New Year, New You? How to Set Real Goals

I'll never forget New Year's Day 2023 - as I looked at my dusty, unfinished goals journal entry from 2022, I realized something had to change. I needed to set meaningful, achievable goals I could actually accomplish in the next 365 days.

Okay, before you stop and roll your eyes at “another cheesy new years resolution thought piece”, I can assure you this one is actionable.

Setting goals doesn't have to be a cliche New Year's tradition that leaves you disappointed 12 months later. You don’t have to become part of the 91% of people who never complete their resolutions, or worse, the 43% that quit by the end of January. With the right strategy, you can set yourself up for success and real, lasting change in 2024.

I was once a skeptic, but I now take New Year's resolutions quite seriously. I didn’t always. Truthfully, 2023 was the very first year I actualized New Year's resolutions.

What was different this year?

As the founder of a mentorship company, I've seen firsthand the power of setting meaningful goals tailored to each individual. Our mentors work closely with students to help them grow in a personalized way - not every child's path to success is the same. But there's no better confidence boost than when a student sees their hard work pay off through improved grades, completed milestones, or finished projects.

The road to achievement isn't always linear. There will be setbacks and failures along the way. Yet the beauty of New Year's resolutions is that you get a full 12 months to put in focused effort and persist through challenges. Even the loftiest goals can seem achievable when broken down into smaller milestones over an entire year. Time, consistent dedication, and intention are powerful forces.

As I reflected on my 2023 goals, I realized they fell into two distinct categories:

  1. SMART Goals
  2. Audacious Goals

SMART Goals: These are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. They lay out incremental steps I can take towards a larger objective. 

For example:

  • Read 1 book per month
  • Post on LinkedIn 2x per week

To make these SMART goals work:

  • Track progress and create accountability. I used a Notion doc to tally my weekly LinkedIn posts and posted my monthly reads.
  • Persist through setbacks. I’ll be honest. There were a few months where I didn’t finish my book on time. Rather than let that mess with my confidence, I kept at it, reminding myself that I was responsible for 12 books this year. The months were meant to help me, not paralyze me.

Audacious Goals: These "moonshot" goals seem almost impossible at first glance. I set them to stretch myself. 

For example:

Get national media recognition for Curious Cardinals by speaking on Good Morning America, Today Show, CNN, etc. 


While this goal isn't measurable or time-bound, I manifested it through:

  • Visualization - constantly picturing my dream achieved
  • Taking small, consistent actions - researching media contacts, sending cold emails, etc.
  • Allowing some serendipity - The Today Show wrote us!

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In 2024, I encourage you to set both SMART and audacious goals. The incremental steps of the first will build your confidence to go after the wild leaps of faith of the second. With the right mix of pragmatism and belief in yourself, you can make this year everything you envision.

Our team took planning more serious than ever for 2024! We devoted our 2023 team retreat to getting organized, strategically plotting out all the amazing improvements we'll be making throughout 2024. We left energized and have continued that momentum into all our Q1 projects. We don't just believe tiny gains add up to big wins, we put "curiosity compounds" into practice! 😁 Here's a behind-the-scenes peek at the team charting out our SMART (and audacious!) goals. 

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