It’s that time again: new year goals. But the ones you made last year fell through and others may have caused you more stress than joy. Now you’re probably thinking you’re doing something wrong and want some insight. I hear ya because I’ve been there.
One piece of wisdom I learned from living with leukemia is to simplify our complex lives, which we tend to overcomplicate. Being ambitious (like climbing the corporate ladder) and wanting to achieve success (like making a million dollars) are fine if they’re what you truly want. But it’s easy to fall into a trap of desiring physical stuff, more money, or recognition because everyone surrounding you, both physically in your life and digitally on social media, is doing the same thing. It’s an acquired desire, culturally transmitted, but it may not be aligned to your values, true nature, or latent desires.
Plus, we often make too many goals. I recently came across a blog post listing 20 personal goals for the new year. Just reading those goals had my head spinning with anxiety, and they weren’t even mine.
If you have yet to make any new year goals or are struggling with ones you’ve already set, my suggestion is to keep it simple. And I’m going to show you how. Read on to discover my recipe for creating new year goals in 2022 that rock and won’t leave you stressed out.
KISS your new year goals hello
Keep It Simple & Safe (KISS). Yes, it’s time to simplify your goals this year. Out of everything you want to achieve, I’m telling you to just choose one. Yes, you heard me. One.
You don’t have to achieve all your dreams in a single year. One ambitious goal is enough because we’re going to make it worth it.
Fill your new year goals with meaning
For example, one of my core values is contentment. I learned the hard way how much stress and sickness a body can accumulate when you stop doing things you love for the sake of ambition and money. This is why I make a point of always doing something I love: writing, spending time with family and friends, reading, enjoying time outdoors, and helping others (without draining myself in the process).
For example, my goal last year was to start a freelance writing business by June. I had to modify my timeline often and only started freelancing in at the end of September. My goal for the last quarter of 2021 was to make a rather ambitious but doable amount of money by December 2021. I didn’t hit that goal, but I came close. I reached about 67% of it. This month, I expect to hit 90-100% of the goal.
My new goal for freelancing this year is also quite ambitious, but if I reach it then I know I can make a living from doing what I love while putting aside money for savings and retirement; making time for family, friends, and my creative writing; enjoying time in nature; being able to help others.
You can achieve the same without getting stressed out. Sound good? Then let’s lets jump into the nitty-gritty.
Your recipe for no-stress new year goal setting
As promised, here’s my recipe for setting no-stress new year goals in 2022.
1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize.
Prioritize one of your core values or your life purpose, before setting your goal. If you’re focusing on a value, choose one that makes you feel good (it should NOT cause you to stress. If it does, it’s not a core value).
Then make sure the goal you choose aligns with your purpose or value. For example, my freelancing goal was aligned to my value of contentment and my life purpose of using my creativity to help others.
You may not get it right the first time and it may take a few hours, days, or even a week before you stumble upon the right goal. It will resonate within you when you find it, so trust your gut instinct with this one.
2. One new year goal only
Decide on one goal only. Choose a goal that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, lights a smile on your face, and gets you a little excited. Again, if it gets you super stressed instead of excited, then rethink your goal until you feel butterflies flitting in your stomach… and yes, I’m saying you should be in love with your goal. If not, it’s not worth doing.
3. Divide your goal in 4
Break your yearly goal down into quarterly goals, which you’re going to make slightly ambitious, but doable. This means you want to feel eustress, stressed enough to get you excited and motivated, but not too much to have you panicking or anxiety-ridden.
For example, my quarterly goals to achieve my freelancing goal last year were:
- Q1: Speak with someone qualified to see if I’m on the right track with my goal. (It’s always helpful to get a second opinion, so I had 6 sessions with an industrial psychologist and explored various options before returning to my first choice, freelance writing).
- Q2: Find and take a content writing course. (I didn’t finish the course by Q2, so I carried it over into the next quarter, modifying my Q3 goal).
Find your first two clients.Finish the content writing course and find your first client. (I thought I would have found two clients by the end of the quarter. But I simply modified my goal because Q2 didn’t go as planned. No biggie.)
- Q4: Find your second client and make at least X Euro per month by December 2021.
As I said before, I didn’t quite make my economic goal but came close. I learned to roll with the punches and moved forward.
4. Create quarterly stepping stones
Break quarterly goals into action steps you can measure. For example, one of my steps in the last quarter of 2021 was to research the best online writing groups for content marketers and freelance writers once a week. Once I joined these groups, I modified this goal into a weekly group check-in. I found one of my clients this way.
Each step should lead you to your destination. If you find some steps aren’t working, you may be spending too much time on one step and not enough on another. And remember to prioritize each step so it will lead you where you want to go.
5. Be flexible (and kind)
Stay flexible and be kind to yourself. You may not reach your quarterly goals, and think, “I give up.” And that’s okay. You’re not defeated, just delayed. If you can’t reach them, modify your current quarterly goal and adapt your next one. Remember to find the learning in your mistakes, let go of any guilt, and move on.
6. Pop open the champagne
Celebrate your small wins! No matter how small, celebrate each step forward. Share them with friends and family, post them on social media, or take a half or full day off to do something else you love. Do whatever feels good, but make sure you acknowledge every small win, and pat yourself on the back.
Celebrating small wins may not seem important, but they unconsciously keep you motivated, help you feel grateful for your progress no matter how small, and make facing any obstacles easier. They’re a great confidence booster, too.
7. Plan ahead
Plan your time off in advance. This may not be a problem for you, but I know I get swept up and pulled into a flow, without noticing the passage of time. So I made a point of telling my clients upfront I wouldn’t be available for two weeks in December. I’m starting to plan long weekend getaways now and looking at possible dates for the summer holidays.
Even if you don’t have a job right now, act as if you do and set aside time to relax. You may not go anywhere, but spending time at home relaxing without barreling through life lets you regenerate and start over with your energy and motivation recharged.
Review your new year goals
Along the way, take time to you review your steps and mini-successes to make sure you’re still aligned to your core value and life purpose. Temptations to stray from your path wait for you at every corner.
For example, I could have taken a few jobs along the way but I didn’t. One was tempting, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed the subject matter. Another I would have enjoyed but they didn’t accept my payment terms. I declined both jobs. I was fairly sure I made the right decision but had some nagging doubts until I landed the right client who pays well.
Finally, have faith you’ll arrive at your destination and keep your eye on the end goal.
Final tips for no-stress new year goal setting
Here are a few more tips to make new year goal setting stress-free:
- Craft a 6-month plan. Sometimes, yearly goals can seem too daunting. If this is the case, start with a simple 6-month plan. This way you’ll feel less stressed about adapting it along the way and more motivated to create your next 6-month plan. Remember to be realistic and don’t cram a year’s worth of action steps in 6 months.
- Ask for advice. Another bit of wisdom from my leukemia days is to always ask for help. I was able to grow through trauma because I finally learned how to ask for help. The key is asking the right people if you’re on the right track with your goal. Sometimes a disinterested third party, like a coach or career counselor, can give you insightful feedback.
- Simplify your life. Don’t stop at simplifying your goals. Learn how to tame the chaos of life, too. Get rid of physical clutter because an organized environment creates a calmer mind. And you can achieve greatness when your mind is free from confusion and worries.
Rock your new year goals with simplicity
Now you know how to create simple, no-stress new year goals that will motivate you to carry through, helping you to enjoy the new year come what may.
Soon, you’ll be jumping out of bed each morning, eager to dive into your action plan. You’ll be dancing in celebration of your small wins as you come closer to achieving your goal. Above all, you’ll savor the sweetness of success and the satisfaction of achieving a meaningful goal that brings you joy.
So, grab pen and paper and start creating your one-of-a-kind new year goal for a life-changing 2022.