Why I’m Creating Progressive Goals This Year (And How You Can Too)

Why I’m Creating Progressive Goals This Year (And How You Can Too)

Today is January 2nd.

There are only two types of people on the first few days of the year: those who have created goals for the new year and those that haven’t.

In a couple of weeks, that will change. There will be three:

  1. Those that didn’t create any goals at all (“Nah, I’m good”)
  2. Those that created goals and are sticking with them (and posting them on Instagram)
  3. Those that have crumpled up their list of goals and thrown them into the trash, as they go back to watching TV and eating donuts (“Only 355 days until next year!”)


A Recipe For Goal Disaster

When it comes to the complex relationship between Shawn and goals, there are two things you need to know — 1) I’m a natural optimist and 2) my brain is ADHD wired.

Put those two together and I usually make goals that are way too big and I lack the discipline to follow through with them anyway.

That’s why I’ve never been great with goal-setting in the past, even though I’ve tried really hard.

Recently, I’ve been thankful for books like Jon Acuff’s Finish, that has a lot of practical tips in this area of accomplishing what we set out to do.

I read it a few months ago and highly recommend it. Solid book, super entertaining, chock full of mindset-shifting ideas and freedom from goal-quitting guilt.

It definitely got me thinking more about why I fail so often with goals.

I’m so optimistic that I tend to lay out an insurmountable but idealistic goal that would require the perfect settings and a more perfect me.

So, it’s usually been Set, Fail, Wait, Repeat.

Until this year.


Progressive Goals

This year I’m doing things a little bit differently.

I’m going to use Progressive Goals.

“What are Progressive Goals?”, you ask?

I’m calling them progressive because, instead of laying out something for “the year”, I’m laying out goals (daily, weekly, monthly) just for January.

I’m starting with goals that are slightly ahead of where I am right now. Goals just for the next month ahead, no more. My plan is to aim to meet those for January and then bump them up again heading into February. And so on.

Some are daily goals (such as drinking a certain amount of water for the day) while others are weekly or monthly.

For example, in the area of fitness I’m currently… okay, I’m actually doing almost nothing right now for fitness. Basketball here and there, but that’s it.

In the past I might have gone from nothing to exercising 5 days a week (in my goal world, mind you). Although that might be possible, schedule-wise, it’s just not going to be sustainable.

So, this year, I’m looking at my current state and picking something that’s currently just out of reach but will get me moving.

One fitness goal is to go from my current state to doing 25 push-ups and sit-ups each day.

I know, I know. Sounds ridiculously easy to most. But, here are four reasons why I like this goal:

  1. There are no excuses for why I can’t do it. No unforeseen scheduling issues or other conflicts should impact it
  2. I have everything I need to do it. Hands, triceps, abs, body weight, floor. Check. Check. Check. Check. And Check.
  3. It’s an easy goal to stack on top of. The plan would be to at least get going with this over January and then bump at for February or even earlier if I feel like it.
  4. There’s nothing about it that sounds too idealistic. Really. It’s just 25 push-ups. But it IS something and something that I need to jump up to.


Get Started

So, what about you? If you’re not a goal setter, I challenge you to try setting a few for the next month. Seriously, if I  can do it, anyone can (do I need to remind you of my eternal optimism and ADHD brain).

Or, if you’re someone who has given up on goal-setting because you usually set the bar too high and continually fail, I urge you to try Progressive Goals.

Here’s how to start… today:

  • Pick a category. Here are some of mine: FAMILY, FINANCES, FAITH, FITNESS, FUN (yes, I have goals for having fun), HEALTH, GROWTH
  • Under one of these categories, just think of some area that you’d like to grow in. Common goals tend to be around health and fitness this time of year, but yours could be spending more time with your kids or getting out of debt or organizing your sock drawer (trust me, I’ve seen it… actually, might be too big a goal at this point 🙂
  • Now, for the tricky part. Set a goal only for this next month that is achievable. You need a win in this area, some encouragement. Something to stretch you but that can get you on track.
  • Then, either at the end of the month (or earlier if you’re feeling good), bump the bar up. Make that the new goal.
  • Track your progress

You can write these goals on paper and tape them up on your mirror to see every morning. Or create a spreadsheet with daily boxes you can check off (for something like drinking 3 glasses of water each day or running 2 miles or cutting down on your screen time).

I love to have something to check off, to keep it visual. But do what’s going to work for you.

And to make it even better, find ways to reward yourself or congratulate yourself. That could be buying yourself a little gift or doing something special. Anything like that.

So, I’d love to know your goal-keeping secrets.

What have you found to work best for you? And what are some of your goals for this year?

Let me know in the comments below…