Ring in 2010 with tangible, reachable, optimistic goals

New year’s resolutions get a bad rep, and I can understand why. Almost nobody keeps them past January. Why? They’re usually overly-ambitious, they’re made in haste, or the timing is off. The post-holiday letdown tends to give people excuses to throw in the towel before they’ve given their goals a fair shot.

I’m right there with the rest of you. Very rarely does a “resolution” of mine cross the finish line in December. I like making them, and I’ve gone as far as the spring in keeping them. But this year, I’m hoping to think through my ideas and make more concrete, logical, well-planned goals.

Call Them “Goals”

Okay, so “resolutions” isn’t a bad word. But it sort-of implies a promise, a wish, a oh-I-hope-this-works ring to it. To me, a “goal” means a narrowly-defined, reachable result; an end to a race. That’s what I’d like this year. To see tangible progress on my objectives.

That’s why I’m making New Year’s goals this year. It’s no big deal, I realize, but it helps me wipe away the stigma of resolutions and optimistically (and realistically) approach 2010 with some hope and eagerness.

Questions to Get You Started

Like yesterday, I’ve got questions for you to generate discussion. And at the end of this post, I’ll link to a free PDF file for you to print off these same questions as a worksheet on which you can scribble.

I hope these questions spark some ideas for your goal-making in 2010!

Photo by Bing Ramos

I. Personal Growth

1. What healthy character traits would you like to see developed in your life this year? What are some specific steps you can take to develop these?

2. What is your plan for maintaining accountability for progressing in personal growth?

3. What are some of your learning goals for this year?

4. What books would you like to read this year?

5. Do you enjoy your job or jobs (include being a stay-at-home mother, if this pertains to you)? If so, what are your favorite things about your work? If not, what are some ways you can change this?

II. Physical Health

1. What is one area of progress you’d like to see this year for maintaining or improving your physical health?

2. What are some tangible, daily choices you can add to your life that will improve your health?

3. In what way would you like to be physically healthier by December of this year?

4. What is your plan this month for starting this progress towards a healthier you?

III. Marriage & Family Life

If you’re married, proceed to question 1. If you’re single with children, you can skip to question 5.

1. What are some goals you have as a couple to strengthen your marriage?

2. In what ways can you grow in intimacy with your spouse this year?

3. What are your plans for having regular date nights? How will you handle childcare?

4. What plans will you make to pray and/or have “family meetings” together? What books would you like to read together this year?

5. What will deliberate, regular family time look like this year?

6. Do you have specific planned vacation time in mind for this year? What needs to happen to make this vacation a reality?

7. How is your current physical living space working for your family? Do you need to make changes to this? If so, what are they?

IV. Goals for Your Children

1. What are ways you’d like each of your children to grow in the following areas?

a. Physically:

b. Emotionally:

c. Relationally:

d. Spiritually:

e. Educationally:

f. Other:

2. How will your children be educated this year? What are some resources you’d like to explore to help your children develop intellectually and academically?

3. What are your children’s strengths? How will you help them use these well?

4. What are your children’s weaknesses? How will you help them overcome these?

V. Money Matters

1. What is one specific area of progress you’d like to see this year in your financial health?

2. How is your current income? In what ways can you make this increase?

3. How much debt do you have? In what ways can you eliminate a sizeable portion of it (or all of it) this year?

4. How is your savings account? In what ways can you save more money this year?

5. What are some of your long-term financial goals? In what ways can you make progress on them this year?

6. Are you giving regularly? If not, in what way can you give financially this year?

7. What is your plan this month for starting progress towards better financial health?

VI. Relationships Outside the Home

1. In what specific way would you like to grow in relating to your friends this year?

2. What are some ways you can be of service to your immediate community?

3. Who are some specific people in your life that can use some encouragement? What will you do to encourage them this year?

4. Who are some people in your life that you admire? What are some practical ways you can positively use their influence in your life?

5. Are there any damaging relationships in your life? What will you do this year to make these relationships better?

New Year’s Goals

Take a moment to reflect on your answers to all these questions. If you’re inclined,apply these answers by setting a few goals for this year. Call them resolutions if you feel like it.

If you’d like to print these off to journal your thoughts, download a free PDF of these questions. They’re also on the downloads page.

Have you already made New Year’s resolutions/goals? What are they?

top photo source
Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. I made my resolutions exactly what I could do. That way anything I do beyond is is frosting.
    .-= Summer´s last blog ..Last Post of 2009 =-.

  2. Swedish mom says:

    I just wanted to tell you how much this blog inspire me and I want to thank you whit all my heart for theese new-years-pdfs! They are really helping me and my husband to get closer! Thanks to yesterday’s post me and my husband had the best, deepest and longest talk of 2009! Tank you for helping us to reflect our life together and helping us forward in our marriage. Thank you!
    .-= Swedish mom´s last blog ..2010 vi är redo för dig =-.

  3. I am also not doing resolutions this year. My goals tend to be the same each year so this year I have New Year’s “Reminders.” By April (ok, March) I’m usually kicking myself for not sticking to my resolutions, and I’m tired of feeling like I don’t measure up to my own standards! So I’m giving myself a break! Some of my reminders are:
    1. Reinstitute Date Night with Hubby-essential to keep our marriage strong
    2. More patience with the kids and to be more “present” with them (I always seem to be caught up in the whirlwind of our lives, rushing to get somewhere, do something…)
    3. Try one new (healthy) recipe every month
    4. Read more (should be easy now with our new Kindle!) we live overseas and english books are expensive…I actually did pretty well with my reading last year, especially for having 2 kids under 3! Now I am even hungrier for more books!
    5. Be nicer to myself. I think this will be a hard one for me…My standards are probably way too high….
    6. Slow down and live mindfully. Too easy to get “caught up” in things that really aren’t important.

    I have a lot more I think, but need some quiet time this weekend to reflect. If the stars all align, maybe my kids will both take their naps at the same time!

    Just wanted to say how much I love your blog. My sister, who is not a mom, actually turned me on to it and it is now my fav! I love everything-the style-simple, not bombarding me with crap just to keep me on the page, most def the content-thought provoking, but not preachy and I also love the comments from your other readers! I live overseas and it is isolating sometimes (I had both my kids here, so don’t know what its like to be a mom in the states…) its nice to see that I’m pretty normal. Your blog has been a reality check for me of sorts! Also love that you make it easy with all your downloads, etc. Thank you! I even have you on my iGoogle, so please keep doing your thing b/c now I’m hooked! Best for all in 2010!

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Susan. I think the readers provide half the content here! I love the community and the comments you all provide.

  4. HAPPY NEW YEAR! ;D I have yet to make a resolution; but I am excited about making one after my success with last year’s! I do not have the patience (yet 😉 think through to make such goals- just small ‘tortoise’ steps ;)) I think your blog is one of the reasons I am so excited about this forthcoming year- and it has been sometime since I looked forward to new years ;>
    .-= Santhi´s last blog ..2010 is here! – Plans and Goals =-.

  5. I love the new year and setting some simple, concrete goals that I hope to achieve! So far I’ve posted my spiritual -http://girlstogrow.blogspot.com/2009/12/spiritual-goals-for-2010.html – and financial – http://girlstogrow.blogspot.com/2009/12/financial-goals-for-2010.html – goals, with personal and physical to come tomorrow!
    .-= Tracey´s last blog ..Financial Goals for 2010 =-.

  6. Thank you so much for this list of goal-setting questions! It will help me to clear up my mind!
    .-= Micha´s last blog ..Wünsche für 2010 / wishes for 2010 =-.

  7. GREAT article!
    .-= Nikowa Lee´s last blog ..365-1 12 months/12 goals =-.

  8. I so believe in goal-setting (and haven’t made a serious New Year’s resolution since I was in my teens), but it’s really difficult for me to involve DH in the process. I think it’s a personality thing–I’m a real go-getter, and as soon as I finish one big project I have to get in the middle of another. If I see something in my life isn’t exactly the way I want it, I work on making it better.

    DH, on the other hand, is satisfied with everything just the way it is. If you’re familiar with the temperaments, I’m choleric and he’s phlegmatic. Sometimes, it drives me crazy!

    But what I’ve learned to do is to set goals for myself, and gently and lovingly lead the way in making necessary changes.
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..6 Natural Acne Remedies =-.

  9. What a fab, well-thought out post! Goals can be tricky (sometimes I call them projects to make them feel more do-able), but it really is about breaking them down into bite sized chunks and creating a step by step action plan to carry it out. It’s not so much the rate of progress, but progress itself that we’re after, right! Otherwise, goals that are too grand will get tossed to the wayside. Thanks for this!

  10. Thank you so much for this. I’ve never sat down and written anything down. Just generally thought the “usual” lose weight, declutter, organize, etc.

    Love your blog!

  11. Tsh – I too love your blog. I check in almost every day and find your posts very thought-provoking. I have enjoyed glancing through the questions yesterday and today and look forward to printing them out to work on more thoroughly. There are many areas of my life that I want to become more mindful of and these questions are perfect cues for that. It is so easy to become distracted with life and often the general question: “What are your New Year’s Resolutions?” floats around in my mind with no real structure. So thank you for providing a framework for thought.

    I have never been a “simple mom” but have always admired and aspired to those characteristics. Your website provides a calming and inspiring beginning to my day.
    And for this I am grateful. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  12. Tsh – Thanks for all you do on this blog. The questions yesterday were very helpful and thought-provoking. Am just printing off today’s questions for both me and my husband. Oh – and I’ve been meaning to email you to say congratulations!

  13. I make goals for the year as well. I’m hoping that writing them in a blogpost for the whole world to see will make me more accountable. 🙂
    .-= stacy´s last blog ..Responsibility =-.

  14. I totally agree that “goals” are so much better than “resolutions”. I just spent some time thinking through these issues and came up with my list on today’s post. Great minds, right?

    My goal is to be as “intentional” as I can be about how I spend my time, in both work and family issues.

    I think the most important thing I do, though, is to make quarterly appointments with myself and my list, to go over it and make sure that I’m staying focused throughout the year.

    Happy New Year!
    .-= Meredith from Penelope Loves Lists´s last blog ..Goals for the New Year (not a list of resolutions, because I suck at resolutions) =-.

  15. Wow, great post. I too agree with goals instead of resolutions.

    I just found your blog today! Love it. Following you in Google Reader now 🙂

  16. Thanks, Tsh! Another great resource!

  17. Great questions Tsh– I appreciate how thorough they are for different areas of our lives.

    My first goal is to get a working budget in place. I see this as an immediate need and one that’s been hanging over my head for awhile. I hope we make significant progress this year in lowering our debt and moving towards financial freedom.

    Thanks and Happy 2010!
    .-= Tammy´s last blog ..3 Timeless Truths to Cling to in 2010 =-.

  18. you should trademark this questionnaire. this was, hands down, the most useful thought provoking tool i’ve seen yet to inspire goals. really loved it and enjoyed setting goals for 2010!

    best, happy new year, and congrats on your impending arrival! we’re due next month. 🙂
    .-= Aimee´s last blog ..2010 goals =-.

  19. Man, this is GOOD! Thank you so much! Just this morning I was thinking how this year I will NOT make resolutions because I always, always break them and then feel horrible about myself on New Year’s Eve. But I love all these questions and will give it a shot!! 🙂
    .-= Jaimie´s last blog ..Becoming a Giver =-.

  20. P.S. I think your website might just be my very favorite website. Ever. Seriously. So much good stuff.
    .-= Jaimie´s last blog ..Becoming a Giver =-.

  21. Thank you so much for the PDF! Just printed it off… grabbing a pencil and journal…

    And love your site. Happy New Year!
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Merry Christmas from Washington =-.

  22. My goal is to take everything one step at a time and not get so overwhelmed.

  23. Denise C. says:

    Thanks Tsh! This post is one of the MANY reasons I adore your blog! I am very big into goals, though they tend to stay more in my head than written down on paper, thus, they usually do not get accomplished.
    For 2010, I have chosen to use a word to go along with my goals, and chose FOCUS.
    I need to focus on me (I have depression and need to get it under control).
    I need to lose the rest of my pregnancy weight. I am finished having kids, and frankly the excess weight needs to go!
    I need to work on my marriage (my husband and I are in a rough spot).
    And, I need to focus on my kids. I get so caught up in the “daily” stuff that sometimes I put them on the back burner, and that is not the Mother I want to be.

    Happy 2010! 🙂

  24. Great content, thanks so much! My goals (much like the wishes I make when blowing out candles, splitting the wishbone, etc.) are just vague enough to be successful. In 2010, I will eat, move and pray differently. The specifics are relevant to me personally but the underlying thought that moves me is CHANGE = GROWTH. If I am willing to leave my comfort zone to try something new then I have the opportunity to grow from it – even if that growth is in my conviction that doing it the way I was doing it before is really the way I ought to keep doing it;) Here’s to growth in 2010!
    .-= Pot Luck Mama´s last blog ..Happy Meal for Mama 🙂 =-.

  25. My 2010 is going to be markedly different from my 2009. In 2009 I became single (again!), my eldest son and his girlfriend moved out of home and I changed from being self-employed to being an employee. In 2010 (in about two weeks time) my youngest son and his girlfriend are moving into their own home so I will have an empty nest – that really excites me!

    With all the changes that have happened I am being a little cautious about goal-setting right now. I need time to settle into a new way of living and then will figure out all my goals. I do intend to downsize my home later this year, continue to improve my fitness and strength as well as live even more simply than I currently do. Funnily enough they don’t feel like goals to me right now. I guess I need to get them written down which is usually how I make them feel more real. That’s a task for me to work on over the next few days.

    Great post by the way!

  26. This is very timely. A few days ago I sat down and wrote down goals for different areas of my life. You’ve included many good questions to ponder. I will be revisiting my goals and adding more details in the days ahead.
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Memorizing Scripture & Poetry =-.

  27. For me I have always found it easier to make my resolutions and just pick one each month that I will strongly concentrate on while continuing with the previous months plans. That way I don’t feel so overwhelmed in January.

  28. I really liked your blog post about goal setting. One of my takeaways was to start calling them goals instead of resolutions. I think history really has give the term “resolutions” a bad connotation. Thanks for the goal setting worksheet too!

  29. Ohh – I just love these questions. Very thorough and it’ll be fun to sit down and do this 🙂
    I set one goal for this year- to buy all my and the kids clothes from the thrift store. Nothing from regular stores. Two weeks and going strong 🙂
    .-= Jessica @ Life as I See It´s last blog ..Boys Playing =-.

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