how to set goals

The EASIEST Goal Planning Strategy To Make Your Dreams A Reality In Exactly One Year

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goal planning strategy

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At the beginning of each year, I become the old grandma that you want to avoid at Thanksgiving dinner. You know, the one that’s constantly asking you "how's school going" (when you spent way too much time drinking and may have to drop a class or two) and the unavoidable “what’s next for you” question you’ve been ducking by quickly stuffing some turkey in your mouth.

My favorite question to ask by far is not the typical “What are your new year’s resolution?” No, it catches people much more off guard than that.

I have the audacity to ask people something they have not thought about at all…

What’s your plan to do that?

You see, I’ve learned one thing about New Year’s Resolutions (and goals in general). People LOVE setting goals at the beginning of the year but they don’t create their plan at the beginning of the year.

However, if you add this one, simple step to your goal setting process, you’ll be able to better determine what you need to do to accomplish your goal.

Thinking about your goal in terms of the goals you have to accomplish on  a quarterly basis and then breaking that down further into the smaller goals you must accomplish monthly does a few things for your brain:

  • It let’s you know that your big goal IS POSSIBLE.
  • It helps you understand EXACTLY WHAT IT WILL TAKE TO GET THERE
  • It puts you in a mindset that your goal will be accomplished OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR

That third point is the most important because it transforms your mindset from having a goal – to having a long term goal that you are not prepared to dedicate yourself to.

Now let’s get to the fun part… How do you break down your large goal into quarterly goals and then monthly goals?

Before you get started breaking down your goal, you need to have one LARGE goal to work with. If you're still nailing down your big goal (or still searching for some mental clarity in your vision, check out How To Create Your 5-Year Vision (even if you don’t know where to start)

Once you have your big goal, it's time to break it down into the tiny steps you'll make over the next year to make this your best year ever.



As a child, I was a serious gamer. (I actually had an entire birthday party where I asked my friends to show up with their Gameboys to play Pokemon together.) I would get super excited when I hit a checkpoint and now I could do no wrong in the game. No matter what I did, I was not going back to square one.

Think about your quarterly goals like a checkpoint in a video game. Once you've crossed one of these large hurdles, you're well on your way to completing your goal. 

What four huge milestones do you have to hit to be able to accomplish your goals at the end of the year?

For Example, if you want to write a book you may want to:

  • Quarter 1: Create the book outline and the characters.
  • Quarter 2: Write the first draft of the book.
  • Quarter 3: Get feedback.
  • Quarter 4: Write the final version of the book.

(Side note: Before you legit writer’s start judging, please know that this is my loose – very loose – interpretation of what it would take to write a book. I understand everyone’s process is different.)

Now that you know exactly what you want to do for each quarter of the year, you have already achieved one massive benefit: You don’t have to focus on everything all at once. That means that while you’re creating your outline, you don’t have to concern yourself with writing the book. In fact, you can clear your mind of the next steps entirely because you know exactly what you will do – and when you’re going to do them.



With three months in each quarter, we’re going to take the quarterly goals and break them down further into three bite-sized goals.

Let’s take the Quarter 1 Goal from the first example.

Quarter goal: Create the book outline and develop characters

  • January: Create the outline for the book
  • February: Develop the plot, conflict and scene
  • March: Describe the characters look and personalities

By breaking your goals down in this way you can celebrate your small wins each month, while still having a legitimate plan to get to the rest of your goals. You can also work on one goal without the pressure of feeling like you have to do "it all" right now.

With that mental weight off your shoulders you can fully immerse yourself into what you're working on right now. You can slowly think through exactly how you want your book to flow (or start your weight loss journey with eating one less piece of fresh-baked sugar cookies or reclaim your time by NOT letting Netflix force you into an additional episode of Stranger Things) knowing that you'll get to the next step of the process shortly. #GoodLuckWithThat


Taking some time to develop your largest goal into an annual plan will help you map out your goals and ensure that you complete them by the end of the year.

Happy Goal-Crushing!




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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.

How To Turn Your LARGE Goal Into A Super Legit Action Plan


Ready To Create Your Five Year Vision?


Grab this simple workbook that walks you through my step-by-step self exploration process to create your miraculous five-year vision! Enter your email to subscribe to the newsletter and grab the freebie!

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Are you one of those people that starts looking around in December wondering wtf you're going to do next year? In your head you know that you want this year to be different than the last, you want to break from your shell, do something EPIC... but you don't really now where to start. 

My first year doing a vision board was something like that...

I didn't know what I wanted to accomplish. Heck, I didn't even know what I was capable of. (At that time, I had only successfully accomplished a worthless degree, years of waitressing jobs and overall failing at adulting.) 

However, that was the year I was determined to turn my little sinking ship of life around and (even though I had no idea what I was going to do) I created an action plan that would ultimately help me figure it out. 



Your pie in the sky goal (I also like to call this your dream goal) is a goal that is very large if you look at it from where you currently are. This is a goal that you'll need to step out of yoru comfort zone to reach. You might have to learn a new skill or leverage the help of a team to do something that you've never done before. This is a goal that, over the course of a year will stretch you. 

In my life the goal was simply to stop failing and figure out what I wanted. I planned on pursuing this to the fullest extent of my abilities and with all of my time.

When you've been doing the same thing over and over again for years, it can be hard to find a different version of yourself that is actually succeeding. However, if you take some time to believe that you can achieve more than you currently have, you'll get there. 



You can't eat your great-grandma's sweet potato pie in one bite... and you wouldn't try to conquer a large goal all at once either. (I know, I'm so corny, but it's true!) Reaching this large goal can seem very daunting, but to make it more manageable (and easier to navigate) you'll want to break that goal down into small pieces. These mini-goals are smaller goals that serve as checkpoints on the way to achieving your overall goal. 

In my example where I wanted to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, my mini goals would be to: 

  1. Take classes in different areas to decide what professions interested me. 
  2. Join meetup groups to start networking in different industries. 
  3. Choose a graduate program to continue my education.



You'll notice that each of these "mini-goals" are relatively large in itself. That's a good thing! Your mini goals can be broken down even further to the daily action items you'll need to make in order to move forward on the goals. 

In my example, to take classes in the different areas to see what professions interest me, I would have to: 

  1. Research free and paid courses that would expose me to new areas.
  2. Register for a new class and put effort into taking the classes and practicing the exercises and doing the homework. 
  3. Re-evaluating how I felt about the program and the field as a whole. 
  4. Determing whether I wanted to continue taking more of these classes or try out a different professional program. 

Not only is the work of learning about different programs tedious, it would require me to continuously walk down paths, conquering challenges and learning new things with no idea whether it would be a worthwhile journey. However, these are necessary steps to follow if I wanted to figure out what I was good at. 

Breaking your mini goals down into smaller action items will help you see the smaller, daily actions you can to take to make your dreams a reality. That way you can start implementing them in your life asap!

The new year is a great time to re-evaluate where you are in your life and where you want to go. Starting your year off with a large goal will put you in a great position to crush your year!


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How To Set THE RIGHT Goals In Every Area Of Your Life

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.


How many times have you looked at your life only to realize that there are a TON of tiny, little things you have yet to pay attention to. 

For example... 

  • Your back has been hurting for about 6 months (but it's not THAT bad)
  • You haven't called your wonderful great grandmother (but you SWEAR you'll get to it soon!)
  • Your room (over the last few weeks) has become a hot mess - so bad you don't know where to start
  • AND.... you kinda have to make more of an effort in your work (because you've been slipping)

Sound familiar? 

I hope not, because that's MY story right now (and to make matters worse, I could easily add 5 more, but I don't want to start a pity party on a goal-setting blog (Can I give myself a #SideEye?)).

The truth is, no matter who you are, it's pretty easy to get stuck in one of those life ruts where your life slowly (but oh-so-surely) becomes a mess over time. Balls get dropped. Sh!t hits fans. #LifeHappens 

After a while, it become the new norm... #OwnIt

But with each new day comes the opportunity to say "it's time to make a change" and actually make an effort towards changing the way you do things.

How do you know what goals will be BEST for you? Like anything else, it all starts with a plan. 


STEP #1: Self Assessment: Reflect on Every Area of Your Life

Your happiness hinges on several different areas of your life. (If you're a rockstar at work, but your family is falling apart, I highly doubt you're feeling completely fulfilled in your life.) There are five key areas I like to focus on: 

Educational/Professional Development
Personal Finance
Self Care

Start with thinking about the last twelve months of your life. If you had to rate every area of your life on a scale of 1 to 6 (six being super happy!) what would you rate your overall success in each one of these areas? 

Once you know quantify how you performed in each area, it's easier to see what areas in your life are high as a kite and which areas are suffering and need resuscitation.


Step #2: Make a list of fulfilling activities in each of these areas

Next, brainstorm which activities that make you feel like you are living your best life in each area. Imagine you were creating a highlight reel (or basically curate your social media feed) to showcase the best moments of each of these areas, what would you include?

For each area of your life, make a list of every activity that brings you happiness, joy and every random activity that you look back and think "why did we stop doing that?" These are the activities you'll want to try to incorporate into your life. 


Step #3: Decide on what you want to focus on

Now that you have a full list of all the things that you COULD do to make you happy in all areas of your life, it's time to decide what you're going to focus on. You may not want to do them all (because ain't nobody got time fo' that) but focus on a few activities in the areas that need serious improvement and the areas that you're most passionate about. 

For example, if you have an area of your life that's severely suffering because you've spent more time in the past focusing on other things, you may decide that it's time to give that priority. On the other hand, if you're deeply engrossed in one area of your life and are happily accelerating that, you may also make the decision to continue only focusing on that one area. 

The only thing you must do is make sure that you choose to focus on the areas in your life that are most important for you. 


Step #4: Intentionally decide on performing these activities (and put time on the calendar for them)

It's not enough to come up with the activities you want to accomplish - you must also plan on doing them and make time for them. Take out your trusty planner of choice (I use The Happy Planner) and take a look at when you will incorporate these activities into your life. 

First think about how often you'll do it. If you plan on taking a family trip, that that's likely something that will happen once in a year, but you want to also plan out time for planning the trip, researching the activities and booking everything. Put those things onto your calendar ahead of time. The moment you do this, it becomes real. 

If the task is more recurring, like date night with your s/o, then you'll want to put that time into your calendar, too. 

Next, think about what day of the week (and you can even get as granular as what time in the day you're going to take to make this happen). Giving your goals a time on your calendar makes it real - and you even start planning for making them happen. That's what makes them inevitable.


This approach to goal-setting takes into account every area of your life and gives you the chance to reflect on it and choose what's most important to you. Once you've made a decision on what's important and how you're going to enhance it, it's totally up to you to set the goals and create the change you want to see in your life

Happy Goal-Setting!



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