Here’s My Personal 3 Step Process for Setting Courageous New Year’s Goals

An original oil painting of a still life with red,pink,yellow and white roses and a silver tea pot by Kelli Folsom

Lately, there’s been talk of how goals don’t work. How you shouldn’t bother setting goals but instead you should focus on habit building. That without habits goals don’t matter. Ummm okay. I don’t agree with that at all. If you set a goal and you don’t work towards it you won’t achieve it. Duh. Yet, habits without a larger reason or a longer-term goal can become drudgery. Without a bigger vision and emotional drive of a goal habits alone depend on will power. The real power lies in the combination of both deep vision and habits to achieve them. 

I’m a big lover of goals and they’ve served me well since 2011 when I graduated from art school and knew I wanted to make it as an artist. With no one but me to hold me accountable, I knew I needed a goal setting system to guide me. Without goals, I’d be a wandering ship lost at sea at the mercy of random external forces. And there’s nothing at all romantic about that. (You can bet that I hate that quote “All who wander are not lost.”) 

There’s nothing more rewarding than looking back at goals I’ve written down one or two years ago and seeing that I accomplished them! It gives me a feeling of confidence and power. So I want to share my goal-setting process with you in this new year. I hope it helps bring you clarity and closer to your goals. 

Step 1 – Overview of Last Year 

As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” 

This is a review of the good, bad, and the ugly of the last year. What worked great? What didn’t? What sucked? What did I learn? What am I taking with me and what am I leaving behind in 2020? 

Take a lot of time to reflect and journal all this. Take it in. Celebrating the victories. Letting go of resentments and forgiving anyone (including yourself). Sometimes I’ll actually burn the failures, defeats, and hurts up if I need an extra push of letting go. 

Step #2 – Assess Last Years Goal Progress

I look at my goals from the previous year. Did I meet, exceed, or fall short of them?

What contributed to that? If I fell short, why did that happen? If I exceeded them, what contributed to that? I take the time to journal out all my answers. It’s important for me to know what was successful so I can use that tool again in the coming year. If I fell short it’s important to look at why. Was I playing it safe? Was I scared to get out of my comfort zone? Was I afraid to let go of money to invest in myself or my career? If I succeeded was it because I got qualified help in the areas that needed improvement? Did I form new habits, create new routines or systems that led to success? 

Warning this can be painful. It’s a hard look in the mirror and can reveal weaknesses and limiting beliefs that you still need to conquer. Truth is painful, but it will also set you free. 

Step #3 – Project into the Future

After I do both of the reviews I have a better understanding of where I am. I know now what efforts I made that fulfilled me the most and where I wasted time and energy.  Now I want to find out where I want to go. Who do I want to be on December 31st, 2021? 

So sit quietly and project yourself forward to New Years’ Eve 2021. Where are you? What are you doing? How did your year go? 

Journal all this and let it all out. Don’t censor yourself. Let it flow. You’ve tilled the soil of your heart with the last two exercises and now you’re ready to plant some seeds. 

Most important, ask yourself how you want to feel on New Year’s Eve 2021? Write down 1-3 words to describe how you want to feel. This word, this emotion, is the fuel in your tank on the days that are hard. On those days or moments fill your word in these blanks. “How would someone _____________respond to this?” or “How would my _________ self show up?”

Clarity + Emotion + Courage will lead you to achieve more than you ever dreamed possible. 

I’m wishing you all a very happy, healthy, prosperous new year. Most of all I wish you to reach your full potential for the good of everyone.

P.S. You may not know that I’m not only an artist, but I’m also an art teacher. I help other artists reach their full artistic potential and improve their painting skills without paying thousands of dollars to attend art school even if they don’t have a ton of time to paint. 

Enrollment is open right NOW for my online membership program, VITAL Art Sessions! But it’s only open until January 15th and spaces are limited. So if you’re ready to go after those painting goals in 2021 hardcore, then go here to SIGN UP and become the artist you know you can be:

VITAL Art Sessions is so much more than monthly video lessons. If you’re looking to study with an inspiring mentor and leader that truly cares about your progress then I invite you to join us online. Click here to learn more:

Love in Light, Kelli

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