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Do You Really Need to Set Goals for a New Year?

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As we move into the final weeks of the year, there’s a good chance you’re looking ahead to next year and trying to figure out what goals to set.

While I love goal-setting, and I’m usually working on at least one area of my life, I’m not sure you really need to set goals for a new year each year.

In fact, one of the reasons 2016 was so great was because I chose not to set goals. I had an amazing year. The fact that 2017 has — in many ways — been a disaster is a completely different story. But I did learn through a year of no resolutions that sometimes you need a break from the constant push to move on to the next thing.

If you are struggling and not sure how to set goals for the coming year, here are some ideas of what you can try instead:

Enjoy a Year of Exploration

I loved 2016 because I used it as a year of exploration. Rather than trying to set goals or change my life, I instead tried to figure out what I wanted in my life. To that end I:

  • Volunteered
  • Tried different business ideas
  • Spent more time with my son
  • Traveled
  • Experimented with my schedule

The idea wasn’t to try to force myself into something. Instead, coming off a divorce and a cross-country move, I wanted to figure out how to make my life work. Additionally, I wanted to think about how I want things to look going forward.

Staying away from the goals helped do that. At the end of it, I had a pretty good idea of the kind of life I wanted — and some ideas on how to adjust my life in a way to allow me to create that life.

Work on One Area of Your Life

Rather than a laundry list of resolutions that encompass all areas of your life, consider focusing on one area of your life during the coming year.

You don’t even need to set specific goals right now around that area of your life. Instead, identify a part of your life where you could improve. It could be parenting, business, health, money management, spirituality, or anything else.

Start the year by considering what it is you’d like to see in your life in that one area. Take a few weeks to examine your current situation to see if it meshes with your expectations or values.

Once you’ve done that, you can figure out if there are some things you can do to improve. Start working on that improvement little by little. You have the rest of the year to make gradual changes that stick.

There’s nothing wrong if you want to set goals for the new year. However, if you are getting tired of goals that feel like they are forcing you down a path, consider adjusting how you approach life and self-improvement. Use this year as a chance to reflect and grow. Think of it as a step in your journey and go from there.

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I’m Miranda and I’m a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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