17 January 2016

Simple Goal Setting


Now is the time (a few days late but it's never too late to start) for the traditional 2016 resolutions and goal setting. This year, I would like to present a short, simple way to set a few goals for the upcoming year.

As I reviewed my 2015 goals and objectives I thought, why is it so easy to forget about these as we go about life ? Why is it so hard to keep up with goals we felt so motivated about at the beginning of the year?

There are many ways to answer that question, but sometimes goals aren't simple enough. Sitting on an armchair or at a desk, daydreaming about a perfect future self and set up romantic objectives is a very entertaining way to spend an afternoon, but it doesn't always help once we get into the everyday effort that comes with the objective.

So what about transforming these long-term ideal self aspirations into simple goals you can remember and follow throughout the year?

Setting simple goals

Here is my proposition for you:

  • 1. Define the "ideal" objective, the dreamed life part. How would this be in an ideal world?
  • 2. How different is this from where you stand now? Where can you start, a first step that you can take tomorrow, this month, this year?
  • 3. Turn this into a simple goal for 2016 

The ideal objective is here to dream, keep track of where we'd like to be in the future. It isn't futile as these hopes are what keep us motivated day to day. But it is easier to turn wishes and resolutions into action when there is a concrete goal coming out of all this.


Some of you work better with concrete solutions than abstract ideas, so here are some examples for you, in a variety of areas covered by the Nife.

Physical / Material area

  • Ideal objective: Live in a simple home, clean and organized, with only items I use everyday, high quality and adequate to my needs and taste
  • Current situation: I know my taste and preferences well so the latest objects I bought were adequate, but there is a lot to replace, and a lot to discard
  • Simple goal: Go over and discard items once a month - per room for example, or per item type (it is always easier to evaluate the states of your possessions once you have removed the unessential)

Other simple goal ideas: Have fun with your wardrobe and try new things every month with what you already own | Do a shopping fast at a critical moment of the year (right after sales for 6 months) to focus on the "own" and "discard" part of the consumption cycle | Set up a simple budget to follow each month...


Mental / Spiritual area

  •  Ideal objective: Know myself perfectly well, strengths and weaknesses alike, know what place to take in this society, understand my emotions well and be the best "me" I can be
  • Current situation: I have outlined what matters to me (writing, violin, my couple and friends) and understand my reactions and weaknesses better and better. But I still feel time is slipping away from me, and sometimes I wonder if I spend it well.
  • Simple goal: Set up a mindfulness habit. Start with little things like 2mn a day while brushing my teeth and extend it further each month until I try to implement a meditation habit. (mindfulness is the beginning of understanding oneself better and being more aware of each passing moment to tame that feeling that time is slipping away)

Other simple goal ideas: Visit an exhibit or museum or go to a concert/show once a month | Read at least one book a month (or two) | Make a "no internet" fast for a week-end and see where you spend your time...

Social Area

  • Ideal objective: Make some time for my friends and family, take the time to make new acquaintances and cultivate the relationships, organize more things and do a lot of little attentions for them. Be a more active listener who can be there for my close ones.
  • Current situation:  I have little time to myself, and being an introvert I prefer to spend that time resourcing myself alone. It isn't always easy for me to make the first step to contact people, and often I am too busy being in my own head to pay more attention to people.
  • Simple goal: Make myself go out at least once a week, either by accepting an invitation or by contacting someone myself. (ideally: set up that monthly reading club at home as I've wanted to for a year now)

Other simple goal ideas:  Join an association or club on a topic that matters to you | Find a charity to give either money or time to | Gather your friends or family a couple of times a year | Call one distand friend or family member each week-end...

Creative area

  • Ideal objective: Focus a lot of time and energy into creative projects, have all these things in my head become real, participate in projects with other people, get new ideas, have creativity be an active part of my life
  • Current situation:  I'm getting there as a lot of 2015 was dedicated to that - I joined a book reviewers club and writers forum and keep aying violin lessons. But on all fronts I feel I'm not spending enough time on these things and projects don't move forward as fast as I'd like.
  • Simple goal: Write at least one line every day. The first time of the day I feel like going on facebook or other social network, write a line instead.

Other simple goal ideas: Focus on a specific creative project that matters to you this year | Find an association or community around the craft/art that interests you | Start a blog to talk about your creative projects and how they are coming together...

I hope this simple goal idea will be of help to you for the upcoming year. Somehow it feels less daunting to focus on such a simple goal rather than the big picture, that requires time and energy to approch. What abut your 2016 goals? What will be your focus this year? Have you set simple goals to level up this year?


  1. Oooh if you want to go over your possessions, I really recommend the Marie Kondo method. It's much more in tune with your real desires and less with what you should and ought, and it strangely sticks -- your shopping habits really change.

    1. I've heard so much about Marie Kondo but still didn't read her book! I watched her google talk though and it did sound interesting. It's nice to know her method influes on shopping habits as well, thanks for letting me know :)

  2. I really like your way of looking at goals for the next year! I decided to have three 'main' goals and divided my concrete actions for these goals in monthly themes. It's my first year trying this out so I hope I will stick with it this year haha!

    1. That's a good idea too, to divide the goals in concrete actions to take each month,it is also a way to make it achievable as I guess your monthly objective is smaller than the overall goal :) I'd love to hear how it goes for you later in the year!

  3. "But I still feel time is slipping away from me, and sometimes I wonder if I spend it well." So true. I have an established meditation habit but I still feel I have a long way to go to feel comfortable where I am. I still have lots of doubts about whether I'm doing the best I can with my life, with what was handed to me ... These feelings of doubts have also really heightened since I turned thirty last year as I feel for some major decisions time is really running out ...

    1. Yes, I think your comment pretty much sums up how I feel at the moment. I'm also turning 30 this year and I feel like my time is being claimed by other people (employer etc.) - I do like my job, that's not the problem. I just feel there is so much I want to do but don't have time to, yet I don't even have children yet. And sometimes I question the choices and lifestyle Ihave. It also comes back to material purchases : if I spent less, I wouldn't need to earn as much and maybe I could make different professional choices... Sometimes it feels like we are in a big machine that makes us earn money, spend it so we need to earn more, etc. (sorry I didn't mean to digress like that!)

    2. I didn't mean to digress either, but I totally get what you mean. You have probably heard as well about John Keanes having predicted in the thirties that by now people would only need to work 15 hours a week to fulfill their material needs. And if our needs were still the same as in 1930 then this would probably be the case! Yet it's so hard to stop wanting all of those things: a comfortable and nice and roomy home, travels, fancy dinners with friends etc. Anyhow, didn't mean to start the year with a bummer. This year, I'll stop wanting meat and (unnecessary) new clothes. If anything, it's a start.

  4. I love the idea of Internet free weekends! i will do this. Weekends are my time for myself and I also struggle with spending time with others outside my home. I love keeping that time all to myself. Planning a phone call or lunch date will be another of my goals.

    1. Week-ends are a special moment to rest and recharge to me (and probably to many others) I understand that you'd want to keep it all to yourself, I'm a bit like that too, but usually once I'm with the friends I'm happy to have come. Having internet free week-ends here and there really frees some time for other things - at least for me, just browsing the regular sites and checking/answering e-mails takes quite some time! Good luck with your goals for 2016 :)

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