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I'm Mara — I help creatives create and launch digital courses and profitable products. I love chatting about online marketing, design and goal setting!

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8 Steps to Set Effective 2024 Goals

Okay, who is ready to talk about goal setting? Because this episode is ALL about setting 2024 goals. I’m going to share the exact process I use to set my goals each year (and what I do to prepare for the next year ahead). I love goal setting and (and also consuming content on how others achieve their goals). That’s exactly what I’m exploring today. Over the years, I’ve followed a similar approach, and that core process is what I’m going to share with you today! 

Listen on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher

My Favorite Goal Setting Tools

Before I dive into strategies for setting 2024 goals, I want to discuss some of my favorite tools for goal setting and reviewing my life and business. First up is my bullet journal, which I’ve mentioned before (you can learn more about the bullet journaling process here). It’s a journal where I reflect on life, set goals, and jot down tasks. I always keep my bullet journal nearby to capture any ideas or goals that come to mind.

In it, I also set weekly goals and create lists of things I want to accomplish. If you’re curious about my weekly planning process, make sure to check out last week’s episode here! I have a list of future courses I’d like to develop for my business, as well as a list of books I want to read.

Another planning tool I use daily is my Full Focus Planner. It’s a physical planner with a layout that helps me plan my days more effectively. While it also has features for setting yearly and quarterly goals, I prefer the strategies I’ll be sharing in this episode so I don’t use those as much. But when it comes to achieving daily tasks, it’s my go-to planner, every single day.

When it comes to figuring out my 2024 goals and what I want in life and reflecting on the year, there are two things I consistently turn to. The first is the PowerSheets by Cultivate What Matters workbook. I love how it guides you through reviewing different aspects of your life, such as relationships, finances, and more. You can rate each area on a scale of one to ten and engage in exercises that explore what brings you fulfillment and happiness, as well as how you want to be remembered. It’s not just business related!

I’ve been using the power sheets since 2017 and this year, I’ll be reusing my power sheets from last year because I’ve noticed that while I enjoy the goal-setting process at the beginning of the year, I don’t use it throughout the year as much (even though there is space to do so). For me, I’m more likely to rely on my bullet journal or a Google Doc to break down monthly goals. If you’ve never tried the PowerSheets, I highly recommend them, particularly if you’re in the early stages of figuring out your life goals.

Then, once I know what I want, I really like the digital workbook “Your Best Year” by Lisa Jacobs. It’s basically a workbook that asks a series of questions about your life and business. I love the reflection questions included. I purchased it in 2018 and now I print and reuse it every year. It may sound strange, but I genuinely enjoy dedicating time to intentionally think about my goals each year.

Now, let’s move on to the actual strategies I use to set 2024 goals.

1. Start Early With Your 2024 Goals

I prioritize early goal setting, unlike many who wait until the new year. Personally, I find it overwhelming and rushed to suddenly think about my 2024 goals after January 1st. Personally, I prefer having ample time for brainstorming and reflecting on what I want to achieve. I also think about what I might want to set as a goal, but not in the next year. I like the spaciousness that starting early provides. Starting in September, October, and November, I start to begin thinking about my goals for the next year.

This phase isn’t too formal either. It usually involves starting a note on my phone and jotting down things as they come to mind. When I notice things other business owners are doing or see areas in my own business that need attention, I make a note to myself like, “This could be a good goal for next year.”

2. Do a Braindump of Potential 2024 Goals

The next step is to do a brain dump of everything you want to achieve. In step one, I simply notice and document casually. In step two, I intentionally open a Google Doc and set a timer for 10 to 20 minutes. I write down everything that comes to mind when I think of 2024 goals, whether it’s something small like trying a new mascara or something big like hiring someone or buying a new car. I don’t limit myself – I let it all pour out!

brain dump 2024 goals

3. Reflect on the Last Year

After brainstorming my goals and creating a brain dump Google Doc, I move on to step three: reflecting on the past year. I find that doing this reflection process after jotting down my goals helps me tap into my creativity and makes the reflection easier. During this step, I take intentional time to think about how the last year went, answering a few key questions. Typically, I write out these questions on a Google Doc and jot down my answers.

Sometimes, I do this during a coffee shop session or during some “me” time when I’m deep in thought. Other times, I simply have these questions and write down the answers as they come to me. For instance, this year, with a newborn, I haven’t had a formal goal-setting session with myself. However, during my morning walks with my dog and daughter, I open up my 2024 goals note on my phone and reflect on these questions.

Here are the questions:

  • What worked well last year? I will just write out everything that felt like it was a win or worked really well in the last year.
  • What didn’t work well? What felt like a waste of time or money or felt like a failure?
  • What felt really stressful? For this one, I try to think of key moments that were stressful too. For example, I had a lot of Monday appointments last year that seemed to always stress me out so for the next year, I know it’s a priority for me to NOT have meetings on Monday. I literally have it in my Google calendar that Mondays are a “no appointment” day. 
  • Lastly, in a perfect world, if I could do anything in the next year, what would I do? The answers to this are always revealing and I love that this question encourages me to dream bigger!

4.   Narrow Your List Down to 3-5 2024 Goals For The Year

I’ve found that setting five goals or fewer is the sweet spot for me. Several years ago, I used to set a whopping 50 goals for the year—I’m not kidding! I had a list from one to 50, outlining everything I wanted to achieve. Can you guess what happened? I only managed to accomplish two of them. That’s when I learned that setting fewer 2024 goals often leads to greater success. So if that’s you too, in the next year, try to focus on fewer things, and you’ll likely achieve better results.

When narrowing down my goals to three to five, I try to take intentional time to think about my goals, either at a coffee shop or by blocking off dedicated time. In the past, I’ve even stayed at a hotel or Airbnb to fully unplug and figure out what I want. However, with a three-month-old baby this year, I’ll be doing it at home or maybe heading to a coffee shop for an afternoon.

While it takes some time to narrow down the list, and sometimes I realize I need to switch or reword something to align better with my intentions, it’s worth it. The key is not to overwhelm myself by trying to do everything under the sun next year. Trust me!

5. Underneath Each of Your 2024 Goals, Create a Few Action Items or Bullet Points 

After setting my three to five goals for the year, I jot down a few bullet points outlining the actions or envisioning what these goals would look like in the next year. Sometimes my goals aren’t a specific metric to hit. I know that goes against some popular “goal setting advice” but sometimes I’m focused on something more abstract or a feeling I want to achieve. So, I capture these ideas in bullet points so that I am still bringing clarity to my vision for the year ahead.

Bonus tip: Create a “Nice To-Do List”

To keep things organized, I create a section below my three to five goals for the year, which I consider my “nice to-do list”. I usually use a Google Doc for my official goals because it’s easily accessible on my phone and computer. Right now, I have my 2024 goals at the top of my Google Doc, followed by my list of five goals. 

Underneath that, I have my “nice to-do list”. These are the things I want to do and if I achieve them in the next year, that’s a win. But if I don’t, I’m not allowed to be upset at myself. On my Nice to-do list, there’s a mix of simple tasks like getting a new purse and bigger goals, such as using LinkedIn more next year. I don’t think you need to limit yourself here (my Nice To-Do List currently has 21 items underneath my 2024 goals), and it’s where I keep things I still want to remember and do, but they aren’t allowed to distract me from my main goals for the year.

6. Plan Your Time Off (And Plan Your Travel)

Here’s the thing about me: I’m really terrible at taking time off. I end up getting super burnt out and stressed because I don’t give myself a break. It feels impossible to take time off when I have client and business commitments. So, what I’ve learned is to plan my time off before the year starts. You don’t have to figure out all the details, but having an idea of when you want to take a break and what your travel plans are for the next year can be really helpful.

This is important for my business because I work with many one-on-one clients who are launching online courses. I don’t want to have a launch every week of the year. It becomes overwhelming and makes it difficult to travel or take vacations. For the sake of survival, I find it necessary to plan time off in advance. It also helps maintain a balanced schedule without back-to-back commitments that can spiral out of control.

Speaking from experience here – last year, about a year ago, we unexpectedly had like a marathon of visitors coming to see us. We had just moved into a new house, which was a lot of work and consumed all of our time. From September until the end of the year, we had someone visiting us from out of town every single weekend, which was quite overwhelming. It felt like you had no breathing room outside of work. That’s why I find it so important to plan my time off in advance.

For this step, I simply brain dump again. Where do we want to travel? What prior commitments do we have? I then put everything on the calendar to visualize our desired trip dates and any extra time off needed. Throughout the year, I also make note of times when I feel burnt out. For instance, I often notice it in March. It’s a significant stretch after the holidays without any major time off, only a few minor holidays like President’s Day and Martin Luther King Day. To avoid getting overly burnt out, I always aim to take some time off around March or April.

writing out 2024 goals

7. Communicate With Your Partner

And now, onto step number seven – communicate with your partner. Whether it’s your significant other or other family members, share your goals for the year and ask them about theirs. For my husband and me, this often means having a special date night. However, this year, with a little one, we’ll be ordering takeout and enjoying it at our dining room table. We’ll dedicate this time to discussing everything I just covered in this episode. 

To give you an example, some of the things I want to talk about specifically this year is childcare. What is our ideal situation for that? Where do we want to live within the next year? Other long-term plans.

And personally, I prefer being prepared when it comes to this step. That’s why it’s step number seven. Starting with this step might be easier for you, especially if you have someone you enjoy brainstorming and discussing goals with.

My husband, however, isn’t as much of a fan of goal setting. It tends to drain him, and his thought process just works differently. So, for us, it works better if I think about what I want, identify areas where I’m stuck, and outline what I need to discuss. Then, during our date night, he can assist me with brainstorming on the spot, share his own aspirations for the upcoming year, and together we can build a plan for the year ahead.

8. Put Your 2024 Goals Where You’ll Remember Them

And the final step, step number eight, is to finalize your goals and place them somewhere memorable. After all the reflection work, I have my official Google Doc for the upcoming year, with my 2024 goals and planning documents still open. 

So let’s recap – at the top, I have listed all of my goals, including a section for financial goals. I have also outlined our travel plans for the year, including different trips and staycation ideas for when people come to visit. On top of that, I have a nice to-do list with various things I would like to achieve. 

It is important to place this list in multiple spots to help remember what your goals are. Setting goals is one thing, but remembering them can be a challenge. We have all experienced that situation where we set New Year’s goals or resolutions, only to forget where we wrote them down three months later. Or worse, we find them at the end of the year and realize we completely forgot about them. One of my key strategies in life is to have as many reminders as possible about my goals.

So I have my 2024 Google Doc bookmarked at the top of my computer. It’s also the default tab when I open a new one, so I see my goals all the time. It’s a simple way to keep them in mind and put it on autopilot. I open new tabs frequently, so it works well for me.

Next, I’m going to create a dream board with these goals. My husband and I have a bulletin board in our bedroom where we display various dream board items. I’ll turn these goals into images and put them up in our bedroom as a reminder to achieve them. At the start of each month, I also take time to review my goals, checking on progress, achievements, and any overlooked items. This way I make sure that one of my goals doesn’t lose priority and get left behind.

looking at 2024 goals daily

Added Accountability for my 2024 Goals This Year

This year, I want to publicly share my goals to hold myself accountable. I’m planning to do a podcast episode next week, right after this one, where I’ll share my 2024 goals. It feels a bit vulnerable to share goals, but I find it inspiring when others do it, and I also believe that it helps with accountability. Throughout the year, I’ll update my blog and maybe this podcast to track my progress and keep myself accountable. Not achieving all the goals you set out to do is normal—I didn’t accomplish everything in 2023, but I believe having a process and spending time thinking about goals is powerful. And I’m excited to share that with you!

Let’s Recap the Steps to Choosing Your 2024 Goals

  1. Start Early
  2. Do a Braindump of Potential 2024 Goals
  3. Reflect on the Last Year
  4. Narrow Your List Down to 3-5 Goals For The Year
  5. Underneath Each Goal, Create a Few Action Items or Bullet Points 
  6. Plan Your Time Off (And Plan Your Travel)
  7. Communicate With Your Partner
  8. Put Your Goals Where You’ll Remember Them

I hope this episode was helpful for you. I’m so excited! We’re heading into goal-setting season, and I’m almost done finalizing my 2024 goals. I’m really close! I think I’ll take some time to go to a coffee shop and enjoy a delicious latte, maybe a gingerbread latte or something festive. Afterward, I’ll share a podcast episode where I’ll talk about my plans and what I aim to achieve next year. Stay tuned!

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