Progress over perfection: my reflective goal-setting strategy for 2023

Making progress, one Sunday at a time 🙏🏼

The first couple of weeks of the year can be triggering. It seems like everyone is setting goals for the year to be the best version of themselves.

That video was me last week. I was that person 😂. After reflecting on the past year, I started the week with a fire in my belly. I set some goals for the week and off I went.

My goals from my whiteboard: 1) Message Victor re visa. 2) Build a project / e-commerce with NextJS. 3) Finish Typescript course. 4) Make a CV draft. 5) Start tweeting once a day

Now let’s be honest… building an entire e-commerce project in a week was wildly unrealistic. At least for me. Especially because it was something I’d never done before. But January 2nd me thought it was a wonderful and completely possible idea.

Come Sunday, I was reflecting with my partner about the week. I hadn’t achieved my goals, and, as a result, I was feeling really self-critical and negative. So what did I do? As I didn’t “achieve” my goals, I didn’t take any time to set goals for the next week... probably so I could avoid that feeling of “failure” again.

A better strategy

The biggest mistake I made was setting a goal that was almost impossible. It set me off track completely and lead me to think that I had failed.

But what if we reframe the idea of weekly goals? What if they are less about achieving the goal, and more about the progress you make toward them each week? Because it’s not about winning all the time, sometimes it’s just about continually moving forward.

If you set goals each week and achieve them easily — you’re either superhuman and probably close to burnout, or you're setting the bar too low.

I’m making a commitment to myself (starting next week 😅) to take a little bit of time each Sunday to:

  • Reflect on the past week: What went well? What could I improve? Did I achieve my goals? If not, what progress did I make? Take some time to appreciate the progress made.

  • Journal or talk about my goals and dreams for the future

  • Set at least 3 goals for the following week that help me towards the future I'm dreaming of. They should be realistic but make me feel a bit uncomfortable.

  • Write my goals somewhere that I can see them each day — for me, it’s on my whiteboard, but perhaps it could be a note on your desk or your phone wallpaper.

I hope you’ll join me. Just taking 30 minutes for reflection out of your Sunday, or first thing Monday morning can make a huge difference to your progress.

Do you have any big goals for 2023? How do you keep track of your goals? Do you have a weekly goal-setting ritual? I'd love to hear about it.

Closing note:

The inspiration for this blog post came from doing some journaling exercises in this book:

11 Lessons From Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before by Dr Julie Smith

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? – Dr Julie Smith

I haven’t finished it yet but it’s been a great read so far. It talks about how the mind works from a therapist's perspective. It also has exercises and journal prompts to help you to understand yourself more. Very recommended!