By Jiji Lee

How to Write a Goal Statement to Make 2020 the Best Year Yet


Set yourself up for success in the new year with this guide to writing goal statements.

Have you started thinking about your new year resolutions yet?

While the end of the year is typically a stressful and frantic time with last minute holiday shopping and travel headaches (and indulging in too much sugar and eggnog!) it can also be a time for reflection — an opportunity to curl up with your favorite notebook, and think about your plans for a successful new year. And a powerful way to make your plans more concrete, is to write a goal statement. 

A goal statement is like your north star, giving you direction in your personal or professional life. If you’ve ever found yourself despairing at the end of the year wondering, “Where did the time go?” a goal statement can provide much-needed structure, making each day feel much more dynamic and meaningful, as your actions are all aligned with a bigger purpose. 

Whether you’re new to the practice of setting goals or you’re a lifelong goal setter with coordinated planners and to-do lists, you’ll benefit from writing a goal statement. Here are some ways that you can create a powerful and meaningful goal statement for the new year.

Step 1: Reflect on the past year

Before we can write a goal statement and plan for the new year, we first have to take stock of what happened in the past year. 

I like to use the end-of-the-year prompts in the Ink+Volt planner to help me reflect on the past year. This exercise allows me to properly celebrate my accomplishments, big and small, and see just how far I’ve come, while also gaining perspective and insight on the obstacles I encountered. (You can also use our worksheet here.)

Try to find a quiet space and take your time thinking back on the experiences you had. Here are some prompts you can use: 

  • What challenges did you experience this year?  
  • How did you overcome them? What would you do differently? 
  • What did you accomplish this year? What did you do to achieve your accomplishment and how would you replicate it?
  • What are you most proud of? 
  • How are you feeling about your family, career, health, creativity, and spirituality?
  • What new activity or mantra did you adopt this year? 

Step 2: Describe your ideal year

After examining your successes and challenges from the past year, it’s time to think about what you’d like to accomplish in the year ahead. I like the section “Bringing Your Year Into Focus” in my Ink+Volt Planner, which helps me think “big picture” about my year and get clear on what I really want. 

You can make this exercise feel more special by creating a relaxed and peaceful environment. Put on a cozy outfit, have a glass of wine or cup of tea, light some candles, and put on some soothing music. Now allow yourself to think big and try not to judge yourself. Even if you think the ideas seem out of character or impractical, write them down. 

Maybe you’d like to make new friends or learn new skills. Maybe you’d like to do more creative projects or write a book.  Or maybe you’d like to start a successful side hustle or get a promotion.

You can also use this exercise to write a list of books you want to read, movies you want to see, subjects you want to learn about, or things you’d like to improve in general. 

An important thing to remember while doing this exercise is to check in with yourself and make sure that the ideal life you are visualizing is something that would make you genuinely fulfilled, and not something you feel obligated to do. For instance, if all your friends are starting side hustles or meditating regularly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to do those things if they won’t genuinely make you happy. 

The more honest you are about your ideal life, the more enthusiastic and dedicated you will be in creating it!

Step 3: Write a Goal Statement using the S.M.A.R.T Method

Okay, so we learned valuable lessons from the past year, and we figured out what we’d like to do in the new year. Now it’s time to give definition and direction to our year by writing a goal statement.

To write a strong goal statement, you’ll want to follow the S.M.A.R.T Method.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Attainable

R: Relevant

T: Time-bound 

Specific: You’ll want to avoid vague language like “I want to be more successful” or “I want to be smarter.” Instead, give yourself a specific goal that you can pursue. For example, instead of “I want to be more successful,” make it specific with “I want to be a Communications Director at my company.” Instead of “I want to be smarter,” a specific goal is “I want to read a book a month.” 

Measurable: A strong goal has a metric you can use to measure your progress. For example, if you want to be a Communications Director at your company, you can track the number of networking events and training courses you attend this year. You can monitor your progress using the Ink+Volt weekly planning pages and see how many career-building activities you’ve already accomplished or need to incorporate into your schedule. 

Attainable: Is this goal possible to achieve? You don’t want a goal to be so easy that you’re not excited about it, but you also don’t want a goal that feels so intimidating that you give up. It’s also totally fine to set a big goal that takes time to achieve. 

Relevant: Is this goal aligned with your priorities in life? For example, if your goal is to train for the marathon, is this aligned with your bigger priority of wanting to find more time to write? 

Time bound: A strong goal has a firm deadline, which will give something to work towards. So if your goal is to write a book this year, give yourself a concrete deadline and use the Ink+Volt planning pages to help keep you on track and make sure you crush your goal.

Here are some examples of goal statements using the S.M.A.R.T. method

  • I want to apply to my top five graduate schools by the end of the year.
  • I want to open my online shop by summer. 
  • I want to get an internship by May 2020. 
  • I want to finish the first draft of my screenplay by June 2020. 
  • I want to read 10 challenging books by the end of the year.
  • I want to learn French by spring. 
  • I want to travel to three new cities by the end of the year.

You can write your goal statement in your Ink+Volt planner and add some decorative flourishes with glitter gel pens and brush pens. By having a bright and cheerful reminder of your goal statement, you’ll be more likely to act on it and make small steps each day to achieve your goal.