By Haneen Ahmad

Hey there 2020, I see you and I am going to be honest with you. The truth is we create our own reality. We are the ones responsible for whether or not our goals are met or unmet. And vague goals definitely won’t get you anywhere… that’s why these 6 steps are going to guide you through setting intentional goals that you will definitely be able to accomplish this year!

Step 1 Reflection

Reflect on last year. What were your highlights of 2019? What did you achieve or accomplish, what are you proud of? Did you set smart personal goals that energized you, brought fulfillment or alignment into your life? Reflection is an important part of the process because it’s the foundation for how we learn and develop new skills.

After you have done a bit of reflection you are ready to move forward. Close the chapter of the last decade and start fresh, taking with you what you have learned. 

Step 2 Clarity. 

Decide if your desire is a goal or is it actually a habit you want to change. There is a distinction between the two and the path you take in approaching each will be different. Take a moment to decide what is truly meaningful to you. Goal setting is nothing without clarity and purpose. Goal setting isn’t just about what you need to get done, it’s also about how you want to feel while getting those things done. One of the first things I like to encourage people to do is to map out how they would like to feel for this year.

Start out by making a list of about 10 words to describe how you want to feel.  Work your way through the list and try to narrow it down to your top three words. These serve as your guiding words when you make decisions or take action.

For example, let’s say your three words are bold, purposeful, and open-minded.

Now use these words to guide you… 

Am I being bold with my words in a way that serves me best?

What is my purpose in making this decision?

Am I being open-minded in the way that I’m handling the situation? 

Not only is setting the actual goal important but the why behind it is really important as well you’re gonna want to know why the goal matters to you.

For example, don’t just set a weight loss goal because you want to lose weight. Maybe you want to lose weight because you’re having health problems; your joints are stressed out, your back aches or you’re trying to improve the longevity of your life and be as healthy as possible. And what that actually means isn’t just weight loss it’s most likely an entire lifestyle change. That can be broken down into a lot of small goals. Much easier to do if you know what your why is.

Step 3 Create A Vision Board 

A vision board serves as a visual representation of what you would like to get done this year. Get a poster paper and add images from magazines, stickers, photographs, words etc that showcase the year you are hoping to manifest for yourself. 

Put it somewhere that you will see every day, or on a regular basis

Maybe on the back of your door on your way out you’ll see it every day maybe on your bathroom mirror maybe next to your nightstand

The next three steps focus on how strategies that support you in achieving your goals

Step 4 Set SMART Goals

SMART goals help clarify your ideas and focus your efforts. 
SMART is an acronym for the 5 elements of 





time-based goals

Use the above guiding format when putting your goals down on paper. Writing down your goals has been proven to show that you’re more likely to reach that goal. If you’re setting a big goal for yourself definitely break it down into manageable parts, that’s going to help you not only achieve your goal but it’s also going to help you enjoy the actual process of achieving the goal. Allow yourself the space to enjoy the process, this will result in a greater sense of joy. 

Step 5 Shout It Out

Declare those goals baby! Find yourself an accountability buddy or community. This can be your therapist, partner, best friend, this can even be your weekly book club or knitting meet-up.  Whoever it is, whatever community you have built connection with, share your goals with them. Keep each other accountable, motivated, and inspired. 

Step 6 Yourself

Build a relationship with yourself where you can check in on how you’re doing in terms of progress.

Maybe you are a list person? Or a Schedule person? Maybe you like to map out on your google calendar. Whatever your method, make sure to take time to celebrate your wins as they happen and document them. 

Give yourself grace if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t follow the timeline that you’re expecting, or that you set for yourself. Accept that you are putting forth your best well-intentioned effort. And if you are looking for more ways in which being intentional can inspire your day check out Elease Colcord!

Above all else remember to start small, reward yourself, and don’t beat yourself up over goals that turn out unmet.  Whatever is meant for you in this 2020 year is already making its way towards you.


Haneen Ahmad, MSW, LICSW

How to set goals