Goal setting is always a popular topic at the beginning of a new year. Wrapped up in the excitement of a natural fresh start, a new page, we’re eager to set resolutions and commit to changing something in our lives. Now, I don’t like resolutions, but that’s a story for another day. What I do love are goals. And I believe all goals fall into one of four types. The difference is, what is your main objective? Why are you setting this goal?

Your answer will fall into one of these categories; learn, change, experience or challenge.

Learn Goals

A goal focused on learning is all about adding to your toolkit. Curious people set learning goals. You want to know more about a topic. For many of us who consider ourselves lifelong learners, this type of goal is one we are always setting. Learning is getting answers to your questions. It’s digging deeper into a topic that interests you. It’s an opportunity to expand your skill set. Maybe you want to master grandma’s meatball recipe. Or after watching The Queen’s Gambit you want to learn to play chess.

The great thing about learn goals is that there are so many different ways to accomplish them! The places you can learn from are plentiful. In the age of the internet and social media, when we go to the right sources, we can learn a lot online. Here are a list of some of my favorite resources for learning:

  • Watch a YouTube video

  • Complete an online course

  • Read a book

  • Watch a documentary or TV series

  • Follow an expert on social media

  • Take a virtual lesson or a class

Change Goals

Is there something in your life that doesn’t make you happy or isn’t brining you joy anymore? What you want to set is a change goal! These goals are about improving something in your life. It is when you commit to making different choices. You may want to add a new habit into your routine, like drinking more water every day. I am often setting a change goal to eat fewer sweets. {One day I’m going to acknowledge this is a losing battle, but for now I’ll keep working on it.}

One of the best ways to tackle your change goal is by establishing new habits. This breaks down what might be a big, overwhelming goal, into one daily behavior. If you commit to one small behavior each day, eventually you will create a habit. And consistent habits become everyday behaviors. I recommend listening to Elizabeth McCravy’s podcast on this topic, A Bulletproof Strategy for Achieving Your Goals with the Power of Habits.

Experience Goals

Without fail, I set an experience goal every year. I love to travel and will find any excuse to go somewhere new. That’s what experience goals are all about, getting out there and seeing the world. It doesn’t always mean you have to get on a plane and go half way across the world (although I wouldn’t say no to that). An experience goal can be about visiting local places. It could tie into another interest of yours.

I had friends that loved baseball and they had the goal of visiting every major league baseball park in the US. An experience goal could also be about trying something new. I think of those crazy people who say they want to go sky diving. {No thanks! Who would jump out of a perfectly good airplane?!} They may be crazy, but sky diving is definitely an experience goal.

I have an ongoing “places to visit” list that feeds my experience goal. It is divided into three categories; local, domestic, and international. I am always adding to it when I hear about another interesting place. The list is a mix of countries, specific cities, and actual places like restaurants and museums. When I finally visit, I mark the date on my list. Start your own list today and see where you can go this year!

Challenge Goals

The fourth goal type are challenge goals. This is all about pushing yourself to new limits and abilities. Look at the pastimes you already have. How can you take them to the next level?

As a runner, my first challenge goal was to run a 5K. A couple years later it was to complete a 10K. And eventually I set the goal of running a marathon. That was one I never thought I would do! But, as I had been gradually increasing the distance of my running goals, it finally didn’t feel so crazy.

Challenge goals can often be the hardest. It means committing to doing something you have never done before. While all goals take hard work and commitment, challenge goals take the most.

My best advice for achieving your challenge goal is to find a partner who will join you. They don’t need to have the same goal, but if they are willing to come along for some of the journey, you’re far more likely to be successful. When I was training for my marathon, I had several friends join me for runs. Often, I’d go out for a few miles, meet up with friends for a few more, then finish the final stretch on my own. This made those long, arduous runs, much more enjoyable!

Many times, our goal is actually a melding of more than one type. Or we set a big dream goal, and when we break it down, it means setting multiple smaller goals, or what I call steps. Each of those end up being a different type of goal.

Let me give you an example. I have a big dream goal of living in France for 3 months. That is an experience goal. One of the steps to making this goal happen is to learn to speak and read French, which is a learn goal.

So, which are you setting this month? This year? Leave a comment below and let me know what type of goal setter you are!

Skim to the bottom? Here are the cliff notes:

  • Learn Goal: adding information and knowledge to your toolkit.

  • Accomplishment tip: look to the internet for numerous ways to learn.

  • Change Goal: establishing different practices than what you do today.

  • Accomplishment tip: add in a daily habit that will grow into a regular behavior.

  • Experience Goal: getting out and visiting places locally or far way.

  • Accomplishment tip: have a running list of local, domestic, and international places.

  • Challenge Goal: pushing yourself to achieve or try something at a new level.

  • Accomplishment tip: find a partner to join you on the journey.


A new year is right around the corner, hallelujah! And that means I have been working on setting my goals for 2021. I often have way too many ideas for goals than I can reasonably manage. So, before I finalize what my goals will be, I answer these three questions.

1. What is the most important thing for me to focus on right now?

Answering this question creates a sense of urgency. It reminds me to focus on the goal that will impact my life right now. If I choose a goal that is about something in the far-off future, I’m more apt to put off actually starting on the goal.

As I look through all my ideas, I will cross off the goals that don’t fit. I’m not saying no to them, that’s important to remember. I am just saying not right now. These ideas will still be in my notebook and I can come back to them when the time is right.

If you do have a big idea for the far-off future, your current goal may be a smaller piece of the puzzle. It is the sub goal that is more immediate.

For example, your big dream goal is to retire by the time you are 50. You’re currently 40 so you have ten years to go. You know you need to increase your 401K by $100,000 in order to retire. What is most important right now is saving more. So, your goal is to set aside an additional $500.00 every month.

How are you going to do that? Don’t worry about it yet! One of the most important rules about coming up with your big dream goals is to not worry about the how. The how can limit us, stop us. We will figure out the how, but not yet.

What you are going to do, is answer my second question.

2. What goal makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning?

I am an early riser. I will gladly get up at 5am (with a big cup of coffee) and go work on my business. I am excited about building this business. It is my big dream goal coming to reality. So an early alarm won’t stop me.

Your goal must excite you! And if you’re not a morning person, reframe it to, what goal makes me want to stay up late?

Taking action on your big dream goal is hard work. You have to be committed to that action if you want to see it become reality. So you have to be excited about it!

The most important word in this question is ‘me.’ This is your goal. Not your spouse’s goal. Not that goal Instagram is telling you to chase. This is not your kid’s goal. This is your big dream goal. Be true to yourself and set one that lights you up.

The last question you need to answer is the most important. Many of us fall into the trap of setting goals, writing them down, then tucking the pieces of paper away on our desk where it gets lost, never to be seen again. The goal stays just a dream. I don’t want that for you!

I want your dream to become reality.

So question number 3,

3. What am I going to do tomorrow to take the first step towards my big dream goal?

What is the one item you are going to put on your to do list for tomorrow to turn this dream into reality? It will get you one step closer. Moving forward on your big dream goal is really all about small action steps that add up to big changes. So start with just that one step.

Your goal is to lose weight. Tomorrow’s first action step is to research workout from home options.

Your goal is to master grandma’s meatball recipe. Your action step tomorrow is to find that recipe!

Your goal is just to make it to the end of 2020 without totally losing it. The only item on the to do list for tomorrow is take a shower.

Whatever your goals are, they must be important for you today. Your goal must excite and energize you. And you need to know the first step you’re going to take to turn that goal into a reality.

While these three questions are what I consider the most important, they aren’t the only ones I answer. Goal setting for me starts with journaling. And I have put together some of my favorite questions to help you discover what your goals are for today, tomorrow, and into 2021. Download a copy of my 20 Journal Prompts to Identify Your Big Dream Goals.

I want to hear what goals you set. Leave a comment below when you have set your big dream goal so we can cheer each other on!

  • Abby Myette

Six big goals. Build and grow my business. Experience new places. Focus on my health and challenging myself in new ways. That was the plan for 2020 when I sat down in December 2019 and wrote out my goals using Cultivate What Matters Powersheets. And as we all know, 2020 was not going to go as planned for any of us. As I sit here, eleven months later, I can confidently say, all was not lost. Here’s how I managed to salvage my goals that were sidelined.

My goals for 2020.

Original Goal 5: Find right balance post surgery and with new meds.

In early December I had surgery to remove my thyroid. So, one of my goals was to focus on my health. I new I would need to listen to my body to determine if the new medication dose was working or not. I was scheduled to have a follow up appointment with the endocrinologist in March, about a week after the country went into lock down. My appointment was cancelled. So I looked inward, I started listening to my body in ways I never had before. I could tell something was off. I did not feel like myself. But I couldn’t do anything about it. In order to determine how the medicine was working, I would need to get my blood drawn, and the labs were still closed. A blood test would only confirm what I already knew, something wasn’t right. And it was working on goal number 4 that was telling me everything I needed to know.

Original Goal 4: Set a new PR running a half marathon.

I have run a few half marathons in my life. And each time the goal was just finish. This year I wanted to actually set a time goal and beat it. {For my non-runner friends, a PR is a personal record.} So, this meant running the race faster than I ever had before. A mild winter had me outside training. I started with just running 3 miles, a distance I typically have no problem running. But this time was different. About a mile into the run I was exhausted. I could not complete my typical 3 mile loop without walking several times. I realized the changes in my body from surgery was impacting my stamina. I felt so defeated. And with all the labs and doctor’s offices closed, I could not find out what was going on. On top of that, races were being cancelled. It was starting to look like my half marathon goal was not going to happen this year.

This goal started to shift when I had the opportunity to rent a spin bike from my spin studio, Inner Cycle. I jumped on it, both literally and figuratively. I realized my half marathon goal was really about pushing myself and staying fit. Previously I would take a spin class once or twice a week. Now, with a spin bike in my living room, and the opportunity to live stream classes, I was spinning 4 or 5 days a week. And I was loving it! I felt myself getting stronger. This is when goal number 5 shifted. And goal 4 never really went away, it just will be revisited next year.

Revised Goal 5: Adopt new healthy habits.

Original Goal 6: Visit new places locally and internationally.

Mexico in March and Paris in May. 2020 was going to be a year of travel and experiencing new places. I was so excited! And then, checking the internet nearly daily, it became clear Mexico wasn’t going to happen. And not long after, I got notified our Paris flights were cancelled. 2020 was not going to be the year of travel after all.

But I didn’t want my goal to be a total loss.

So, I asked myself why did I want to travel? What was the purpose? For me, travel has always been about experiencing new places, learning about other cultures and digging into the history of the area. How could I do that from my couch? I realized I could still learn about other places through documentaries. Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+ were ripe with options. I started with Lost Treasures of the Maya from National Geographic (watch on Disney+). I started Netflix’s Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb. And I watched a lot of House Hunters: International. I learned about numerous countries and cultures. I got a taste of travel from the comfort of my couch. And even Emily in Paris gave me a taste of what out trip might have been like.

Revised Goal 6: Visit and learn about new places locally and internationally.

There are three questions that 2020 has prompted me to ask when I set my goals;

  • What am I trying to accomplish really?

  • Is this an action step or the goal itself?

  • If you couldn’t accomplish this goal, what would you do instead?

These are three questions I will ask of myself every time I set a goal. It has called me to look inward, to really dig deep and determine what I am striving for when I set a goal. Achieving goals in 2020 has not gone as planned. But it has not been a total loss. And as I start to think about goals for 2021, I am confident the experiences of the past year will call me to set bigger, stronger, and bolder goals.

If you’re ready to do the same, get on my goals insider list. Sign up here. We’ll be coming together (virtually) in December to set our goals for 2021. And I’ll be announcing a special opportunity to receive the support and guidance to take action on those goals. I can’t wait for you to join in on the fun!

Not sure what your next big dream goal is?

Download my free Journal Prompts booklet to find clarity & identify your next big dream goal!

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