Exercise: End the year well and start the next with a plan…

Sometimes, it’s good to take stock of where we are, what we have achieved and decide where we want to go. We tend to quickly forget recent achievements, and get caught up in the next task that needs urgent attention. Forcing ourselves to consider what our “top priorities” are can help us focus on what activities are most meaningful to us.

For 5 minutes: List your achievements this past year. Be specific with numbers and names wherever possible. Feel free to refer to your diary, photos or anything else to help you remember. If you had new year’s resolutions one year ago, review these too.

For 3 minutes: Reflect on which achievements are you particularly happy with, and what you wish you had spent more time on.

For 3 minutes: Set yourself new goals for the next year or next months. Brainstorm and make a list.

For 3 minutes: Select the most important goals. Usually 4-5 is a good number, but it is up to you.

For 3 minutes: For the goals you have, redefine them so that they are S.M.A.R.T.:

  • Specific
  • Measurable: Specify numbers and amounts wherever possible
  • Achievable within a few months to a year
  • Relevant to your main goals in life
  • Time-bound by a specific deadline

For 3 minutes: Make a plan on how to reach each goal. For some this may mean a new daily habit. If so, decide when during the day you are going to make time for it and maybe set an alarm. For others, you may wand to set intermediate targets in the next weeks and months. For some (for example exercise or learning) you may even want to create a detailed schedule covering the next weeks.

For 3 minutes: Set a review date. Pick a date in the future (e.g. 3 months from now) and schedule a review of your goals. The idea is to see if you are on-track to achieving them, whether they are still relevant. Maybe write a short note to the future-you.


Clarifying what is important to us, can be a valuable way of reorienting our lives. It can also help us give-up things that are unimportant because they serve no higher goal. This might mean dropping a friendship that is one-sided or cleaning your bathroom a little less frequently, so that you have more time to exercise and spend time your loved ones. It ultimately depends on your own priorities. Aligning how we spend our time with what is meaningful to us in the long term can make us happier and more motivated generally.

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