Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? I don’t. Instead I set goals using a system I developed to help keep me focused.
I used to sit down every year and make out a list of things I wanted to accomplish during the coming year. But one year it finally dawned on me that I’d been making the same list over and over…and over. You’ve probably made one that’s similar.
The typical New Year’s Resolutions list
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Reduce debt and save more money
- Improve relationships with family and friends
I bet there are a lot of lists out there that are virtually identical to this one. In fact, a Nielson survey revealed how common these resolutions are.
So I decided a few years ago to quit making resolutions – they didn’t do any good anyway so why bother?
Set goals instead of making resolutions
But I do still set goals for myself. I believe that’s a healthy and productive thing to do. It also helps me stay focused on what I want to accomplish.
The system I use to set my goals is one I came up with several years ago. I’m a big reader and I always had some self-help book on the nightstand. I’d devour books on goal setting, becoming your best self, and so on. My nickname could have been “She who eternally seeks to get her act together.”
Now whether I’ve managed to get my act together or not is still up for debate. But I do know this for certain – my act is in better shape than it would be if I didn’t use this system.
So after reading here and there and putting pieces into practice I finally came up with a system that borrowed one idea and merged it with another suggestion till it finally morphed into its current form. The system is PRIME.
PRIME is an acronym that stands for the 5 parts that I believe make up an individual’s life. These 5 areas sum up the major life components.
What is PRIME and how can I use it to set goals?
P is for Physical. We all know that our health is important and that it’s the foundation for everything else we do in life. My use of the term “Physical” definitely incorporates health. But as I’d read various books in my pursuit, I’d see health books in one area of the bookstore and beauty books in another. But our physicality is all encompassing – after all, it’s hard to look good if you don’t feel good, and vice versa.
So with this system, the Physical aspect includes health, beauty, and fashion. If it goes IN your body, ON your body, or helps you take CARE of your body, I include it in this area.
I’m done setting the goal, “lose weight.” However, I do set specific goals concerning my physical self. This year I intend to increase my water intake and my activity level because both will improve my health. There are a couple of routine maintenance things I need to do as well – get a colonoscopy and mammogram. These tasks aren’t goals but are action steps to help me take charge of my health.
A second important aspect of our lives is our relationships. Now I must make a confession here. I tend to be a workaholic and I’m very much an introvert. I tend to (okay, not tend, but definitely) avoid social situations and I have to be reminded that personal relationships need nurturing.
I know that’s foreign to lots of people. I’ve been through True Colors (I’m as green as they come) and taken the Myers-Brigs several times (I’m an INTJ) and have finally come to understand and accept some truths about myself. The truth is that while people are important to me, I have to intentionally put effort into relationships because I get so focused on tasks I’ve set for myself.
So I set the goal of improving the relationships in my life. To do this I’ve broken it down and set monthly action steps like, “go on a date with hubby each week” or “invite a set of friends over for dinner each month” or “text friends who live far away”. If I don’t, it would be easy to look up months later and wonder where everyone went.
To some, these actions would be as natural as breathing. But I’m not perfect and this is an area I can struggle with if I’m not careful.
I is for our Inner Self. I think this includes a lot of things – everything from your intellectual development, creativity, spirituality, career goals, etc.
Right now I am very focused on completing the transition from educator to blogger/writer. Last year was a great start and a lot of positive things happened, but I know it’s only a beginning. This is actually the easiest area for me to set goals for myself (it’s because of that green and INTJ personality).
So in addition to setting yearly goals for my blog and fiction writing, my monthly goals in the Inner Self area are to get email hooked up to this blog, finish developing my opt-in offer, to finish a couple of courses I’ve signed up for, and to complete the rewriting of a short story to turn it into a novella. Yep, those are a lot of goals for this area. And I might not get all of them done. But I’d rather set high goals and not get all of them completed than to aim low and not challenge myself.
Another important facet of our life is that of Money, or taking care of our financial health. It’s probably pointless to set a goal of “save $50,000 this year” or “win the lottery.” But it is possible to set achievable goals. Mine are to check the financial records each month to track progress in this area and to be conscious (and cautious) in my spending. Those may seem like little things but they’ll help achieve the overall goal of becoming more financially secure. I also want to look at my Christmas spending and set aside money each month so that next December is less of a hit to the bank account.
The last area is that of Escape. This area combines the advice of different gurus into one area that encompasses reducing your stress, making time for fun and relaxation, and traveling. In other words, Escape is all of those that help you enjoy life and that make your life worth living.
I’ve written before about the importance of being intentional when it comes to bringing joy into your life. It’s too easy to sit back and wait for the good stuff in life to just magically appear. Goals in this area don’t have to be huge or expensive. But if you don’t take purposeful steps to have fun, enjoy life, and relax, you’ll end up physically and emotionally depleted. No one wants to be so burned out that they feel like a piece of charred bacon.
My goals in this area are small, but important to me. They include doing something fun each week and not letting myself get so stressed out that I’m about to snap. Those little joy jolts can be the difference between a person who is relaxed enough to handle life’s curve balls and one who is stretched to the breaking point.
The photo of the calendar above shows how I use PRIME in my monthly calendar to keep me focused on my goals. I tend to be an “out of sight, out of mind” person so a list tucked away in a drawer somewhere is absolutely no use to me. I need daily reminders.
Using the PRIME system may help you to focus on the different areas of your life. It works for me and I’ve tried lots of systems over the years.
So, do you sit down periodically and set goals for yourself? What has helped you be successful?