Career Development Personal Development

What Are Your Goals for 2012?

A CD cover from my pal Dougie

This goal setting lark looks deceptively easy but is in fact pretty tough. It actually involves sitting down (that’s the easy part) and thinking (that’s the difficult part).


I found the first part of Chris Guillebeau’s Annual Review process easy enough – what went well and not so well in 2011. Chris was even kind enough to link to my post on his blog!

But as you can see, when it comes to the second part of the process, Chris focuses on a number of categories in his life, e.g. business, health, writing, travel – and then selects 3-5 measurable goals for each. He then maps out the key actions needed to achieve those goals.

Depending on how many categories you have that are important to you, that all adds up to a lot of goals, and can quickly become overwhelming.

One Big Goal

I also wrote about Leo Babauta’s book ‘The Power of Less’ this week because it suggests a slightly simpler, more manageable process, which is – just choose one goal each 6-12 months.

However whilst I admire his minimalist approach, and find it useful to an extent, most people are a bit more complex than that. We want to achieve our creative goals, but also have goals relating to health or family and can rarely just drop those whilst we completely focus on one thing.

Where I Am So Far

So I’m aiming to find a middle ground. I do have one main goal for the year – to establish a successful freelance writing business. By successful I mean that I want to be earning as much freelance by the end of 2012 as I do at my full-time job now – but I will also need to keep a strict limit on the amount of client work I do so that I have time for the creative, promotional and admin sides of the business too.

So that’s a pretty huge goal that is going to take precedence this year. I also want to develop some of my other skills to a more professional level such as video and audio production and InDesign etc so that I can offer additional services to writing in future.

Establishing Habits

I know that establishing regular habits are a key to the success of what I do, but I know from 2011’s morning routine fail that this is not something that comes easy to me. Therefore I’m going to stick to Leo’s suggestion to focus on one new, positive habit per month, and in January I’m going to follow the advice of Sarah J. Bray’s 90 Minute Workday post. If I have that habit in place for when I go full-time freelance on Feb 3rd I think it’ll be a great start.

I am still working on some goals for the other categories in my life as Chris suggests, but I’m still in the early stages of deciding what these are and I expect they will evolve over the next couple of months.  I particularly want to work on improving my fitness this year, so in January I’m also going to avoid drinking for the most part which should free up time, energy and cash and enable me to really focus on what’s important.

What About You?

I think that’s enough goal-setting for now. I wanted to share how I’m getting on with this as I know a lot of people will be thinking about this kind of thing right now  so I hope it was useful – and I’d love to hear what your main goals are for 2012 in the comments!

6 replies on “What Are Your Goals for 2012?”

Brilliant post, and good to remind me of Chris Guillebeau, since I’ve read AONC recently, but hurried on too quickly to the Next Thing and haven’t reflected enough on it. Here’s my nutshell: 1) Went Well: started and maintained solid creative work (novel and blog), increased social activities that made meaningful connections, engaged in replenishing travel, and kept up running and yoga practices! 2) What Didn’t: longer than anticipated to figure out how to transition into creative work, stagnating in current 9-5 job, and not much dating. 3) 2012 Goals: 6 more engaged months at the job, ramped-up creative work and networking (including some volunteering), and continued exercise and social practices (including running 10 mile race in April!)
If you need someone to check in with on the running/ exercise goal, I’m pretty good at that!
And excellent blog, thanks for your thoughts!


Hi Margaret, many thanks for your comment. Sounds like you’ve done great and have some really concrete goals for the year ahead – keep up the good work! I may be in touch about your offer to keep me accountable 🙂


My perfectionist streak usually leads me to more cognitive dissonance than goal achievement thanks to multitasking. This year my goal setting is more around clearing the field to create a stronger foundation for goal setting than setting the goals themselves.

Ideas around freedom and effectiveness have always resonated with me and I’ve recently found these ideas well articulated by ideas of ‘minimalism’ –

So this year I’ll be reducing both mental clutter to help minimise distractions that make me lose focus on things I really want to focus on and to clear the way for working out and on what’s actually important to me.

For a Physical example; my shelves of unread books weigh upon my mind, creating mental clutter as a persistent ‘to-do’, and even once read they’ll continue to take up physical space that could be dedicated to something else. This year I’m going to stop buying & borrowing books till I’ve read the unread ones I’ve already got and disposing of them once read. If I ever want them back I can get them electronically or from a library. I can already envision the nice clean empty Edinburgh press cupboard shelves and not being reminded of something I’ve still to do every time I look at them.


Hi Alasdair – that sounds like a great goal in itself. I did the same in 2009 and found it immensely useful – and am now well overdue to do it again!

Whilst I hesitate to recommend buying further ‘stuff’ – one of the beauties of the Kindle or iPad, and services like Spotify is that you no longer need physical books/CDs etc. However digital content can be just as bad when it comes to mental clutter. In fact I am on a mission to cut down on my digital consumption, and am ferociously unsubscribing to email newsletters etc (apart from the really good ones).

My review of The Power of Less might help you with the minimalism thing also..


I find non-work reading hygiene on the ipad problematic with so may opportunities to investigate read issues & concepts just a tap away. I seldom have a reading session that doesn’t include checking the news, browsing, & social media at some point.
Hmm, maybe a kindle’s comparative limitations would suit my reading better.

Thanks for the reading recommendation. I tend to spend more time collecting productivity information than consuming & processing it completely, but it’ll make it onto my read list once I get through the extant info I’ve collected 🙂


True, I like the Kindle because it’s pretty much distraction free (the experimental web browser doesn’t work well enough to be worthwhile).

With the iPad you could always turn off the internet. But then there’s still games and other things that could still compete for your attention!

I know that feeling. Best of luck in your quest to “clear the field”!


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