Set awesome 12 month goals with 8 simple questions


A couple of years ago on my 39th birthday I made up a list of things I wanted to do have done by my 40th one. I chose things that I could reasonably hope to achieve in the time frame but would still be enough of a stretch to motivate me to do something each week towards meeting the goals.

I wrote a blog post about it, 40 things to do before I turn 40. It’s still one of the most viewed posts on this website. I thought I’d offer a follow-up post for anyone interested in doing their own ’40 by 40′ list …. or 30 by 30, 50 by 50 etc.

It made for an interesting year, and I’m thinking of drawing up a new list for the next 12 months.

Have you made your own list of things you want to achieve in about a year’s time? I found it very motivating. You might too, if like me you have the kind of personality that really can’t get moving on something unless there’s a firm deadline and accountability.

Here’s how I decided what would go on my list:

  1. Think of something I wanted to try as a kid that I haven’t yet got around to doing – in my case, hot air ballooning!
  2. Think of a way to improve my most important relationships, preferably something that can become part of an ongoing routine. I looked to my deepest values here, and what gives my life its purpose and meaning. For me, that’s my relationship with God and my vocation as a wife and mother.
  3. Think of a place I’d like to travel to. I had to be realistic here, and to make the goal manageable I chose a short family road trip to Canberra that was already on the cards.
  4. Think of one big thing I’d like to buy, which relates to an important value, in my case, again, relationships.
  5. Think of one big thing I’d like to give to someone else. I had thought of making one big, spectacular donation to charity, maybe involving creating my own event or charity drive, but in the end it was logistically much more managable to piggy-back on regular traditions we already follow here, ie. charitable giving of goods and money during Lent and Advent, and just increased those. It had the same effects, so I was happy with that.
  6. Make a commitment to complete or move towards one big desire in life that has just hung around for years and decades and just won’t go away no matter what disruptions life has thrown at it. For me, this related to paid work and career development stuff and it was a good year for that, with a couple of awesome highlights. It’s still going slower than I’d like, and I haven’t got my own book out yet, which is what I really want, but I’m trying to enjoy my young family while it’s still young and just keep moving in that direction as much as I can without stressing over it (too much). 🙂
  7. Remember and revive one hobby or interest that used to bring me lots of joy but I haven’t given it any time for a while. I love dabbling in cooking and gardening but I tend to take time from these when I’m busy, which is something I wanted to remedy.
  8. Think of something that would just be cool to do. I wanted to have a go at creating an artwork on a canvas, and ended up making quite a pretty one with my eldest daughter for her friend’s birthday (pictured above).

Then I did three things:

  • I asked God what he thought of my list. Was there something I should add or take away? I also asked God to bless my efforts and to help me not take them too seriously. The whole idea of making setting a challenge like this was to help me to make decisions and be more intentional about appreciating the gift that is my life, my time, treasure and talents, my family, my faith, and my work. I didn’t want to obsess over the ‘list’ which is simply a tool, and miss the big picture.
  • Once  I had my list, I made it public. I had enlisted help from my husband and kids to make my list, then I told my parents and friends about my goals, and posted them here. That impelled me to make the effort to move through my list since I knew that people would be asking me about my progress.
  • I then reviewed my progress every couple of weeks. My list was long enough, and had items with enough planning required, to make sure I had to do something relating to a goal each week. Also, a year is a long time, and priorities might change or some items might lose their appeal completely.

If you’re creating your own 40 by 40 goals good luck with your list. I hope you have a great experience over the next 12 months making it a reality!

PS. If you want to follow me through my next 12 month goals, be sure to sign up using the email sign-up box in the below section.

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