Whether you are for or against New Year’s Resolutions, there’s no doubt that the New Year can bring a breath of fresh air and energy to redefine or realign your priorities.

For the last couple of years, I’ve embraced a practice that works really well for me, a practice that pushes me beyond resolutions, which can be too rigid or big to feel achievable. In December and early January, I make a list of 100 small goals for the year. I work to ensure that the goals span all areas of my life that matter most to me, such as spiritual, social, marriage, family, professional, and creative. By brainstorming a list of 100 achievable and realistic goals – like “try a new recipe” or “write a post for a new platform” or “visit a friend in San Francisco” – I’m able to map out priorities for the year in a really practical way.

If you can’t get yourself out of the big dramatic goal practice, here’s a tip. When you think about your goal, what is the very first step? A step you could take tomorrow – without a lot of preparation or planning? Maybe you can’t imagine losing 25 pounds this year (not that I think you should, but this is such a common “resolution.”), but you can imagine yourself taking a walk after dinner, going to a CrossFit class, or trying kale chips instead of potato chips for lunch. All new habits start with trying something once and then twice, and all big changes are really the accumulation of small changes over time.

Here are some other examples of mini-goals and how they might shape out on your list:

Changing Careers

  • Go on 5 informational interviews
  • Update my resume/LinkedIn profile
  • Research a new industry
  • Learn a new skill


Spending More Quality Time with Family

  • Take a random day off from work with the kids
  • Visit Storyland
  • Buy a box to put iPhones during dinner


Write a Book

  • Research literary agents
  • Sign up for a writing class
  • Create a chapter outline


Mini-goals are a way to operationalize the bigger changes you hope to see in your life – and increases your chance of actually seeing those changes happen. The great thing about mini-goals is that you can feel a sense of accomplishment a lot faster, which builds momentum. For me, the little taste of something new gives me energy to keep going until those new habits are formed.


Sometimes the brainstorming process itself illuminates the bigger changes I’m contemplating. One year, I kept coming up with little ideas about writing, which told me that I wanted writing to be a bigger part of my life, ultimately leading to transitioning my professional role as well. The themes that emerge in your list of 100 can add up to a new direction, decision, or change – that you might not even know you are considering.


Finally, the recovering perfectionist in me benefits from the mini-goal approach. Last year, I made one of my mini-goals: Don’t do everything on this list. With a list of 100, you can be pretty sure you’ll look back and find at least 20 you accomplished. And the list will probably remind you of 20 other unplanned accomplishments that didn’t make the list.


What mini-goals will go on your list this year?