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Putting Goals In Writing – Does It Make A Difference?

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve tried them before, and like most everyone, I slip back into my normal routine by the end of January and that is usually that.

But, last year about this time, I decided to try something new. As you may remember, the first week of January I wrote about my new idea of goal-setting plans Are New Years’ Resolutions Passé?

And I’d like to share some of my learnings and results this year as a way to potentially inspire you to try the same thing for 2021.

First of all, in my goal-setting routine for 2020, I set up categories (such as family, physical, personal, and travel). I broke the goals down to be as specific as possible, so I could measure them.

For example, in “physical,” I had goals for how many hours of sleep I wanted to average every night, my resting heart rate goal, how many times a week I would exercise, what type of exercise, and although I had a “weight loss” goal, it was a small part of my focus.

In the “personal” category, I listed how many books I planned to read/listen to, how many times I wanted to give blood, and how many handwritten notes I wanted to write during the year. These items are always important to me, but I was inconsistent in getting them done, so I figured establishing goals and then tracking them might make a difference.

In “family,” I had goals around how often I would spend time with both my daughters, my sister, my partner Jack (like dress-up dinners once a month).

And of course, I had vacation and travel goals … but those kind of got sidelined for the year due to COVID.

Then I bought a MONTHLY PLANNER for 2020 so I could record what I did each day. Now, I know what you are thinking, “Seriously, Karen, you are going to write down everything, every day? That sounds too tedious and hard!”


It was tedious, and it was hard to get into the habit. I cannot tell you how many times I realized that I had forgotten to write down how much sleep I got for an entire week, or what my workout was, but my goal was progress, not perfection. So, I learned to do hacks that would help me. I left my planner on the kitchen table so when I came into the kitchen each morning and each evening, I was reminded to update my calendar. Each weekend, my partner Jack and I would gently watch each other do our weekly totals on some of the categories, which inspired me to up my game many times. And then, on the first day of each month, we would do our totals for the previous month on one of the back pages of the planner for many of the categories.

I have to admit, the task of recording everything every day all year long was daunting. If I didn’t have such an aligned accountability partner, I know I would not have done as well. But having Jack, and then starting to see my own accomplishments and progress, was actually inspiring. And I think the results were amazing!

So, here is a little tease to whet your appetite (final results for 2020 will be tallied on January 1):

  1. Goal: To complete a 5K and a 10K. Result: I completed two half-marathon (13.1 miles each)!
  2. Goal:  Do a cardio workout four times a week: Result: YTD, I have walked/run over 1,600 miles (that’s an average of more than 4.5 miles a day!)
  3. Goal: Read/listen to more than 20 books. Result: YTD, I have listened to and completed 43 books!
  4. Goal: Sleep an average of more than 7.5 hours a night. Result: YTD, I have averaged 7.78 hours of sleep a night!
  5. Goal: Lose 14.4 pounds. Result: YTD, I have lost 4.4 pounds! But, I think I have a lot more muscle due to all my exercising. (BTW – Those were the hardest 4.4 pounds I’ve ever lost!)

What I’ve learned is writing down your goals, not having too many, sharing them with an accountability partner and tracking your progress—really works!

So, during the next two weeks, please don’t make any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, why don’t you go to Staples and purchase a 2021 MONTHLY PLANNING calendar. Make a list of a few goals. Start tracking them daily. Each month, recap your activity and progress. And perhaps add a few goals to your list for the next month.

One last thought:  If we are friends on Facebook, then you probably notice that both Jack (aka John Daly) and I post a lot of our physical activities, and I post when I donate blood. Some people (who shall remain nameless) have commented that it seems a little self-absorbed to post so much about what we do. All I can say is I know for a fact that my determination and consistency have inspired others to step up their game and exercise more. And to start donating blood.

Last week, after I gave blood for the fourth time this year and posted the traditional photo of me in the donor chair with the IV and blood bag showing, I received two messages:

“People like you, taking the time to give blood truly saved my daughter’s life. Almost brings me to tears, thank you!” (From Christina in Ventura)

“You are a lifesaver! Thanks, Karen. If it weren’t for wonderful people like you and my amazing sister, I would not be here today.” (From Janie in Atlanta)

If I inspire others to accomplish things they thought were not possible, then I have done a great deed.  I hope my sharing inspires you to take a big step to make 2021 your best year ever!


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