How To Strategically Plan and Set New Year Goals

With the start of a new year just around the corner, once again we’re all in “new year, new me” mode as we evaluate the past year and look ahead to the new one.

This is one of the best times of year as we’re able to relax, regain focus and narrow down exactly what things we would like to achieve. To maximize your ability to successfully achieve your goals, it’s best to break your year up into 90 day chunks (also known as quarters Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4) so that it’s more manageable and less overwhelming.

Everyone is different – but most people find that in the first 90 days of the year, they have the most focus and momentum. We’re in the honeymoon period of the new year when we are feeling happiest, most ambitious and most confident.

Once you achieve your goals for Q1 (a.k.a. the first 90 days of the new year), you’ll feel happy and confident enough to again tackle another set of goals for the second set of 90 days and so on and so on.

Here’s a tried and true goal-setting process you can try:

Review the past year

Ask yourself these questions to help evaluate the past year:

What goals did I achieve?

What things did I not achieve and why?

What is my biggest accomplishment?

What made me the happiest?

What relationships were most valuable?

Braindump of ideas

Throughout the year, I am always jotting down notes, ideas and reminders that I would like to look into or pursue in the following year. But, I’m guilty of not keeping everything in one place – I write ideas in my phone and in multiple notebooks. To get all of my ideas in one place, I spend an hour gathering everything I’ve written down on to one or two sheets of paper.


Create goals for various life categories

To ensure that your goals are well-rounded, jot down yearly goals for various life categories such as:

  • Family/Marriage
  • Personal Development
  • Spiritual
  • Health and Fitness
  • Career
  • Business
  • Community
  • Financial

Make your goals into SMART goals

Creating a SMART goal will increase your likelihood of achieving it because it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.

For example, I would like to receive 4 local guest speaking opportunities by December 2018 (1 speaking opportunity each quarter)

Specific: I am narrowing my focus to local opportunities, although if anyone wants to invite me to speak at their international event, I’m all for it!

Measurable: I’ve said that I don’t just want opportunities, I want to speak at least 3 times.

Attainable: In 2016, I spoke 3 times. I’m increasing that number by just one more which I know is attainable for me.

Realistic: Having spoke 3 times last year, I know that if I increase my self-promotion, it is realistic to say that I can increase my opportunities.

Time-bound: I’ve clearly stated that I want all 4 opportunities to happen by the end of the year.

Write out the action items

Once my goals are clear, it’s time to figure out how I will take action! I’ll use the same speaking goal as an example:

SMART goal: Receive 4 local guest speaking opportunities by December 2018 (1 speaking opportunity each quarter)

Action Items:

  • Create a Speaking page on my website (write the content, choose images + post on the site)
  • Update my resume, professional bio and LinkedIn
  • Create a Speaker’s Kit
  • Promote my ability to be a guest speaker on social media channels (create posts and pre-schedule them weekly)


Assign action items to each quarter and month

Now, this is the key to ensuring that your goal doesn’t overwhelm you. Here are my action items again but with a specific quarter and month assigned:

Q1 (January – March)

SMART Goals:

Obtain 1 local speaking opportunity


January Action Items:

Create a speaking page on my website

Update my resume, professional bio and LinkedIn profile

Create a speaker’s kit

Create social media promo images and pre-schedule them

Search for speaking opportunities and apply


February Action Items:

Search for speaking opportunities and apply


March Action Items:

Search for speaking opportunities and apply

Update speaking page with any new information from this quarter

Create your vision board

Is it strange that I like to leave my vision board as the last step? There is a method to my madness – I like my vision board to be as specific and intentional as possible. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the “fun” of creating a vision board – flipping through magazines and cutting out pretty pictures and inspirational words. But, I don’t want these pictures and words to be random and only on my board because they “look nice” – I want them to be a perfect reflection of what I will be working towards in the new year. Once I have my goals and action items set, I know exactly what I’m looking for in the magazines and to be honest, the process of creating my board is much quicker.

Well, there you have it – my planning and goal-setting process! If you’ve been struggling in this area, I hope that bits and pieces from my process will help you as you work towards your goals in the new year. But, with that being said…

You can download the Well-Planned New Year guide! These planning worksheets are completely free (and no email sign-up required!) and are designed to help you:

  • Evaluate your wins and shortcomings from the past year
  • Braindump your ideas so that they are all in one place
  • Organize your ideas and goals into specific life categories
  • Create specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound goals
  • List your action items for each SMART goal and assign a quarter and month for each one
  • Create an actionable and intentional vision board

Click the pink button below to download the sheets and get started on your planning! Be sure to use the hashtag #WellPlannedNewYear in your tweets and Instagram photos so I can see how you use them!




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  • Lisa
    December 31, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    You are INCREDIBLE! Such a timely, thoughtful and detailed post! I’m going to download your worksheets to plan my 2017. I especially like how you divide your goals into quarterly goals (if it makes sense). Thank you for posting this and listening to your readers!! 🙂

    Excited to see where 2017 takes your brand! You are on your way to doing great things!!


    • Chanele
      January 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Thank you Lisa! Please let me know how you find the worksheets! I just want all of us to be super successful in 2017 🙂