Around here, we think about goal planning at the end of the year. But whether you’re planning for success on January 3rd, June 15, or October 27, we hope our goal setting tips help you get exactly what you want out of life and out of your career. We also hope that no matter your creative path, that you’ll find these helpful in mapping out your plans and keeping track of them throughout the year.

The first time you do this will feel a bit ellaborate but after a couple times, it will quickly become second nature.

Some tools you will need

Something to jot down doodles/brainstorm. A lot. We use a combination of whiteboards and blank paper.

  • A journal – we recommend a new one for each year.
  • A paper planner
  • A digital planner – we like Google Suite and ASANA
  • Great pens, markers, highlighters
  • Custom planner pages (optional) – we used Canva to create ours

Step 1: Brainstorm F-ing everything about what you want your career and life to be.

There’s a lot of ways to go about this. And we think you should spend several days and a couple of different methods to really find out what you want. Because there’s good brainstorming and then there’s really-really good brainstorming.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Write down or draw your perfect day 5, 10, and 15 years into the future. Be as specific as you can. What’s the date? What do you eat that day? Who do you talk do? What car are you driving? What do you wear? What city are you in? Who texts you? Do you work out? Do you hug someone? Write down all of it.
  • Write down or draw everything that’s going wrong and stressing you the F out. What work drama are you dealing with? What personal drama—yours or someone else’s—are you dealing with? What do you hate about your job? What everyday things annoy you? Where do you lose time during the day? Be as real and as honest with yourself as possible about everything “going wrong” in your life.
  • Write down or draw everything that you want to change. Wish you were 20 lbs lighter? Wish you had more sleep? Wish you would get more done during the day? Wish you didn’t have so much clutter? Wish you didn’t have so many bills to pay? Wish you had more time for friends? Wish you made more money? Wish you read more books? Wish you had more time to yourself? Wish you went on more vacations or went to cool places? Whatever those desires are—be they material goods like cars and shoes or experiences like quality time with your kids—write them all down.
  • Write down or draw everything that makes you happy. Does being around certain smells make you happy? Does having a tidy home make you happy? Does sunshine and being outside make you happy? Does sleep make you happy? Does hanging out with your friends make you happy? Does spending time with family make you happy? Does spending time alone make you happy? Does traveling make you happy? Do people or things make you happy? One caveat about this list: this isn’t a list for what do you think or what do you wish will make you happy. It’s a list of things or people or stuff that already make you happy.

Stress affects each of us both physically and mentally. So the important thing about brainstorming and creating these lists is that you get a clear picture of everything affecting your total life and your mental health. What needs to change for the better, what needs to get cut, and what needs to stay exactly the same. So it’s critical that whether you’re a doodle maker, vision board creator, or an author of lists you’re really specific and honest with yourself about the state of your life.

Step 2: Understand your time/money relationship.

If you haven’t already realized this: time does not equal money. Time is more valuable than money.
While it may not feel like it at times, money is a renewable resource. Through work and investment, you can theoretically replenish your money.

Unless you have a flux capacitor lying around, you never get your time back.

That’s why it’s really important to understand just how much your time is worth. That way you are more consciously aware of when and how it’s being wasted. So put a value on your time.

There are 24 hours in a day. 7 days a week. And 52 weeks a year.

Which means there are 8,736 hours in a year.

You will theoretically spend 2,730 hours asleep if you’re sleeping 7.5 hours every night.
(Most adults need between 6 and 9 hours of sleep to function properly.)
That means you have 6006 every year or 16.5 hours a day to do everything else.

Calculate it for yourself. Then have a little fun figuring out how much time you spend eating, sleeping, working, getting ready in the morning, and driving. We have. It’s different for every person, but if you have a demanding personal life, chronic illness, or just sleep a lot—it’s a wake-up call to realize how little time you actually have. To help you, we created a Google Spreadsheet template you can use.

Why is Step 2 and understanding the time/money relationship important? Time is finite. And you need to choose how you use it in a way that helps you achieve your goals, understand which time sacrifices to make each day, and how to align this precious resource to what makes you happy.

Step 3: Find the patterns and common themes.

This is a bit tricky. For this step, you’re re-brainstorming. You need to go back through your notes/drawings and look for the things that are similar and group them together. For example, if getting more sleep and losing more weight is on your list those might be grouped together under “self-care.” Things directly related to money, like earning or saving more, spending less, would all likely go under their own category. You also want to identify things that overlap categories. For example, paying your bills on time could be related to money but it could also go under productivity if the burden isn’t whether you have enough but whether you actually are remembering to do it.

Step 4: Find what flows and what create bottlenecks.

Some things are dependent on other things. Changing one thing here might screw things up over there. Some stuff is just totally out of your control. So this step is really looking at how these goals all relate and the effects that have on each other. What you’re really trying to find in doing this is a priority order. Say for example your goals include landing investors for your film, getting cast in a lead role, a promotion at work, earning more money, or just getting more sleep.

Step 5: Identify what you can directly measure

Earning more money and spending less of it are two things you can measure. So is getting more sleep. Happiness is not something you can directly measure. You can measure happiness indicators but not happiness itself. Similarly, you can’t actually quantify stress. You can really only measure indicators of stress, how often you’re late to meetings, or how many days a week you wake up late, how often you’re rushing to get something done. Those are things you can quantify.

Step 6: Pick your goals & order them

Choose 4 to 7 goal categories that if you conquer them you’re closer to getting exactly what you want in life. Then choose 5-8 goals under those categories. These need to be measurable goals.

Now order the goals by their effect. Is there a goal that if you achieve it makes achieving the other goals easier? That should be at the top of your list. Then order your categories in the same way.

Step 7: Write it all down and commit to it

We like starting each year out with a brand new journal and writing down our new goals list on the first pages. Throughout the year, we use the journal to track progress by writing daily, weekly and monthly reviews. We also use a paper planner to track progress and stay focused and take steps. We also take steps to make sure that our digital planning matches what we do on paper.

In the days and weeks to come, we’ll talk about how to review your goals so that you stay on track.

Let us know how you plan to get exactly what you want.

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