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Inspire Your 2022: Take the 20-minute Goal-Setting Challenge

Make your 2022 goals happen with this simple goal-setting exercise

Do you have goals or resolutions for 2022? In the spirit of Ben Franklin’s sentiment of “failing to plan is planning to fail,” taking just 20 minutes to clarify and declare your goals significantly increases the likelihood of achieving them. Goal-planning is an act of self-care and self-advocacy — so what are you waiting for? Commit to 20 minutes today or grab a friend and do it together.

Ready to get started? Get a piece of paper and pen, find a quiet place and set your timer. Let’s go!

Step 1: Connect with your vision (1 min)

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Take a deep breath to calm your body and mind. Think about the questions below. You can write the answers or simply hold them in your mind.

What is most important to me?

How do I want to feel in 2022?

When I look back on 2022, what do I want to feel most proud of?

Step 2: Identify your goal categories (4 min)

Write out at least 3 main categories that you’ll identify goals for. You might start with “Career” or “Education”, “Health” and “Financial.” If you want to add more categories, you might add personal categories like “Relationship” or “Family,” or fun categories like “Hobbies,” “Life Enrichment” or “Travel.”

If this is your first time goal-setting, keep it simple. Just list the areas that you have clear goals for so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Step 3: Clarify your objective for each category (5 min)

Clarify what you want to achieve for each category. What are you are shooting for? We call these your objectives. Examples might include “save $1,000,” “lose 10 lbs.,” or “get a higher-paying marketing job.” Identify 1 or 2 objectives for each category. Try to be as specific as possible.

The objectives are not themselves the actionable goals you’ll be completing over time (we’ll get to that next), but rather the destination that your actionable goals ladder up to. Before you identify what you need to do, you need to know what you are targeting.

What is the smallest step or unit of action you can take that moves you toward your objective?

Step 4: Write actionable SMART goals for each (10 min)

Now that you know what you are targeting, you can determine what you need to do to get there. Step four has you identify your actionable goals, the actions you will take over time to achieve your objectives. You will utilize the SMART goal format.

“SMART” is an acronym for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant,” and “time-bound.” The primary benefit of the SMART goal format is in its helping you define and scope your goals in a way that improves your ability to achieve them. I will not go into detail on the SMART goal format, as there are many excellent articles that do just that (like this one). I suggest you review the graphic below and read more about SMART goals to get started on this step.

To identify your actionable goals, work backwards from your objectives. What is the smallest step or unit of action you can take that moves you toward your objective? If your objective is to “lose 10 lbs,” your actionable goals might include “work out at the gym for 40 min twice per week,” “meet with a dietician twice before June,” or “reduce my soft drink consumption to one serving per week.” Identify 1–3 actionable goals per objective.

To help you craft the SMART-est goals, consider the following:

  • Make sure that you have complete control and ability to execute each action yourself with as little dependence on others to complete them as possible.

  • If you are new to goal-setting or prone to discouragement, opt for setting goals with a low bar. It’s often more motivating and satisfying to exceed an easily attainable goal than to reach for and miss a stretch goal.

  • Expand on your goals by adding how you might achieve each goal as sub-goals. “Work out at the gym for 40 min twice per week” might expand to “try one fitness class and one personal training session before March.” “Meet with a dietician twice before June” might include “crowdsource dietician referrals from my network by end of February” or “sign up for my company’s free dietician benefit by January 30.” “Reduce my soft drink consumption to one serving per week” might be supported by “try switching to to unsweetened seltzer and iced tea for one week.”

  • Don’t overload yourself with goals or sub-goals. Start with a short list that you can choose to expand over time.

  • It’s OK to make some goals optional. Giving yourself flexibility can make goal attainment more manageable.

Next Steps & Tips for Success

If you’ve completed the four steps above, congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward achieving your goals. To increase successful attainment of your goals, commit to the next steps below.

Share your goals with a trusted friend of family member. Declaring your goals out loud increases your commitment to achieving them. You might also ask for feedback, to ensure that your SMART goals are realistic and attainable within your timeframe.

Post your goals where you can see them to keep them top-of-mind.

Get accountability support. Ask a trusted friend, family member or coach to help you break down big goals into smaller pieces to be paced over time. Check in with this person on your progress and follow up with them at the end of 2022 to review what you have achieved. Ask them to be your cheerleader, offering encouragement when progress is tough and praise when you achieve your goals.

Check off completed goals as you achieve them to celebrate success and keep you motivated as you tackle the harder goals.

The more your practice goal-setting, the easier it gets. As with most things, goal-setting is a learned skill that improves with practice. The more you practice, the better you’ll become at identifying and achieving goals, and the more you’ll enjoy the process.

Achieving your goals starts with establishing your intentions through goal-setting. We hope you enjoyed the goal-setting process and wish you the best as you activate your 2022 goals. Happy New Year!


We want to hear from you. What has your experience been like with goal-setting? Feel free to add comments and provide feedback below.

Annie Hughes is a certified professional coach specializing in career, personal and leadership coaching. Try a free 30-minute consultation to learn what coaching can do for you.
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