New Year’s Goals


“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”

This is a quote by Robert A. Heinlein that my father-in-law has taped to his computer monitor. I noticed it while we were visiting Colorado, and it made me think for a moment. I realized then that I kind of stopped having goals for a while, especially after I got pregnant in September and the terrible morning sickness started. At that point, it was all I could do to focus on existing. I’m glad Chloe will not remember any of it.

Like millions of other people, I am starting to think about the goals I’d like to accomplish in the coming year. Unfortunately, I pretty much failed on my last year’s goals, as easy as they could have been. The problem with me (besides much that I’ll not list here) is that I am simply not a creature of habit. I sincerely dislike repetitive tasks, no matter how good they might be for me, or how much I’ll like the end result. It is just something I know about myself. So, the question is, if I am not goal-oriented, what am I? How do I go about effectively choosing and prioritizing my goals, and how can I accomplish them?

Despite what I just wrote, I am capable of goal-setting and success. Many big things like “getting a degree,” “trip to Europe,” “buying a house,” and “starting a family,” have been accomplished. Small things like “making my bed everyday,” “drinking more water” or “keeping an organized desk” simply haven’t survived, no matter how many times I’ve tried.

So, where to focus? There’s lots to choose from – my kid(s), our finances, our home, family, the things that make us happy, retirement, the future… these are things I’ll be reflecting on in the coming days and weeks, to try and develop some “clearly defined goals.” I encourage everyone to do a little reflecting of your own, if you haven’t already, and please feel free to share your thoughts on the subject!

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7 thoughts on “New Year’s Goals

  1. I understand what you mean. The big goals seem so much easier than the mundane little goals. So often my goals are to general “pray more” or to specific “make my bed every day”. Or even things I only think I have control over “be financially secure”. Some where in the middle of all of that are the goals that do the best. “Keep in touch more (by writing an e-mail, letter, or making a phone call once a week)”. Good luck on your goals. 🙂

  2. Ha! I struggle with this, too. Working in crisis social work I was often reacting to crisis- a little like taking care of kids. I try to set goals that I will enjoy. Ones that can change. Like running can vary with different races. And reading can change. Um… cleaning the house- not so much. And I think I’m almost over worrying about that. Almost.

  3. Happy new year Emily! I’m trying to keep sight of larger goals this year too. I let too much slip by last year. Mine are turning off the computer by 9 (4 more minutes) and focusing on our daily life and learning without distraction until after dinner and bedtime for the kids. It’s going to be hard to break my bad habits, but I’m determined.

  4. I think this year will be a year of no specific goals beside just being and being aware. That may lead me to the goals I really need to work towards rather than what I (and society) think are the right goals for me. Happy New Year!

  5. Like you, I do not like repetitive or “generic” tasks / projects. I do like goal setting because it gives me a reason to “work” hard. It all started when we decided to take control of our finances, inspired by

    My husband and I take some time – usually the last week of the year to discuss goals. It helps set a direction for the future and we have something to look forward to. We have several categories such as retirement, travel, career, family, etc. We make everything as specific as possible like: Increase Roth IRA contribution by $$ amount. For travel, we say visit family in Dallas – Spring or a trip to Alaska in the summer.


  6. I get it. Really. I find myself not as much goal-oriented as I am task-driven. I wish I was more goal oriented, but I like the satisfaction of ticking off tasks: daily, monthly or otherwise. I’m sure it has something to do with being a “list” person — chicken and egg thing.

    I have found that in setting long-term goals my life (and thus priorities) change too often. Things like owning a house — totally off my list. My perspective has completely changed. But living abroad — is much higher on the list now. Hiking the PCT — somewhere in the middle.

    But I feel like a failure if I don’t do things to reach the goals and I don’t think that I am necessarily failing. I’m just changing.

    I too fear becoming the quote… but I also think a nice goal to have is to be a content person. And that can take many forms. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting (or not setting) big lofty goals. Just to be able to take each day one step at a time, I think, can be just as triumphant as setting up some long-term goals.

  7. Great post and I love that quote. Goals are an interesting beast that can enrich your life and make it more meaningful and purposeful but when chosen or implemented wrong can create the opposite effect. I really truly sat and thought about this after reading your article. I tried to put some words together on my own blog also…

    Good luck to all you achieve and may your choices bring you much happiness in the new year!

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