Why you shouldn’t set 2018 goals (yet) and what you should do instead

Published: early December 2017. We’re now well into 2018, so I hope you have 2018 goals set and in progress! 

In the last few years, it feels like the urgency of planning for the following year is starting earlier and earlier. This year, I started seeing a whole lot of “planning and goal setting for 2018” messaging as early as Thanksgiving. The marketing around goal planning seems to have ramped up almost as loud as holiday marketing in some circles.

Do I dare share I’m not planning for 2018 yet?

I’m not planning for 2018 yet. 

Quite intentionally. Maybe you shouldn’t either.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane. Just over 11 months ago to be exact. January 1 dawned bright and shiny (even if it wasn’t sunny) and we woke up feeling energized and ready to conquer the world.

How do those 2017 goals look now? Where have you been successful? Where do you need another nudge to cross the finish line strong?

If we’re going to plan in November and December, then really we should just make the planning year from November to November or from December to December, rather than from January to January.

The last thing I need during a busy holiday season is to layer one more major exercise into the mix. Especially when that has a high likelihood of coming at the expense of finishing strong in the goals I set for this year.

I’m really good at looking at the big picture and making plans. Making plans is fun. I have backup plans for my backup plans. Executing plans is much more challenging than making new, shiny plans. Most of us struggle with this.

Often, what we need more than lessons on how to plan are reminders and tools to actually execute.

I love this! Such a refreshing idea.

December is, or should be, about finishing 2017 strong. There is plenty of time in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, or (gasp) in January to plan for 2018.

I don’t have the brain capacity to intentionally focus on the holiday season, finish my 2017 goals strong and make a meaningful plan for 2018 at the same time.

Maybe you do, and that’s amazing. But if you’re like me and you don’t, that’s okay too.

Here’s the thing. I probably could carve out several hours now to plan for my 2018. I’m not going to. Here’s why:

Focusing on 2018 goals now feels a little like getting to mile 25 of a marathon and deciding that your energy should go to planning the next marathon you’re going to run, rather than giving every last thing you have to the marathon you’re currently running.

I want to finish this year’s marathon strong.

You won’t fall flat on your face if you don’t buy the latest big, fancy goal setting course and execute it all in December.

Where to focus in December

Review your 2017 goals

  • What have you already accomplished? Celebrate this!
  • What has fallen off the priority list? Decide now to drop it from the list and not spend any more mental energy here.
  • What needs one last surge to cross the finish line by December 31? Focus all of your energy here.

Celebrate the holidays!

This likely looks very different for each of us, and that’s great. 

Rather than holiday goals, I’ve got a Christmas Bucket List. With little kids, it’s been much more effective to make a list of things we want to do, with very few must-do’s and low expectations. There are a few key events that we’ve planned in, and the rest we’ll do (or not do) as time, energy and moods allow.

Regardless of when you plan for 2018, or any future milestone, don’t stop short of the current finish line. Don’t give up on the here and now in favor of the future. Planning is important, but so is being present in the present. You can do this!

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