"How Goal Setting can be a Game Changer" by Hannah Christensen (CatholicMom.com) Copyright 2017 Hannah Christensen. Designed by the author in Canva. All rights reserved.

It's 2017 and for the first time, I have set goals for the new year, not resolutions exactly but goals. Parts of my life I want to improve and items I want to accomplish by a certain date. In the past, when the new year came around or the next Lent or the next Advent, I have felt myself droop in discouragement because it seems like another year has come and gone and nothing has changed. I am no different than I was a year ago and if I am different, I don't notice it.

I've realized that the reason I'm always stuck in the same place is because I haven't taken the time to evaluate where I am right now and where I want to be at a certain future point. Even if I am changing in small ways over time, I can't see it because I am not intentionally reflecting on my current character flaws or what my life is lacking. I am in the same habits all the time, I follow the same routine and I always seem to end up in the same place I started, an endless circle of sameness.

But not this year; this year is different.

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Over Christmas, my husband and I sat down and talked about what we wanted to work on this year. We reflected and prayed about what actions we wanted to take individually and as a family and then we came together and discussed it over the course of a few weeks. We made a list of personal goals, marriage goals and family goals. We typed them out, printed them out, signed them and hung them on our bedroom wall. You can see the article I wrote on this with my full list of goals and grab my free printable to write your goals.

It may not seem like a huge step, but it has made a huge difference for me. It has made me more aware of myself and specific areas I want to improve, which will help me become the person I want to be. For instance, getting up earlier and setting timers for myself to stay off social media will help me be more productive and less stressed. Doing a regular holy hour and praying the rosary as a family daily will help me grow spiritually and be more open to grace. Scheduling time in to do specific activities with my two young children, like story hour and celebrating saints' feast days with crafts and special food, will help me to be a more attentive mom. Making a meal plan and sticking to it weekly can help eliminate extra grocery bills and allows me to focus on other household tasks besides wondering what to make for dinner every day.

All of these are listed in my goals for the year and if I can stay true to these goals, then I will be forming new habits in small and steady baby steps that will make me a different person a year from now. I will be able to actively track my progress because I intentionally wrote out my goals and made a plan. A year from now, I will either be doing these new tasks or I won't be, and I will be able to tell instantly how much progress I have made. Having a concrete plan, scheduling it into my life and following action steps to achieve that plan gives me a sense of purpose and contentment that I have not experienced before.

As a stay-at-home mom, I am constantly distracted and pulled in many different directions. As soon as I sit down to try to accomplish a task, I have to leave it for a different task and most days I end up feeling like I got nowhere between 8 am and 8 pm. But with a list of goals by my side that I can glance at daily, I can quickly get back on track and focus on the next action step I need to take, whether that is reading the next chapter of a book so that I can accomplish my reading goal for the week or planning a date night out so that my husband and I can check off our monthly date.

At the end of the day, I want to be able to say that I definitely took some steps, no matter how small they are, to form new habits and to improve myself as a woman, a wife and a mom. Having a list of goals allows me to do that and in these first few weeks of the new year, it has already tremendously changed my game plan.

What goals do you have for 2017? Where do you want to be at the end of this year?

Copyright 2016 Hannah Christensen.