Sian Rowsell picture

How do I set goals for the new year?

It’s mid December!

As well as being a time to panic and wonder if you’ll be ready for Christmas(!) it’s the perfect time of year to step back, to review the year that’s almost gone and to plan for the year ahead…

Lots of people are asking me: ‘how do I set goals for the new year?’

Reviewing the current year

Before thinking about next year, I find it’s helpful to review where we are today. I also think it’s helpful to start by remembering what has gone well

What are you proud of achieving this year?

What have you learned?

(It’s too easy to get sucked straight into thinking about what didn’t work so well and to think about things you wish had turned out differently!)

“People think better… if the very first thing they do is to say something true and positive about how their work… is going. The mind responds best to a full picture of reality. And always a huge part of reality is what is good”

– Nancy Kline, Time To Think

Get hands on

I like to draw things out on paper. On a large piece of paper, draw a timeline to represent 2017 (whatever that looks like to you). Then add to the timeline all the successes you had over the year, big AND small. Add notes next to each one on what you did to make that success come about. You don’t need to share this with anyone if you don’t want to, so be proud of your achievements!

What didn’t go so well?

Next, but without dwelling too long on it, what didn’t work so well?

What would you not do again next year or do differently?

What did you invest time or money on that was not fruitful?

Remember Pareto’s Law!

In my Lean training, I learned that according to Pareto’s Law roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes (the vital few).

We can use this in reviewing our year:

What are the 20% of things that brought in 80% of your success?

e.g. in business, who are the 20% of your clients that brought in 80% of your income?

or, which are the 20% of social media posts that brought in 80% of your engagement?

which are the 20% of your meetings that were most productive??


What are the things that took 80% of your time but yielded 20% of your results?

e.g. what are the things that took 80% of your effort but brought in 20% of your business?

Set goals for the new year

In order to think more freely, I like to draw or to mind map, or at least to use coloured pens on unlined paper!

set goals for the new year

How would you like to picture your success in 2018? Can you capture (draw/sketch/diagram/write) it on a blank piece of paper?

What words would you like to associate with the new year?

If you’re setting financial goals, what do you want your income to be?

Where will that money come from? What will that money be used for?

Can you capture your goals as if you’ve already achieved them? e.g.

It is the 31st December 2018 and I am…


It is the 31st December 2018 and I have…

Make sure you’re thinking big and being bold in your ambitions! For some more ideas on goal setting, take a look here.

Keeping it visible

However you capture your vision for 2018 and your goals, remember to keep them visible – on your desk, on your office wall, a picture on your phone – and look at them often!

How do you set goals for the new year?

What about you? Have you reviewed 2017 and set goals for the new year, for 2018?

Please let me know your thoughts by adding your comments below…

To find out how I can help you to review your year and set goals for the new year, please get in touch via the contact form or call me on +44 7526 740486.

I have places available for the next term of the Macclesfield Bird Table which starts in January.

Alternatively I have places available for 1:1 clients (working face-to-face, via phone or via Skype).

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Wishing you a great Christmas and a fabulous 2018!

Sian Rowsell picture


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4 replies
  1. Rebecca Ronane
    Rebecca Ronane says:

    Thank you Sian, great post with advice I’m going to activate in 2018. Indeed concentrating on what I didn’t achieve is in 2017 is way too easy, so the idea of a mini review with more concentration on what I did achieve sounds positive & very useful. Looking forward to 2018 goals.


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