Finding Purpose in a New Year by Setting Monthly Goals

finding purpose in a new year by setting monthly goals

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that setting monthly goals is a favorite activity of mine. I use monthly goal setting as a way of finding purpose in a new year, as well as prioritizing and reflecting on my life. I keep my goals simple. Some are serious; others whimsical.

Finding Purpose in a New Year by Setting Monthly Goals

I like to pick a single word to focus on each year. For 2015, that word was BOUNCE. Our family had faced several changes and challenges in 2013 and 2014, and I felt like it was time for us to bounce back and find simple pleasures in life. I do feel that we have built resilience this past year, and we certainly had fun spending time with extended family. Feeling more settled and having built a basic immunity to California germs meant we also enjoyed higher energy levels.

Word of the Year for 2016: LIVE

I picked the word LIVE for 2016. I am really hoping to move into a home with some sort of space for the kids to run outside in 2016. I have done everything I can – for now, at least – to make that happen. So I am doing my best to live in the moment as I wait. 2016 is also a very exciting year, because thanks to Mike’s job we get to take the kids to Edinburgh, Scotland this summer. My daughter Emma will finally get to see the city where she was born ten years ago! I am hoping to see most of our friends from the three years we lived there, and maybe even some of my UK blog friends.

Focus Points for Setting Goals Month by Month in 2016

I have picked three areas of focus as I set goals for 2016:

  • Gratitude: Noticing all that is good in life, and the people that make my world go round.
  • Learning: Making the most of opportunities.
  • Mindful Living

Setting Goals for January 2016

December was a busy month in our house – especially the first half of the month! The kids had both this week and last week off school, and we have all enjoyed the extra down time. We have enjoyed our Christmas tree, Christmas books, and Christmas music as well as brisk weather (for California) that makes everything feel more festive. I found shoes the kids could wear to my brother’s wedding that we already owned rather than shopping for new ones. We all had a wonderful time at my brother’s wedding, which was the most child-friendly wedding I have ever attended. Our trip down was quick – we drove to San Diego one day, went to the wedding the next, and drove home the day after – but we enjoyed the time with family and even made time for a quick trip to admire sun bathing seals along the coast. I got my other brother’s engagement photos edited, as well as photos from a newborn photo session and an 80th birthday party that I was able to fit in amid the holiday busyness. We kept Johnny’s birthday party very simple, and he enjoyed spending time with his friends. I started sewing Lily’s quilt. I finished The Secrets of Happy Families, and I recommend the book – it made its way into several conversations with friends and family this month. In January, I hope to:

  • Get the kids settled back into school. Focus on learning and gratitude.
  • Plan Emma’s birthday party. She is turning ten!!! Focus on gratitude.
  • Help make a class gift for Johnny’s teacher’s birthday. Focus on gratitude.
  • Make the most of California’s mild weather by spending time outside as often as possible. Mindful living.

Do you have a word of the year for 2016? What are you hoping to accomplish this January?


MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

16 thoughts on “Finding Purpose in a New Year by Setting Monthly Goals”

  1. I like your word for the year! I thought about choosing one, but if I’m honest I don’t do much with it beyond choose it at the beginning and then forget until December about it.

    Scotland is going to be so pretty to see, I can’t wait to see how that goes.

  2. Happy new year, MaryAnne! Thank you for your friendship, even if it we have never (yet) met face to face. My word for the year, strangely enough, is “no”. It’s a word I wish I’d said more of in 2015, and aim to use more often, so that my life will be “yes” in other areas that are more precious. I love your word “live”! I read it as the verb, but it’s also the adjective “live” (like a “live” radio show), which conjures images of being in the moment rather than looking back on something recorded/documented. Brava!

  3. I love that you always pick themes for your goals. I love the word of the year. I think I might steal that for me as well. I need to really start living again.

    It is so easy to just drift on by and not really live the life around you. I think for the first time in a long time I can really do more and be more than I’ve been.

  4. I too try and record monthly gratitude and goals. My theme for this year is simplicity and growth. Hopeing to simplify and slow down my life this year to nurture growth as an artist and a parent :)

  5. My word for the year is Courage. I didn’t set words as goals before I discovered your blog and it was through these monthly goals linky. Your goals are so thoughtful and practical. Have a great year ahead MaryAnne!

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