
  • Community focus such as volunteering or donating blood
  • Environmental focus such as recycling/composting more, taking public transport more and eating particular foods less

Conclusion: How to set goals for the new year

The new year is a great time to reflect on the past year and set some goals for the coming one. The above tips should help you work out how to set goals for the new year with confidence.

By following these simple tips – writing down your goals, being specific, making realistic goals, finding an accountability partner and so on – you can make the most of your time and set achievable goals for yourself that leave you excited and confident.

Setting and achieving personal goals is always rewarding, but it can be tough to nail them down. And even harder to stick to them without a plan. Save and refer back to this post to keep yourself on track to achieve your goals!

What are your thoughts on how to set goals for the new year? Share below.

Bookmark this to read again later or share – how to set goals for the new year

How to set goals for the new year


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