Procrastinating about New Years goals? Make Origami instead.

Updated to Productivity on January 3, 2023.

It’s a bit cliche to brag about boycotting New Year’s resolutions.

“It’s a joke,” you say, with no small amount of self-doubt, “nobody keeps them anyways, so why make ‘em?” Once again we stride into another year, full of swagger and with no end in mind.

I have to admit I’m slow off the mark when it comes to making goals for the year. I get the logic – even preach the stuff – but it’s usually late January by the time I’ve nailed my list to the wall.

What about you? Have you made your goals? Are you committed to them? How about excited?

In this post I’m sharing what I’m doing differently this year and why I’m so excited about this new approach.

But, before we get to that, join me for a little time travel.

Join me for a little time travel.

A little time travel

I want you to leap ahead with me to Dec 31st of this year. Depending on when you read this, Dec 31st could be a full 12 months ahead, or just around the corner.

The year has past – you’re another year older. You’ve made some new habits, broken a few more and thought about your goals hundreds of times.

You’ve read some books, many more never got finished – most of what you read is already forgotten.

Most days you regret what you ate, skipped the walk at lunch and your rowing machine has rust on it.

In your most generous moments you reached out and thanked a friend, hugged a partner, or wrote a card to that Aunt you haven’t seen in years. It felt good. Many more times you thought about it and then got distracted.

How are you doing?

If any of this sounds familiar, you’re human (check the box here) – we’re all fallible, gullible, and (hopefully) the first to admit our faults.

The question, dear reader, is what are you doing this year to break the pattern and create the year you really want (‘cause it’s your choice, don’t you know)?

Take out a piece of paper

I want you to do a simple exercise with me right now. It takes maybe 5 to 10 minutes and could be a game changer (it was for me). I’ll add that if you’ve ever struggled with making goals, this could work better.

Start by drawing a line down the middle of a blank page and then add two horizontal lines, evenly spaced. Now you have six equal areas to describe your goals in life.

Label each space with a category of life important to you, like: health, mind, money, etc. Next, add descriptive words for each category, like this (the order doesn’t matter):

  1. health – exercise, diet, sleep
  2. mind – learning, expanding, exercising
  3. money – planning, saving, spending
  4. relationships – family, friends, social
  5. work – engagement, advancement, returns
  6. adventure – travel, hobby, risk

So far, so good. Think of this as a sort of MAP (if you need another acronym, how about My Annual Plan?) – to drive you safely to year end.

You might want to scan your new MAP into Evernote, slip it into a journal, or carry it with you on an index card, but for now let’s dress it up with a bit more detail.

How do you feel?

Most goal setting is all about numbers and achievements, like: lose 20lbs, 3 weeks off work, save $5,000. Nothing wrong with that, if you’re analytical and driven by numbers.

But, I need my goal to motivate me before I jump into details. Just like planning a trip, I always dream about the experience before I think about flights, hotels and tours.

Next, I want you to add in each zone how you want to feel, at the end of the year (see the examples on my MAP, below). I use language like:

“Proud of how I took care of my body”

“I let people around me know how much I love them”

“On track of building my wealth”

“I’m in control and I make my decisions”

“I stretched myself – got out of my comfort zone”

“I worked hard.”

“No regrets”

Finally, complete your MAP with goals important to you.

My 2016 Flight Plan

Don’t overload the MAP

The caution here is to not create an unreasonably long list of miscellaneous To-Do’s that weight you down (it’s easy to do). Instead, stick to a few high-level, important, significant long-term objectives that with some concerted effort, you can achieve.

For me, 3-5 top priorities for each category is enough to give me direction without overloading the MAP. If I need more details (like for my business plan), that’s all created in separate Google Docs.

New Year Goals Origami

Once you’re done creating goals for the New Year, wouldn’t it be fun to make them beautiful? Here’s my version of New Year’s goals Origami. Enjoy.

Let me know what you think of this system and, if you do it differently, how you approach goal setting for your New Year (even if you don’t know origami.)