A red streetlight in NYC.

I Stopped Setting Goals In January (I’ll Never Do It Again)

You don’t need to commit for the year.

First, obviously, I’m being hyperbolic. Of course, I reserve the right to set a new goal in January if deemed appropriate. What I’m really suggesting is that you abandon the idea of January as your only month for goal setting.

Hold on… wait… yes, I can clearly hear your thoughts… yes, they’re coming in now… I hear what you’re thinking:

  • But January is the beginning of the new year. I want to start fresh!
  • I love planning out my year. It’s so much fun and January is the best time to do it!
  • I feel the most motivated in January, so naturally, I want to take advantage of that time.

I hear you. And you’re wrong.


Some things I don’t like

I don’t like the concept of Valentine’s day. Nor do I like the concept of Thanksgiving. Or the idea of giving associated with the Christmas season. The holidays are great and all, but I hate that most people are only thankful on one random Thursday in November.

Or that spouses wait for a day in February to say I love you.

Or that people take, take, take all year and then decide, because of the season, that they will start giving.

You don’t need to wait for the banks to close and your in-laws to arrive to remind yourself what you have to be thankful for. No. These are things that you could (and I say should) be doing all the time.

Now go ahead and add goal setting in January to that list.


A Catch-22

Every January, just like you, I would sit down and plan out my year. And it would be a lot of fun! Imagining what my March would look like, picturing my October; how exciting! But, as you probably know all too well, that goal you started in January may run its course by April.

And then you’re stuck.

Do you continue working on this goal that you no longer care about? Or do you abandon it and feel like a quitter?

You’ve set yourself up for failure.


Various construction signs in the street.


Ignore the calendar

Instead, do something sweet for your spouse today; give someone a random, thoughtful gift; make a list of what you’re grateful for; set a goal. You don’t need a calendar telling you when to do the things you want.

Just go do them.

When it comes to your goals, start and stop them whenever you want.

If you start a goal in February to run one mile a day, and by March you realize you hate running and you’re not getting out of it what you hoped, end the goal and move on to something better.

If you set a goal to learn HTML in three months and you somehow master it in two, you can add another language atop your original goal. Or you can take your HTML goal to the next level by opting to build a website from scratch within six weeks.

You have tremendous amounts of flexibility when it comes to your goals. Take advantage of it.


I’m fasting from fasting

Earlier this year, in June, I set a goal to do one 24-hour fast a week. And then I got to it.

Several weeks went by and, though I was achieving my goal each week, it just didn’t feel like a good fit. My reason for pursuing the goal wasn’t thought-through enough, so I decided to end it until I learned more about fasting’s benefits and inner workings.

That was in September.

And therein lies a perfect example of what I’m talking about.

I started a goal in June, worked at it diligently, and completed the fast each week, but after a few months realized it wasn’t for me and ended it. Since then, I’ve added a whole slew of new goals into my life that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I stuck with the rigidity of January goal setting.


I no longer set goals in January and because of that, I’m doing a fast from fasting.


Less rigid, more simple

With most things in life, I’ve found that the less rigid and more simple you can make something, the better. If you force yourself to write an essay every time you set a new goal, you’ll probably never set new goals.

Likewise, if you force yourself to wait eight months before setting a new goal, you’ll delay whatever joy that new goal would potentially bring.

Sidestep all of that. Instead, make it simple to set goals for yourself. I use a very basic goal tracker, for instance. Additionally, remove any rigidity you have around goal setting. Recognize that you can start or stop a goal whenever you want.

There is no rule stating all goals must be set in January.


Set a goal right now

I don’t care what month it is as you read this. If you have a new goal that you want to pursue, something that you’re excited to test out, set that goal for yourself and get started with it today. Or, at the very latest, within the next few days.

Set it, start it, work on it. If you’re getting what you want out of it, keep going. If you’re not, end it.

I’ll see you in January (not that it matters).


PS: Let me show you how to achieve your goals.

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