The One Thing You Must do Before Crafting 2018 Goals

The new year is one of my favorite times of the year—the blank slate, the feeling of freshness and excitement about the year to come. It’s one of the best times to set goals and create a vision for the year.

I’ve gone through so many processes of goal-setting: making resolutions, burning what I want to release, creating a vision board, writing down my goals, eschewing goals altogether in favor of a word of the year. You name it, I’ve tried it. What I do know about this work is that you cannot skip over reflection of the year that’s just gone by. I know, I know, who wants to be looking backward at 2017 when there’s a brand new shiny year just waiting for you to take it by storm?

Take it from me, the one thing you must do before visioning, goal-setting, and imagining all the juicy things you’ll do and be this year…complete a specific, non-judgemental, searingly honest reflection of your unique 2017.

I walk all my clients through a mini-retreat to set them up for an amazing year to come, and the entire first part of that retreat involves looking back at 2017 in order to squeeze every lesson, every morsel of gratitude, everything that might be a building block for your continued growth in 2018.


The purpose of this reflection process is to bring all the things you learned last year into your conscious awareness in order to guide the direction of your trajectory this year. In order to glean lessons, you must be specific.

For example, one of the things I have my clients reflect on (in writing) are what they are proud of personally and professionally. In order for this to be potent, you need to be specific—who did you impact and at what moment; what kinds of relationships did you have. The recall of your experience of the things you are proud of needs to be visceral. In other words, specific, not general. If needed, pull up your calendar from 2017 and go through month by month, recalling events, details, interactions, epiphanies, landmarks. Mine your year for whatever experience you are trying to recall—whether it is moments of pride, gratitude, lessons—and make them specific.


While some lessons come to us in moments of great success, most often, its failure that’s really the greatest teacher. In order to integrate the lessons from 2017, we must approach our recall of these perhaps less-than-stellar experiences with a sense of self-compassion and non-judgement.

If you notice yourself judging yourself or an experience during your reflection process, or if you find yourself shying away from thinking about something that happened last year because it feels uncomfortable, that’s a great thing to realize. Take a pause, a breathe, a beat and know that this is the juice, the moment of truth, the opportunity for real growth. This is the point of reflecting in the first place—to learn all the lessons you need to from last year so you don’t make them again this year. This moment requires that you release your judgement of yourself and roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Searingly Honest

If you are able to shed the layer of judgement that often coats our greatest lessons like a bitter pill, you will find an ability to be searingly honest. What is the truth about the end of that relationship? Maybe it’s clarity about my own inability to speak up. What is the truth about the promotion I didn’t get? Maybe it’s a realization that I don’t want to be in this job anymore. Or maybe it’s that I need to spend the time really sitting with my performance evaluation (without judgement) to articulate what I can improve.

When you shed judgement completely, you find that discernment takes it’s place. Discernment is unattached; discernment is seeing the truth; discernment is wise; discernment allows you to learn the lesson.

If you can be specific, non-judgemental, and searingly honest in your reflection of 2017, I guarantee your 2018 will knock your socks off. It won’t matter what end-of-year process you use, or whose email list you join to access to their amazing and unique goal-setting document (I know, I’ve been enticed to join many a list in order to get a miracle tool). What I’ve learned is that there is no tool that can take the place of your own willingness to do the hard work of facing and articulating your own truth.

I’d love to hear how this goes for you! Did you reflect on 2017? How did it affect your vision for 2018?


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